How eCommerce is changing society: For more sustainability in online commerce


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The most common reason for online trading is probably the independence of opening hours and the enormous time savings.

Impact d digitization studyStudy © University of Regensburg 2014

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Jennifer Dühnfort Jennifer-DuehnfortJennifer Dühnfort is an editor at MenschDanke GmbH.

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A question of time savings

The growth figures of the online trade prove the success of the dealers. The following factors, according to eCommerce experts, play an essential role in the profitability of an online shop:

  1. Usability, attractive prices, low to no shipping costs as well as free returns
  2. Up-to-date product range, simple, secure payment methods, clear, comprehensible product description and fast delivery
  3. Allocations, Service, SEO
  4. Clear concepts and concentration on specific target groups
  5. Flexibility, marketing

Accordingly, digitization has not only reached almost all areas of society, but also has a massive impact on us and our consumer behavior. Impact of digitization

Impact on stationary trading

But what impact does online trade have on fixed-line transactions, for example? Well, certainly not the best. While consumption on the Internet is steadily growing, it is gradually expanding into shopping centers located in small and medium-sized German cities.

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The return is already 20 percent and does not stop for a long time - on the contrary. Less sales in in-patient shops mean massive job cuts as well as numerous insolvencies due to excessive fixed costs. The following graph shows how digitalization affects industry and society:

Impact of digitization

The environment also suffers enormously, for example under the mass sending. Each order and each return means increasing traffic and thus increased pollutant emissions. Packaging material is produced in harsh quantities and is unfortunately not always recycled.

The high environmental impact of mass production and mass trade is alarming. The Statista.de forecasts a continuous increase in sales up to the year 2020 in the German mail order and Internet retail.

Statista sales forecastSales forecast Statista © Statista 2015

Appeal to morality

eCommerce is part of today's evolution and, like medical and digital achievements, plays a big role in the advancement of our society. But it is our way of dealing with these achievements that determines their positive or negative impact. Of course, the move to a mobile phone had been innovative and spectacular. But it is society and how they deal with these products that make them what they are today and what importance is ascribed to them.

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Many people walk down the pedestrian zone with their heads down, watching for the new record in Candy Crush rather than traffic. Doubtful and questionable behavior - no doubt. However, carrying a mobile phone at the scene of the accident and requesting fast help has saved many lives and gives older people who spend a lot of time alone in their apartments a higher sense of security in their everyday lives.

How do we deal with negative developments?

Also the online trade adapts itself to the needs of the consumer, not vice versa. Supply and demand still form the basis for a functioning economy. We are responsible for how we use such opportunities and what we make of them.

The question that arises here to counter any problems and negative effects is simply: "What control options do we have as consumers?" As a collective, we are therefore responsible if we use economic instruments such as online shopping. Here we should act with a healthy awareness and be clear about the power we as consumers actually have to make a difference through our actions or through the way we act.

Sustainability eCommerce actively support

For example, has a product we chose been made under conditions we can represent? Is it really necessary to order in as many individual delivery steps as possible, just so that our goods arrive at us promptly? Don't do it anymore Senseto opt for a uniform delivery to protect the environment and save energy? At Zalando it is said that, according to a group spokesman, sustainability and environmental protection are very important to the concert.

Whether this statement, logistics partners receive appropriate remuneration for their services, and to what extent an online retailer itself creates the awareness to operate responsibly, remains questionable. Thus, with our consumption behavior, taking into account moral aspects, we contribute a considerable part to the improvement of digitization and its effects and should also actively use this possibility pro actively.

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