The rise of sustainable e-commerce | byrd (2023)

Sustainability is not a negligible factor for online shops. The growing trend towards environmental sustainability is humanity's reflex to combat the destructive nature of capitalism's “grow or die” imperative. In e-commerce, the concept of sustainability can range from business models to packaging products, and its role will become increasingly important in the coming years.

Environmental and sustainability awareness has long been a trend in e-commerce. In order to successfully meet the increasing sustainability demands of their consumers, online retailers have been dealing with topics such as corporate social responsibility and environmentally friendly approaches in the supply chain for some time.

In this article we cover:

  • Sustainability in online shopping: What consumers pay attention to when shopping online
  • Reasons to go green with your brand and online store
  • Inspire the millennials and successfully reach your target group
  • How to communicate sustainable e-commerce
  • Sustainable management for your online shop summarized

The rise of sustainable e-commerce | byrd (1)

The environmental impact of growing e-commerce

According to the Annual trend report on sustainability, produced by the think tank agency sustainability, points out that e-commerce has experienced rapid growth in recent years, which has had an unprecedented impact on the environment.

To put this in perspective, more than 2 billion tons of waste ends up in landfills worldwide every year. All those boxes, plastic bags, and Styrofoam peanuts have to go somewhere... and most of the time, "somewhere" is the one Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

However, there is still hope. For example, the sheer volume of waste produced by the supply chain network and its dire environmental impact have already made it necessary for e-commerce companies to reconsider their practices and find sustainable solutions within the industry - especially through the introduction of environmentally friendly solutions. friendly packaging.

The trend of recent years shows that many retailers have already redesigned their products to be ecological and have entered the green business with furniture and home accessories made of wooden pallets, paper, cardboard or cork. A lot in terms of environmental friendlinessonline shops have already established themselves with a sustainable business concept.

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to support retailers in the transition to sustainable packaging for their products, Packhilfe has started an initiative that enables companies to source sustainable and ecological packaging materials. Online shops that order from Packhelp can also plant trees. The support for reforestation is shown, among other things, by the eco-plaque that is attached to the boxes.

TOMS, for example, has become an internationally recognized brand whose packaging is mainly made from recycled waste material (80%) and printed with soy ink. Portions of the TOMS footwear collection are made from natural hemp, organic cotton and/or recycled polyester.

Also like shopsMemolife, More green,And 4betterdays are actively committed to sustainability and mainly sell ecological and fair trade products.

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Eco-friendly shipping options

A commendable development is emerging in sustainable shipping options. If they had the choice 86% of Germans prefer to choose eco-friendly shipping. However, for two-thirds of respondents, the shipping price is an important factor. For cost reasons, consumers see the additional costs for environmentally friendly shipping as unfavorable and are more likely to opt for the standard option "free shipping". On the other hand, more than one in five Germans is willing to pay more if it helps protect the environment. In the opinion of those surveyed, the surcharge should not be more than 5%. Climate-neutral shipping solutions are offered by DHL GoGreen, DPD Total Null, or GLS ThinkGreen, with whom we also work.

Even if it is important for some product categories to offer express delivery, as an online retailer you should know that it is not ecological. This shows your customers that you are paying attention to this topic and also strengthens your brand.

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Green e-commerce – avoid packaging waste

In addition to using sustainable and recyclable materials for thePackaging and opting for carbon-neutral shipping options, e-commerce companies can also optimize their waste management – ​​by completely eliminating packaging waste. Against this background, it is important to note that almost all online shoppers from Germany already pay close attention to packaging and are waste-conscious. Therefore, using renewable materials and reducing packaging waste to a minimum is the new standard and brands need to address this if they want to appeal to their consumers.

Many of us grew up with the terms “reduce, reuse, recycle” in our vocabulary. Today it is important that your company reflects the same values. Not only to help the environment, but also to increase brand loyalty among eco-conscious customers. This can be achieved, for example, by using recycled material.

Implementing sustainable packaging requires some research. You need to figure out what packaging design can best represent your brand. An example would be Shane, a Vienna-based jewelry studio specializing in simple yet elegant design. About Shipping, Shaneuses an eco shipping carton made from 80% recycled material. This transfers the unique design to the packaging and in return the customer has an unforgettable experienceunpacking Experience through environmentally friendly packaging. A sustainable packaging design that emphasizes reusability can positively influence your customers' brand loyalty.

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Another example ofstationary retailerswould be to design your packaging for a different purpose.

H&M has one for example shopping bag that turns into a coat hanger. Not only are these bags made from less material than H&M's traditional plastic bag, but 80% of the paper used is recycled. H&M recognizes that its customers are people between the ages of 18 and 35 who care about the environment and appreciate reusable packaging solutions. Therefore, a sustainable packaging design that focuses on reusability increases the brand loyalty of its target audience. To learn more about the science behind sustainable packaging and examples of best practices, read Packhelp'sArticle on the subject.

Eco-friendly trade - manage deliveries and returns

If your customer isn't home much or doesn't have a neighbor to take deliveries, orders are often shipped right back to the store. To avoid repeated delivery attempts, you could, for example, redirect your deliveries to a packing station.

In addition, you should also sensitize your consumers to deal with individual returns and act responsibly. In order to avoid returns, the information in your online shop should be as clear as possible: fashion colors should be translated into clearly understandable language, size information should be more detailed. Taupe turnslight grey, naked inBeigeorSkin color, the words " is bigger " or " is pretty tight" really amazing for clothes. Technology becomes more accessible for the customer through the explanation of functions and occurring errors.

The use of clear and understandable terminology also has useful side effects for your SEO - search engine algorithms can work with more information, so the result lists of customer queries become more diverse and the "grey jacket" also appears in the search for "blouson in taupe".

