5 ways to make eCommerce more sustainable

The demand for eco-friendly products is growing. Research has shown that the sales of products that are marketed as sustainable have been growing much faster than similar competing products.

With this shift in buying behavior, many retail businesses are looking at their products and processes to become more sustainable. At the same time, businesses are also looking for ways to offer a more convenient shopping experience.

Ecommerce and retail app development can offer solutions for convenience, but there are some issues when it comes to sustainability. With that said, retail businesses can develop processes that will make their ecommerce operation more eco-friendly.

Sustainability and Ecommerce

In many ways, ecommerce has the potential to be more sustainable than shopping at a store. With fewer people driving to shop at stores, you could have fewer vehicles on the road which would lead to less pollution.

Unfortunately, ecommerce doesn’t always work this way. Consumers usually want their products delivered quickly and this results in logistical challenges that make it difficult for ecommerce to be as efficient as possible. To meet these demands, delivery services are often forced to dispatch drivers to deliver one or just a few products with a vehicle that is only partially full.

Ecommerce also has more issues with returns. Items ordered online are more likely to be returned than those that are selected in person. This obviously increases the number of miles driven per product, but there are also issues with whether the product can be resold after being returned. In many cases, these products can’t be resold and that increases waste.

Online shopping can also have issues with the packaging. These products have to be packaged for shipping and the packaging often goes right in the trash when the product is opened. You will also find many situations where products are sent with a lot of excess packaging. This is a problem even if you are using sustainable packing materials.

Making Ecommerce Eco-Friendly

Making efforts to run a more sustainable operation isn’t just good for the environment; it can also be a good way to set your brand apart. In a survey from Nielsen, 81% of respondents said they strongly believe companies should work to improve the environment. Many of these consumers are also willing to pay more or change their shopping behaviors if they think it will help the environment.

  • Many ecommerce operations just use a few standard box sizes for shipping. This means that packages often have a lot of empty space. By switching to packaging that is a better fit for your product, you can reduce wasted packing material and save space in delivery vehicles.
  • Use sustainable packing materials. Try to use recycled or biodegradable packaging. If you can, make it possible to reuse or refill containers as well.
  • Pack multiple items together. If a customer orders more than one item, try to pack all of the items in one box.
  • Offer the option to save money by opting out of same-day delivery. This can relieve some of the issues that come with having to deliver products on a tight schedule.
  • Use eco-friendly delivery services or vehicles. Electric delivery vehicles are becoming more common. Even if it is just for the last mile of delivery, an eco-friendly delivery vehicle could reduce pollution and fuel consumption considerably.

As a final tip for making an ecommerce operation more eco-friendly, educate your customers. Some of these changes might run counter to their expectations.  However, if they know that you made these decisions in the interest of sustainability they will be more likely to accept them. 

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