Can Virtual Stores Make Shopping More Sustainable?

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Can Virtual Stores Make Shopping More Sustainable? Can Virtual Stores Make Shopping More Sustainable?
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Can Virtual Stores Make Shopping More Sustainable?

by Adele Peters

January 20, 2013

If virtual stores become more common, what type of impact would they have on the world? It's an interesting question. Online shopping has some advantages from a sustainability perspective: if a company doesn't have the physical infrastructure of a store to build, heat, cool, and light, and uses a much more efficient warehouse inside, it's saving energy. And delivery vehicles are more efficient than individual shoppers driving to stores—if, that is, shoppers are driving and not just walking to a store in their neighborhood. Online retailers like Amazon have also been able to eliminate packaging that was only needed on store shelves. 

Augmented reality stores would likely just increase the number of people shopping online. In theory, that might lead to fewer brick-and-mortar stores, though it's arguable that people will always like certain aspects of shopping in real life. It's also hard to imagine how a neighborhood filled with virtual stores would support a local economy or community.

Images courtesy of Tesco and Yihaodian

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