Reasons to go green with your brand and online store

E-commerce companies still often get a bad rap when it comes to green business practices. In reality, however, in many casesE-commerce offers economic and ecological advantages.

An additional focus on green practices and their active communication is crucial. Consumers are happy about sustainable, fair and durable products and are willing to do sopay more for her. In fact, a learn of the ECC Cologne points out that the sustainability measures of online shops are particularly important to the consumers surveyed. Survey participants report, among other things, that sustainability-oriented web shops are very important to them, as these shops often offer products that are durable, harmless to health and economical.

Ultimately, sustainability measures have a positive effect on the environment and by actively advertising as an online retailer, you increase customer loyalty and ideally even win new customers.

Inspire the millennials and successfully reach your target group

As you may have heard, millennials are an attractive target group as their purchasing power continues to increase. You spend almost 600 billion dollars per year, a number expected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020. If you want to attract this large group of young people as your customers, environmental friendliness has recently played an important roleOpinion poll found that 70% of millennials say a company's environmental focus influences their purchasing decisions.

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With that in mind, we advise you to also consider building your social media marketing efforts around environmental sustainability and your company's approach to environmental friendliness.

According to a study by statesman, Millennials are the most confident generation in terms of their social impact and future spending. However, the fact that eco-friendly products can be more expensive does not diminish Millennials' purchase intent as they view it as a long-term investment.

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How to communicate sustainable e-commerce

Do good things and talk about it. Acting according to this motto is not reprehensible. On the contrary, it sends out a clear signal to the outside world. Around nine out of ten (91.2%) consumers appreciate the online retailer's honest communication with regard to sustainable offers. However, they also require the provider to be trustworthy and not to make any misleading advertising promises (90.9%). Accordingly, providers should only communicate the sustainable aspects of their online shop to the outside world, which they constantly monitor and control.

Up to now, the topic of environmentally friendly shipping and its relevance has been communicated rather cautiously by retailers. Many shops that rely on climate-neutral shipping options such as DHL GoGreen do not provide any background information beyond the respective logo.

From the point of view of the provider, it is also permissible to appeal more strongly to the customer's conscience and to inform him about the respective shipping options and climate projects - for example in the context of shipping FAQs or in an informative newsletter on the subject of green shipping.

GoGreenis a DHL initiative for the CO2-neutral transport of shipments. The CO2 emissions caused by the transport are acc ISO-14064 and then compensated by DHL's own climate projects in accordance with the goals and specifications of the Kyoto-Protokoll.

GLS also has the environmental initiative think green, which promotes environmentally friendly parcel shipping with targeted measures. The aim is to use resources as efficiently as possible and to optimize processes, reduce exhaust gases and optimize waste disposal.

The principle of these climate protection programs is similar for all service providers and usually consists of a mixture of CO²-reducing and CO²-compensating measures. The former include, for example, reducing electricity consumption in parcel centers or the partial use of electric and hybrid vehicles. CO² compensation measures offset the greenhouse gases caused by shipping with the help of purchased CO² certificates, which finance various climate protection projects (e.g. afforestation projects) around the world.

However, the question of how companies can make their sustainability visible cannot only be answered with communication and reporting. Certificates and seals of quality are awarded to companies that voluntarily comply with certain binding regulations and can thus improve their reputation both internally and externally. In addition, the regulations help to make complex value chains in globalized markets more transparent and therefore more responsible.

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There are essentially two types of such certificates and seals: management systems and product labels. Management systems regulate the processes of value creation and are committed to a continuous improvement process (KVP). Companies and their locations receive certifications for this, e.g. the European IT IS NOT Environmental Management System.

Products or labels signal the characteristics of a specific product or offer and serve as a signal to customers for quality control. These include, for example, the Fairtrade seal, Die EU-Bio-Logo, or the Blue Angel.

With an eye on the environment, almost one in eight consumers is in favor of saving on unnecessary packaging material and at the same time calls for the reuse of packaging boxes.

If consumers attach greater importance to sustainable online shops and products, this is cheap and practically fail-safe to make your own webshop a little greener too. Because such measures not only protect the environment, but can also contribute to additional income and higher profits.

How often do you hear that e-commerce cannot be sustainable?

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Sustainable management for your online shop summarized

In summary, eco-sustainability and e-commerce go hand in hand, and implementing sustainable measures in your online business represents a great opportunity for business growth.

The world is changing and we – consumers and retailers – need to change with it. Those who are brave and responsible enough to take the step and enter the era of sustainable management will certainly benefit.

The green trend is growing and customers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and the role of e-commerce in saving the environment. They not only attach great importance to environmentally friendly shipping andsustainable fulfillmentbut also insist on a sustainable design of fair and durable products.

Becoming a green ecommerce business doesn't necessarily mean a huge financial burden, especially in the long run. It is even ideal for your marketing activities and helps you gain a positive brand image in the market as a responsible retailer.

Now you have the chance to use and implement this knowledgea sustainable strategy for your online shop. This can be done by adapting your product range to the growing needs of your customers or adding new product categories that are environmentally responsible. This is particularly worthwhile for shop owners in the fashion, home or beauty sectors, as consumers are very willing to buy ecological and sustainable products.

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1. Key Insights on Sustainable E-commerce in China | Alibaba Group's CMO Chris Tung
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2. How Jeff Bezos Became the King of E-Commerce
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3. In China, The Future of Shopping Is Already Happening
(Bloomberg Quicktake: Originals)
4. Let's Talk E-commerce (Part I) : Sustainable Growth of Oman eCommerce Industry
(Times of Oman)
5. How ASOS became one of the world’s largest retailers | CNBC Explains
(CNBC International)
6. Lecture on Ecommerce Supply Chain Sustainability By Josh Pitman For The University Of Kent
(Priory Direct)
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