What exactly is sustainable e-commerce? E-commerce stands for ‘Electronic Commerce’ which is the selling and buying of products and services online. Sustainable e-commerce means limiting the ecological impact that the brand has on this earth. E-commerce is based on the transferring of money digitally. In our previous article, we have discovered the importance of CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) in e-commerce. This article explains the e-commerce customer journey that will enable you to understand how consumers behave on your website, which is essential for increasing sales, or in other words, your conversion rate. Read more about the importance of getting to know your audience in the roadmap below.
The upcoming of e-commerce has enabled a variety of businesses to sell their goods and services online. This has not only been beneficial for many businesses, but it has also proven favourable for the consumer. Consumers will find it easier to search for what they are looking for. Simply because they can fill in their wants and needs in a search bar in which they will get hundreds, if not thousands, of hits on that particular product or service that they are looking to purchase.
With the rise of e-commerce and success for many, we have also begun to notice that there are not only advantages when it comes to e-commerce. The downside is that many companies are not operating in a sustainable way. Not only is sustainability necessary for our earth, but many e-commerce brands also have customers that find sustainability essential.
Why are we in need of sustainable e-commerce?
Haven’t we all grown used to having super fast delivery standards? Ordering something on a Tuesday evening at 9 pm and still getting the package delivered the following early morning. Then, if we decide that we actually don’t like our purchased goods, we just have to click on a website, fill in a return form, go to a shop and send it back. In this process, the goods that we have bought have already been packaged twice when it reaches the delivery centrum back again.
On top of that, when we want to send something without damaging it, we have to wrap it up tightly. Plastic, styrofoam, and bubble wrap are all products that are often used in this process. These materials are all there to make sure the product doesn’t break in delivery. However, they are definitely not sustainable.
On top of that, Millennials prefer to buy goods and services from businesses that are sustainable and ethically responsible, as shown in Forbes research. The Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report shows that 66% of customers spend more on a product or service if they can buy it from a sustainable brand. Focusing on being more sustainable might be favourable for your business, especially with the predicted growth that e-commerce is facing. Namely, predictions show that retail e-commerce sales globally are forecasted to grow from USD 3.5 trillion in 2019 to USD 6.5 trillion in 2022, as shown on Statista.
A sustainable approach for neutral packaging: recycling and reusing for a zero impact
Neutral packaging is one of the steps you can take as an online shopping platform to become more sustainable. Besides, this roadmap also focuses on Customer Experience, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Delivery Solutions, and a Carbon Footprint Calculator. Together they make a roadmap that will help to make your e-commerce brand become more sustainable.
Roadmap to becoming more sustainable as an online shopping platform
This roadmap for online shopping platforms focuses on becoming a more sustainable e-commerce brand. Implement the following 5 steps and see how your business can fulfill its sustainability KPIs.
1. Customer Experience
The first step of this roadmap is focused on understanding the wants and needs of your target audience. As mentioned above, millennials are more inclined to buy goods and services online that are from sustainable businesses. By advertising, communicating, and aligning yourself to sustainability and climate-neutral packaging, you are likely to create a competitive advantage that will help you grow into a brand that the world likes to know more about.
Just imagine your product amongst your competitors’ products on an e-commerce website. Your customer will most likely be more inclined to choose your product if they read the description box that mentions that your packaging is made from ‘100% recycled material which is non-harming and degradable’ compared to your competitor who hasn’t mentioned their contribution to being more sustainable.
2. Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is the creation of products and services in a sustainable way; to help protect our natural resources from being overused. As an online shopping platform, you can think about using recyclable or renewable resources in the process of creating your products and/or packaging. On top of that, sustainable development should be a topic that is discussed amongst your partners, organisations you work with, and stakeholders.
Together you can talk about global challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and environmental degradation. Getting familiar with the effects of becoming more sustainable as an e-commerce business will help your brand to develop more sustainably. See where you and your partners are able to improve the development of your product, to become more sustainable.
Are there ways to use natural resources more practically or are there ways to package your goods in a more climate-neutral way? Are there ways to plan your deliveries better to reduce carbon emissions? Keep the conversation going.
3. Climate-Neutral Packaging
Over the years, there have been many new inventions to packaging more climate-neutrally. One of these inventions is packaging with plant-based biodegradable materials. For example, there are now ways to make a substitute for plastic made from plants, with the same user experience of real plastic. This plant-based plastic is easily composed and is therefore far more climate-neutral.
Folding boxes, foil packaging, plastic, bubble wrap, and other damaging materials are replaced for packaging made from cornstarch, coconut, mushrooms, and sugarcane. Dive into the world of climate-neutral packaging by looking into plant-based alternatives. Besides, look into the opportunity to recycle or reuse the packaging you use, to stimulate a circular packing economy. To make sure the lifecycle of its usage is extended, instead of it only serving a single-use purpose.
4. Sustainable Delivery Solutions
There are a few different ways to utilize more sustainable delivery options for your e-commerce business. One of them is to invest in planning tools that will make you look at the path your deliverer is taking more efficiently. You want to make sure that the deliverer is not driving around in circles, going from A to B to Z back to A, where he could also have delivered all the products at location A at the same time.
Another tip is to try and send things out from local stores, try to see if any of your retailers is able to work together with you. Another way to be more sustainable within your delivery is to choose more sustainable transportation such as the usage of electric cars or even delivery bots. Delivery bots are robots that are battery operated, they know where to go and they deliver your product. Yes, they do already exist!
Electric bikes are also a good solution, especially if the delivery is taking place in a country where biking is made easily. Lastly, considering giving people a discount if they choose an eco-friendly delivery method. This functions as an incentive for them to choose a more sustainable delivery option.
5.Carbon Footprint Calculator
Last but not least, after having implemented the steps from above, look into using a Carbon Footprint Calculator. There are many different calculators that you can use for different branches and different reasons. If you Google ‘Carbon Footprint Calculator’ you will find calculators for different goals such as measuring your own carbon footprint or your business’ carbon footprint.
By utilizing this calculator you will be able to make measurable goals by analyzing data from different points in time. You can incorporate these statistics and data in your company’s sustainability KPIs by calculating your emissions, setting goals, and trying to reach them. In the meantime, share the beautiful results you have been able to reach with your audience. They will feel more inclined to purchase your goods and services after knowing you are reaching your sustainability goals.
The way forward
To become a more sustainable e-commerce platform that focuses on eco-friendly e-commerce and climate-neutral packaging you can take actions to meet the wants and needs of your consumers. Which is also beneficial for this earth at the same time. Reducing your ecological impact is becoming more mainstream and has been made easier over the years. You just have to know where to get started.
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