The E-commerce business is rapidly growing and “a solid” developing niche nowadays. According to Statista more than two billion people have come up to buying goods online, resulting in $4.2 trillion worldwide; while E-commerce sales in the US reached $768 billion in 2021, and are expected to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025.
To hold the line, brands should keep up with recent industry trends, trying to meet consumers’ expectations and build their loyalty. One of the noticeable trends that stays true for the past few years is sustainability in retailing which is caused by the shoppers' concerns for the future of the planet.
The eco-friendly philosophy is especially common among younger consumers who are more likely to choose brands that promote a strong sustainable position. According to Nielsen, 72% of shoppers are buying more sustainable products.
While most progressive businesses have already started looking for solutions to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the green mission, adapting to changes in the consumers' shopping habits, some are still hesitating.
If you are one of those, questioning how to reconsider a business model to reduce environmental impact, let’s check several ways to implement sustainable and ethical practices in your strategy.
How to Implement Sustainable Solutions to E-commerce
We’ve collected 5 essential steps you should consider to move your business to green.
- Analyse your product line
Before you start adjusting your business aspects, you should look over your product to understand how big the environmental impact it causes. Once you get a response to this question, you can start looking for a solution on how you can reduce this impact in the most efficient way for your business.
One of the options is to switch to more eco-friendly materials which also helps enhance customers’ experience. Alternatively, you can consider a recycling strategy. It might also be a useful tool to build the whole campaign around the zero-waste philosophy, involving consumers to take part in it.
Even if you cannot make your product fully sustainable immediately, don’t be afraid to show your efforts. By doing so you can deliver a clear image of your intentions and increase the brand’s reputation.
- Reconsider your packaging
When it comes to E-commerce, the packaging is a key aspect, affecting customers' decision whether to choose your brand or not. According to SendCloud, 78% of online shoppers opt for more recyclable packaging from online retailers.
Even though business owners try to focus on two aspects when choosing a type of packaging – attractiveness and price, it doesn’t mean that the cheaper option will cause less harm to the environment (usually it’s just the other way around). Thus, plastic bottles, containers and bags might seem to be a convenient and affordable solution, however, they require a lot of resources to produce and as a result have a noticeable negative environmental impact.
However, don’t hurry to give up, today’s market offers many sustainable alternatives for various budgets and needs. You can consider using glass bottles which might be reusable for a long time. Instead of conventional packages with a lot of insulating tape, use a renewably sourced bamboo or long-lasting shoppers which not only cause less harm but appear to be a great bonus for the purchase.
Using reusable or eco-friendly materials for your packages is a great way to build loyalty and trust around your brand. Besides, switching to recycled packaging might be a cost-effective solution that will positively impact your business.
- Educate and encourage your consumers
If most consumers are aware of the global problem, trying to change their shopping habits, some still don’t give it much attention.
Once you’ve decided to join green rank, your goal is to educate and encourage your consumers to follow the zero-waste path.
Here you can think of different approaches from relevant blog posts, insights and your business achievements to extra perks and loyalty programs.
- Decrease number of returns
Returns are a major problem not only for merchants’ budgets but also for the environment since it requires transportation and packaging, resulting in extra emissions and waste.
While it’s difficult to fully prevent returns, you can still try to reduce their number by providing your consumers with relevant information on your product.
First of all, work on the store page, adding detailed descriptions, colours and sizes for each product. Try to use real shots, demonstrating goods from different angles. Your customers will hardly enjoy the red shirt if they intend to buy a white one for going to the office, right? Don’t forget to add “how to use” information if applicable.
Another great solution to make returns less impactful is to optimise return policy, making it more eco-friendly. For example, a British clothes brand Pretty Little Thing actively implements sustainable practices to their business processes. One of such practices is a paperless strategy which aims to reduce the amount of papers included in delivery packages. They have also managed to establish a less harmful return process by launching a barcode system to prevent customers from wasting extra labels and order bills during transportation.
As you can see, more and more sustainable solutions appear nowadays. Try them out, be creative and fair. By doing so you can not only decrease a return rate but build strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers.
- Opt for green delivery and shipping
Since it might be challenging to manage delivery and shipping on your own, most E-commerce businesses turn to third-party services to cope with logistics. Even though it seems problematic to find the right partners when it comes to implementing sustainable practices, this is not exactly true.
The same way as retailers are adapting their businesses toward green philosophy, delivery and shipping services develop new carbon-neutral solutions, using electric vehicles and green packaging to meet current merchants’ needs and reduce negative environmental impact.
You can find a suitable green solution for your deliveries with an advanced pickup and delivery Shopify app – Zapiet. It provides merchants with multiple last-mile delivery integrations, including Urb-IT with the main goal of reducing carbon emissions, air pollution, and congestion with the help of up-to-date green technologies.
Sustainability and ethical practices are key aspects you should implement for your business to succeed in 2022. Being a future-oriented brand, you should follow the green mission not only for profit but to bring value to society. By exploring and trying on different eco-friendly solutions to fully adapt to consumers and environmental needs, you will be able not only to keep the bar but build a powerful and trustworthy brand.