The importance of e-commerce including the associated freight traffic with all its negative consequences (like congestions, noise, emissions) is constantly increasing. According to forecasts a market volume of 354 billion Euros will be achieved in terms of clothing and footwear by 2020, representing an annual revenue growth of 12%. However, online trading will only have a better footprint than buying in the local retail under optimal conditions (for example, group orders, always present at home delivery, no returns and no "same day" delivery). Next to frequent single deliveries, CO2 intensive and underutilized transport systems, returned goods are the main problem of online trading. The latter is currently estimated at up to 50% (EHI Retail Institute 2015, Kristensen K. et al. 2013).
This is where the research project "Think! First" comes in. We plan to tackle these problems in freight mobility by using an unique combination of gamification elements (granting of discounts in case of compliance), persuasive design principles (highlighting of features such as group orders & environmentally friendly transportation) and machine learning (for the automatic correction of inconsistent or incorrect size information both on customer-level and manufacturer-level). Customers are animated, targeted and nudged to choose effective and sustainable means of transport when shopping online. As a result, an adaptive online shopping system including an interface to existing shops (API) will be designed and developed. Thanks to the support of the partner company "Grüne Erde", the nationwide rollout of a pilot test can take place.
This approach will enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of the prescribed interventions. Using a multi-dimensional approach which includes qualitative and quantitative methods the impact on acceptance, usability and compliance (reduction of returns, reduction of delivery attempts and shorter transport routes) as well as on the modal shift (use of alternative means of transport) can be assessed. Thus, our project approach provides valuable insights, whether the planned interventions are appropriate to sensitize online customers for a sustainable transport of goods.