Not to give the cold shoulder to fears of climate change, but why should online sellers care about green ecommerce? The cost of environmentally friendly fulfillment at first glance can look like just another minus sign on the datasheet. So what’s in it for you as a business owner? What’s the return on investment?
Ecommerce is a fuel-guzzling industry. In 2020, Cyber Monday resulted in a whopping $10.8 billion in online sales, making it the largest shopping day in ecommerce history. Millions of products had to be obtained in procurement, packaged, and shipped to customers. That’s a whole lot of non-renewable resources getting used up by online retail platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. These are some high stakes, but if you’re just interested in dollars and cents, there’s plenty in it for you too.
Going Green Is Marketing Gold
The modern consumer is socially conscious. Buyers want to know that the companies they give their money to are behaving ethically. This is especially apparent leading up to Earth Day, when companies band together to make the ecommerce experience more sustainable. But some go above and beyond when it comes to going green.
Entire brands have built their names on being socially conscious in their selling. For proof, look no further than the trendy shoe slingers at Toms.
Toms’ mission of providing a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased by their customers is a huge hit. Buyers feel as if they aren’t just getting a pair of great shoes, but they’re also helping make the world a better place at the same time. Toms is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Has anyone ever made so much money by giving products away for free? This is all thanks to Toms making social consciousness a cornerstone of their branding and marketing strategy.
Environmental protection is especially pertinent to this new breed of customers. In a recent study from IBM and the National Retail Federation, it was reported that nearly 80 percent of consumers worldwide indicated that sustainability was important to them. Americans are more sensitive than ever to the effects our decisions have on the health of the planet. They want to buy green. If it comes down to you or your competitor, your commitment to environmentally friendly fulfillment could be the difference-maker.
The ROI for environmentally friendly fulfillment is going to be in your branding and marketing. Ecommerce is a crowded space. Sellers are jockeying for a good position, at times on the same websites, or even the same webpages. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you stand out? One way is to present yourself as the environmentally friendly seller in your space. Here are three achievable ways you can embrace green ecommerce.
Display a Sustainability Pledge on your Website
Talk is cheap, but it’s a pretty good place to start. Highlighting a sustainability pledge on your ecommerce site will let shoppers know that you are at least aware of the importance of green ecommerce. This humanizes your brand and lets sellers know that you value the same things that they do.
And don’t worry about filling the pledge with complicated legalese or environmental science terms. Companies like Amazon, Patagonia, and Yankee Candle have clear, effective pledges that you can use for inspiration. Keep it simple, honest, and easily understood for any customer that comes across it. Just make sure you hit the points below.
- Pledge to give preferential consideration to brands that focus on sustainability and environmentalism.
- Highlight how the brands you carry embrace green policies in their sourcing.
- Pledge to implement environmentally friendly supply chain workflows.
- Pledge to continue to explore new ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
Switch to Recyclable Packaging
The amount of solid waste created by excessive and imperishable packaging is massive. Studies show that over 90% of packaging waste is sent to landfills. The continued boom of ecommerce means every online seller has skin in the game when it comes to reducing this number. Doing so isn’t only good for the environment, it’s also good for business. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers expect online retailers to minimize the amount of packaging materials or to use recyclable material. Additionally, 60 to 70 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products that are sustainably packaged.
You can be a part of the solution by marketing your use of recyclable packaging. Experts in the field of sustainable packaging can find an environmentally friendly way to package just about any item you might sell on your online store. Buyers will love the feeling they get when their product arrives with a note that its packaging is 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
These four companies are leading the way when it comes to sustainable packaging.
If you’re ready to make the commitment to recyclable packaging, they’ve got you covered.
Reduce Fulfillment Errors That Lead to Returns
The environmental impact of shipping an order dramatically increases when that order is returned and a new item is shipped to the customer in its place. Automating as many aspects of the fulfillment process as possible and displaying this commitment prominently on your website has a two-fold benefit.
- Your customers will appreciate your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint.
- Your customers will expect fast and accurate fulfillment.
Ecomdash’s purchase order management software has two tools to help you out here. The first is our low inventory alerts that’ll let you know when your stock is running low, reminding you that you can create and communicate a purchase order from directly within your dashboard. The second tool is the restock forecast report within our ecommerce reporting functionality. The restock forecast report considers the average monthly sales and the average purchase order completion time for a product and suggests when (and for how much) your next purchase order should be.
This all allows your business to run lean, ensuring you only make purchase orders when necessary. Combined with automated sales order routing to reduce human error, ecomdash is a powerful ally in your new green ecommerce initiatives.
So, what have we learned? We now know that customers are willing to pick your brand over another based on your commitment to sustainability. We’ve learned three ways businesses can implement green ecommerce. Sustainability is more than just a marketing gimmick, it’s an initiative that consumers are demanding. Online shoppers are more purpose-driven than ever before and to stay relevant and competitive, you must be too. If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in becoming the eco-friendly, environmentally-aware ecommerce business that consumers want.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published November 2016 and was updated in March 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.