At Gelato, Local Production Meets Global Demand to Cut Waste and Emissions

close up of street sign e commerce with green traffic lights

Green Light for Eco-Friendly Commerce: Navigating the Sustainable Path with Gelato's On-Demand Production (Photo by Mark König on Unsplash)

by | May 7, 2024

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Founded in 2007 by CEO Henrik Müller-Hansen, Gelato has evolved into a significant force in digital commerce. With a business model that champions local, on-demand production, Gelato operates across 32 countries, effectively minimizing the logistical footprint of manufacturing and distribution. The Oslo-headquartered company, with its vast network of offices globally, including Atlanta, Berlin, and Singapore, represents a new era of efficient and responsible production.

Core Features of the Gelato Platform

At the heart of Gelato’s innovation is GelatoConnect, a platform designed to integrate the world’s print producers into a cohesive network. This system allows for efficient management and shipment of products and significantly reduces production times and overhead costs. By leveraging advanced software solutions, GelatoConnect empowers global producers to manage their operations centrally while executing production locally.

Environmental Benefits of On-Demand Production

The on-demand production model is a cornerstone of Gelato’s strategy to combat the environmental issues plaguing traditional manufacturing practices, notably overproduction and excessive carbon emissions. By manufacturing products only when they are sold and ensuring that 99% are produced and delivered within the same region—and 87% within the same country as the end customer—Gelato significantly reduces unnecessary production and transportation distances, costs, and emissions.

Advantages for Creators and E-commerce Sellers

For creators and e-commerce sellers, Gelato levels the playing field, allowing them to enjoy the production costs and delivery speeds previously only accessible to large players. The platform eliminates the need for substantial upfront investments, thus democratizing access to scalable business opportunities without the traditional barriers. 

“Our sustainability practices significantly resonate with our customers, who appreciate reducing environmental impact and supporting local production,” says CEO Henrik Müller-Hansen, adding, “This often not only aligns with their preference for operating more responsibly as they value sustainability too but has also granted them a competitive advantage, with consumers willing to pay a premium of 15 to 30 percent for products made using sustainable practices and materials. Additionally, because Gelato items are produced closer to the end-consumer, customers never have to worry about their items getting stuck in customs and they receive their orders faster. Those are bonuses!”

Strategic Expansion and Technological Innovation

The company’s proactive adoption of technology and expansion of production capabilities ensure that creators and businesses can promptly meet consumers’ evolving demands.

Müller-Hansen says short-term, the company will continue to expand its product offerings to grow the line-up available for on-demand production, while also growing the network of local production partners around the world. “We are also increasing the share of non-fossil fuel in last-mile transportation and improving our products and packaging from a sustainability perspective. Additionally, we will continue to support both creators and makers in creating opportunities and growing their businesses. In the mid-term, we are very excited about how 3D printing can redefine what products can be made locally, on-demand,” says Müller-Hansen.

Sustainability Metrics and Achievements

Gelato’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its meticulous materials sourcing and partnerships with environmentally conscious suppliers. All wood and paper products are sourced from forests managed sustainably, aligning with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications. Gelato’s production partners comply with the Supplier Code of Conduct, reinforcing the company’s dedication to ethical and responsible business practices, apparent in its recently released 2023 Sustainability Report.

Future Outlook and Strategic Goals

Gelato’s model represents a significant shift towards a more sustainable and efficient form of production and distribution in the digital age. By focusing on local, on-demand production, Gelato is facilitating business growth and pioneering a movement towards a more environmentally responsible world. As businesses and consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability, Gelato’s model offers a blueprint for future operations in the global market, emphasizing that efficiency and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand.

Henrik Müller-Hansen stated, “Long-term, we believe that Gelato’s platform can redefine manufacturing, breaking through previous barriers for individual sellers and small companies to access a global consumer base; faster, and at a lower cost while moving the world towards local on-demand production. Our most significant competition is the old way of manufacturing. It’s time to rethink production, make it accessible for everyone, and move it closer to the end consumer, benefiting both people and the planet.”


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