Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Optimizing Online Shopping

PostedNovember 30, 2018

Lede: If you’re shopping online and want to reduce your carbon footprint this holiday season, experts say – don’t procrastinate.

Randy Atkins: Done right, online shopping can be good for the environment…not to mention traffic. After all, theoretically, you don’t need to drive to the store. But Miguel Jaller, an engineer at the University of California Davis, says his studies show that’s only true if we have patience.

Miguel Jaller: When people chose three, four, five day deliveries, then you can arrange all your shipments to maximize the use of vehicles.

Randy Atkins: Jaller says it’s next day, or even faster, deliveries that are the problem because it’s hard to do that efficiently.

Miguel Jaller: What we have today is many households receiving multiple shipments coming from multiple vehicles.

Randy Atkins: And, worse, many people drive out anyway and window shop then still order the products they see online.

Miguel Jaller: So overall we are adding more to the system instead of reducing.

Randy Atkins: Then there are all the returns! But Jaller says all this can be addressed by things like consumer incentives and software advances to improve distribution efficiencies. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.