Is Internet Shopping Eco? The IMRG and their OLGAs

The IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) recently held their OnLine Green Awards — the OLGAs, which were voted on by more than 9,000 shoppers and a panels of judges. You can see the finalists by downloading the PDF, but of more intrigue for us was not so much who won the gong, but the assertions made by the IMRG about the Green Effects of Internet Shopping. They sprout some impressive figures. Such as: "Efficient package delivery by van can replace inefficient personal driving to the shops; in the case of grocery shopping, this could reduce vehicle miles by a 70% or more." Or less inventory because there is a "tendency towards 'pre-selling' online - i.e. taking orders for products before they are built, [...] Research on the US book trade showed that a third of best sellers are unsold due to overproduction.' And Dematerialisation, whereby many "retail products, such as music, entertainment, software, film, newspapers, dictionaries - and even money itself [...] are becoming digital and therefore downloadable. When this happens, the green effect of internet shopping on manufacture, packaging and physical product movement can be 100%!" See our related story on Green Music. IMRG realise that a true green comparison of CO2 emissions between internet shopping and other retail distribution models is required to back up these sorts of notions, and as such is a partner in the Green Logistics research consortium — six leading universities conducting retail distribution research over four years. See some of the findings so far appear after the fold. ::OLGAs• An OECD study indicated that use of internet retailing could eliminate the need for 12.5% of retail-building space, saving the energy and materials needed to build, operate and maintain buildings.

• Research indicates that internet shopping may use 40% to 90% less fuel than when customers drive their cars to the shops.

• An Ernst and Young study estimated that internet applications could reduce inventories by 25% to 35%, while IBM suggested that the savings could be as high as 50%.

• Researchers have reported customer mileage savings of 75%-95% where food-shopping trips are replaced by deliveries to their home.

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