How many deliveries are too many?

More than half of consumers have become more aware of the growing mountain of boxes at their doors since the start of the pandemic. Few feel inclined to change it.

Grocers may have lagged behind in adopting ecommerce, but here’s one point of pride: they’ve long since ushered consumers from paper to plastic to BYO—while ecommerce brands and carriers continue to grapple with the impacts of boxes piling up in front of consumers’ homes. With holiday sales expected to set record numbers, the state of porches, doorways, and lobbies across the country may soon raise a similar question: how many deliveries are too many?

58 percent of consumers say they’re now more aware (than before the pandemic) about the impact of increasing package deliveries. Yet only 26 percent think it’s wasteful or environmentally unfriendly.

Surprisingly, the level of environmental concern is generally the same no matter the kind of community consumers live in--urban (28 percent), suburban (26 percent), or rural (23 percent). Only 18 percent actually feel bad about the packaging waste, and while 15 percent say they try to re-use the boxes, only 7 percent say that delivered boxes are hard to recycle. 

A mere eight percent can’t keep track of all their deliveries. And yet, more than half (54 percent) indicate they are frustrated about receiving a lot of packages.

So what’s the problem?

Since most consumers reported feeling some kind of frustration about boxes piling up—but can’t quite put their finger on why—we decided to probe a little further. We found that an astonishing 9 out of 10 consumers say they have received split shipments (i.e., online orders delivered in multiple boxes on the same or different days). Thirty percent are frustrated by the practice. Twenty-five percent are cool with it unless the second box arrives later than the first. In a revelation that will have other retailers rolling their collective eyes, split shipment aficionado Amazon earns the targeted rage of only six percent of consumers on this topic.

More than half of consumers wish retailers would offer an option during checkout to consolidate shipments. A majority (58 percent) would choose to consolidate if they received a store credit or a discount. Thirty-three percent would wait longer for delivery if their purchases came in fewer boxes. Some (18 percent) would even pay a fee if it meant getting fewer boxes. Gen Z (33 percent) and Millennials (40 percent) are more likely to pay than Gen X (31percent) and Boomers (18 percent). Those concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic are nearly two times as likely (31 percent) to pay a fee than more nonplussed consumers (17 percent).


Oh, the guilt. Not.

People are torn between sustainability and the need for speed. They’re split on whether it’s more environmentally friendly to buy online (36 percent) or in stores (38 percent). Remarkably, 28 percent would pay extra (let’s say that again—pay extra) to get products shipped in reusable containers.

But what we’ll call cardboard guilt hasn’t set in yet. We found that 14 percent of consumers are holding back on online purchases because of the environmental impact. Thirty-six percent would feel less guilty about ordering more items if the order was consolidated into the least number of boxes.

Ultimately, consumers are still undecided about the environmental resource tradeoffs of buying online when compared with buying in-store. When asked which they thought was the more environmentally friendly option, an equal number picked each one (38-36%, respectively, but the difference is within our margin of error). 

Ecommerce’s paper-or-plastic dilemma continues. 

BOXpollTM by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture,and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2094 US consumers surveyed November 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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