Economic and Environmental Implications of Online Retailing in the United States
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ISSN der Zeitschrift
Sustainability in the Information Society
Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies
The advent of the Internet and e-commerce has brought a new way of marketing and selling many products, including books. The system-wide impacts of this shift in retail methods on cost and the environment are still unclear. While reductions in inventories and returns provide significant environmental savings, some of the major concerns of the new e-commerce business models are the energy and packaging materials used by the logistics networks for product fulfillment and delivery. In this paper, we analyze the different logistics networks and assess the environmental and cost impacts of different delivery systems. With a return (remainder) rate of 35% for best-selling books, ecommerce logistics are less costly and create lower environmental impacts, especially if private auto travel for shopping is included. Without book returns, costs and environmental effects are comparable for the two delivery methods.