CAN E-COMMERCE SAVE THE WORLD?

By Vibeke Specht, Dec 25, 2018 08:44

It is the same thing every year. We collect our Christmas gift packages at the same time as every other person in the country and at the same over-loaded pick-up point. Then we all go grocery shopping in a throng, wishing Santa Claus was real and that he could also bring us a beautifully set table and a tasty Christmas dinner.

People are generally quite bad at dealing with and preparing for infrequent but recurring tasks and events. We all know that the roads will become icy in the winter months, but still, every year, we call the tire dealer on the same day as everyone else who wants their tires changed. And how often do we come home with everything else except the item that was at the top of our mental shopping list?

As consumers, we do not really want to have to buy things like ketchup, cornflakes, or toilet paper. Those kinds of items should just be there. And when it comes to making purchases that require that we make a more informed decision, we prefer having “someone” who knows the facts to help us. Because of this, the future Professor Niraj Dagar presents in Harvard Business Review will soon be ancient history. It is also an indirect confirmation of what LogTrade’s CEO, Fredrik Svedberg, has been harping on for quite a while now:

As AI-controlled bots (voice-controlled ones especially) gain ground and can handle our purchases for us, we will soon be “there.” Or, well, nothing just happens on its own, but the demand for not having to “shop” is high: Dress me! Feed me!

The scope is also much bigger. Because within all of these everyday logistical challenges hides the key to something much more than live streaming furniture and clothes.

... it is more because we simply do not have the mental RAM capacity to add one more task to the already long list of all other everyday tasks we have to deal with. Even though it IS in line with our values.

The same slowness that makes us unwilling or unable to take action when there is still plenty of time before something we know is going to happen happens, explains why it can be fruitless to ask people to make their consumption habits more sustainable. This is not because people do not want to (or try to) act. It is more because we simply do not have the mental RAM capacity to add one more task to the already long list of all the other everyday tasks we have to deal with. Even though it IS in line with our values.

So, what should we do?

To make the world a better place and create resource-efficient and sustainable consumption patterns, we have to change the way our delivery chains work. (Yes, this is old news.) We also need to make sustainability a non-issue.

It is worth emphasizing that the problems we face today have nothing to do with resources. They are all about logistics. We do not have to throw away 300,000 tons of food every year at the same time as we send donation texts to UNHCR to raise money for food or blankets.

From over-consumption to exact consumption, with circular systems as a cool add-on feature.

Food waste and starvation are two sides of the same coin, and logistics is the common denominator. We suggest that unsustainable consumption patterns are connected to computer-controlled 30-minute deliveries in a similar way.

Automated Sustainable Consumption

The digital tools to make it easy for us to find a way to lead sustainable lives are starting to become available. It is not only about the fact that digitization can now make it possible for us to become more “analog” and get us to raise our eyes from the screens.

It is also about the fact that these tools are truly able to provide people with what they need, when they need it and wherever they are. This applies regardless of whether it is the need for food, clothes, and medicine for people fleeing war or when Anna Smith wants to buy her Christmas turkey. We are moving away from over-consumption to exact consumption, with circular systems as a cool add-on feature. So have faith. There is something much more explosive and beautiful than remarkably fast deliveries to be found in the technology that is driving (e-)commerce innovation today.

And by the way, do you know that Amazon has not cracked the logistics code? Have a look at our work on implementing Ericsson’s new global standard for logistics.

 

THE SMART PALLET

 

SUSTAINABLE LOGISTICS

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