Going Green: How Ecommerce Can be More Sustainable
Every little bit helps when it comes to combatting climate change. Earth Day 2022 is right around the corner, and it has everyone at ShipStation thinking of ways ecommerce businesses can be more sustainable. If you’re looking to shrink your business’s carbon footprint, we’ve put together five ways ecommerce retailers can help.
What is sustainability?
A buzzword for nearly a decade, sustainability is more than an idea; it’s a movement. Defined in the 1987 Brundtland Commission report for the United Nations:
Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainability isn’t only used in terms of environmentalism; it also encompasses social and economic resources and natural resources. Coined as possibly the greatest challenge of our generation, sustainability aims to find harmonisation between society, the economy and the environment. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on the environmental pillar of sustainability and how online retailers can lessen any negative impact they may have on the world around them.
Why should ecommerce retailers be thinking about sustainability?
It’s not just environmental activists clamouring for climate change. According to a recent survey, more than 77% of respondents reported that they are actively looking to purcIt’s not just environmental activists clamouring for climate change. According to a recent survey, more than 66% of respondents reported that they are actively consider the sustainability of a product when debating a purchase. Whilst not all target audiences are changing their buying behaviours around sustainability, many are and it’s worth taking notice.
Whilst you want to make sustainable changes to your business to make customers happier, it’s important for ecommerce retailers to back this up in practice. If you’re telling customers you’re sustainable and making changes for the environment, make sure those changes aren’t just lip service and actually make a tangible difference. If your changes are essentially ‘green washing’, customers will see through it, and it could cause irreparable harm to your company’s reputation.
Here are five ways your business can become more sustainable:
Include sustainability in your brand values
Real, tangible changes start with your company’s state of mind. Update your brand values to include sustainability and their societal, environmental and economic impacts. To further cement your brand values, create content around this new way of thinking. This can include;
- Social media posts reflecting your brand beliefs or supporting sustainability initiatives,
- Slog posts highlighting the importance of eCommerce in retail and what changes your business has embraced to become more sustainable, and
- A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy to properly outline your new brand values.
One of the biggest complaints from consumers is the wasteful way companies are packaging goods to be delivered – the biggest eCommerce retailer to come under fire for this was Amazon. Ensuring your products are shipping in recyclable or recycled material and in boxes or bags that aren’t excessively big, is an excellent way to cut down on your delivery process’s environmental impact.
More and more logistics companies are looking at ways to cut down their environmental impact. From using electric vehicles for delivery to smarter delivery routes and paperless invoicing, offering a greener delivery method for customers is just a click away.
Additionally, if you have a physical store, you can use ShipStation’s ‘Ship from Store’. Instead of delivering from a centralised warehouse, you can ship to local buyers directly from a physical location close to them, providing the smallest delivery impact possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic and a strong return culture throughout Europe means the carbon footprint of the returns industry is extensive. Cutting down on the number of returns you receive can be done in a few ways:
- Provide clear product descriptions so customers know exactly what to expect when they receive their purchases
- Make use of augmented reality to give customers the experience of trying an item on or having it in their home to discourage them from buying multiple sizes or colours and returning them
Choose Sustainable Products
If you’re an eCommerce retailer, have you thought about auditing your product selection to include sustainable products? As more consumers are looking to buy environmentally friendly goods and services, now is the time to add more of these to your repertoire. If you already offer sustainable products, it’s worth putting recognisable badges on these, so they’re easier for customers to find.
Additionally, to support sustainability and environmental efforts, you can add a selection to your cart where customers can donate to a sustainable charity of your choice. Just make sure that whatever you do to reduce your impact on climate change is well documented, and you’ve got receipts! Too often, companies have tried to jump on the bandwagon only for the public to find out they’ve been disingenuous and taking that kind of reputational hit will be hard to recover from.
A leader in the shipping and fulfilment industry, ShipStation helps businesses become more efficient and streamlined, using less manpower and resources to get their products to customers around the globe. Contact our team of experts to find out how we can help take your order fulfilment and delivery process to the next level of sustainability.