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How to make eCommerce more sustainable

In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, it is essential for eCommerce businesses to prioritise sustainability in order to stay ahead. By implementing sustainable business practices, these companies not only contribute to a greener future but also reap numerous benefits. 

From improving sustainability in business to showcasing the benefits of being an environmentally friendly business, we will delve into examples of sustainable business practices and explore innovative ideas for sustainable eCommerce. 

Get ready to unlock the potential of sustainable eCommerce and make a positive impact on our planet.

How to improve sustainability in business

Understanding sustainability in eCommerce

Sustainable eCommerce involves adopting business practices that reduce environmental impact and promote social responsibility. It’s about understanding your company’s footprint and actively working to minimise it. This starts with simple steps:

  • Using greener web hosting services, 
  • Optimising packaging to reduce waste, or 
  • Offering eco-friendly products. 

But it’s also about deeper changes, like analysing supply chains for ethical labour practices and environmental standards, and investing in renewable energy sources. Understanding sustainability in eCommerce means recognising the urgency of climate change and the role businesses play in either contributing to or combating this global challenge. 

For eCommerce, it’s a unique opportunity to lead by example, demonstrating to customers and competitors alike that profitability and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand. It’s about commitment to making decisions today that ensure a better tomorrow.

Left-handesign-eco-products

i=Change brand, Left-handesign, is Australia’s 1st Plantable sustainable stationery & lifestyle brand that produce eco-friendly, sustainable products helping people adopt a greener living.

4 ways to be a more sustainable business

Start by evaluating your operations end to end

Use energy-efficient technology and consider renewable energy sources for powering your offices and servers. Reducing packaging or using materials that are recycled and recyclable can significantly lower your environmental footprint. Also, consider implementing a take-back program where customers can return used products for recycling or refurbishing.

Optimise logistics to cut down on emissions 

This could mean using electric vehicles for delivery or consolidating shipments to reduce the number of trips made. Offer customers a carbon-neutral shipping option, even if it means an additional cost; many are willing to pay a premium for more sustainable choices.

Internally, foster a culture of sustainability

Educate your team about environmentally sustainable business practices and encourage ideas that contribute to green initiatives. 

Be transparent about your sustainability goals and progress

Show a genuine commitment to the environment that goes beyond compliance or marketing.

What are the benefits of being an environmentally friendly business?

Short-term and long-term benefits

The benefits of running an environmentally friendly business are both immediate and enduring. 

In the short term: 

  • Adopting sustainable practices can lead to cost savings. For instance, reducing waste lowers disposal fees, while energy-efficient appliances decrease electricity bills. 
  • Attract new customers who prioritise eco-friendly products, potentially boosting sales 
  • Start developing a positive reputation

In the long term: 

  • Helps ensure resource availability
  • Helps mitigate the risk of supply chain disruptions due to resource shortages
  • Positions companies as leaders in corporate responsibility, which contributes to enhanced brand loyalty
  • Enhanced brand reputation and stakeholder trust

Businesses that are early adopters of sustainability are better prepared for future regulations, which may mandate more stringent environmental practices. Ultimately, these long-term strategic advantages contribute to a more stable, resilient, and profitable business.

Impact on brand image and customer perception

The decision to be an environmentally sustainable business can significantly enhance your brand’s image. Customers today are more informed and conscious about the products they purchase and the companies they support. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, your brand can stand out as a responsible and forward-thinking leader. This positive perception can attract new customers and gain brand loyalty from existing customers  who value environmental stewardship.

Your commitment to being an environmentally friendly business can also lead to increased customer trust. When customers see that a brand is making genuine efforts to reduce its environmental impact, they are more likely to believe in the quality and integrity of the products offered. 

Transparency about sustainability efforts, such as sharing progress reports and goals, reinforces this trust and can turn customers into brand advocates. The positive customer perception cultivated by sustainable practices can be a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace.

Sodashi-transparent-impact-reporting

i=Change brand, Sodashi, communicate the impact of their giving back journey on a sustainability landing page to provide 100% transparency of our partnership.

Practical examples of sustainable business practices

eCommerce businesses who excel at sustainability 

Numerous brands have adopted sustainable practices within their business.

Patagonia is a well-known outdoor apparel company that is committed to sustainability. Patagonia’s clothing products make use of recycled materials, many of which come from fishing nets that would have otherwise reentered the oceans.

i=Change brand, Adrift, introduced a new program: Adrift Re-Loved. They have given their customers the option to send their pre-loved Adrift clothing back to HQ to determine whether the products can be donated, resold or recycled. 

Tropic Skincare is a skincare and beauty brand. They recycle and repurpose anything they can’t recycle into alternative fuel to replace fossil fuels, using 100% compostable and recyclable parcels too. 

There’s many more brands implementing sustainable practices but what do these 3 have in common? They give back to charities they and their consumers care about.

To learn more about how you can bring to life your impact and sustainability journey, connect with our partnerships team.

Implementing environmentally sustainable business practices

To implement environmentally sustainable business practices, begin by auditing your current operations to identify areas for improvement. For example: 

  • Switch to digital invoicing to reduce paper use,
  • Opt for energy-efficient lighting in your warehouses. 
  • Source products and materials locally to reduce transportation emissions and support local economies.

Consider also introducing a product life-cycle assessment to understand the environmental impact of each product from creation to disposal. This can help you design products that are easier to recycle or have a smaller carbon footprint.

Educate your team about the importance of sustainability and how they can contribute through recycling programs and energy-saving habits. Partnering with environmental organisations can provide additional resources and credibility to your efforts. By taking these steps towards environmentally sustainable business practices, you create a healthier planet and a more resilient business model.

Ideas to make your ecommerce business more sustainable

Sustainable packaging and delivery

To foster sustainable ecommerce, consider revamping your packaging and delivery processes. Use packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials, and design it to be reusable. Reducing the size and amount of packaging used for each order can also lower the resources consumed and waste produced.

For delivery, explore partnerships with shipping companies that offer carbon-neutral shipping options. This can include the use of electric or hybrid vehicles and optimising delivery routes to reduce emissions. Offering customers a ‘green shipping’ option at checkout encourages them to participate in your sustainability efforts.

Additionally, implementing a local pickup option can eliminate shipping emissions altogether for nearby customers. These sustainable packaging and delivery practices not only benefit the environment but also set a precedent for industry standards, showing that eco-friendly operations are both feasible and beneficial.

Wrinkles-Schminkles-terra-cycle

i=Change brand, Wrinkles Schminkles, is proudly zero waste, with the launch of the world’s first silicone patch recycling program, in strategic partnership with Terra Cycle

Green initiatives for your online store

Green initiatives for your online store can extend beyond physical products and packaging. Start by ensuring that your website is hosted on servers powered by renewable energy. Optimise your site’s code to make it energy-efficient, reducing the energy used by servers and devices accessing your store.

Create a section on your website dedicated to sustainability, where you can communicate your environmental efforts and achievements. This transparency builds customer loyalty and aligns your brand with customers’ values. Offer a range of eco-friendly products, or give customers the option to contribute to environmental causes at checkout.

You might also implement a loyalty program that rewards eco-friendly purchasing behaviours, such as choosing slower shipping options or buying sustainable products. These initiatives help create a community of like-minded individuals who are engaged and loyal to your brand because of shared values toward sustainability.

Aiming for net zero emissions

Steps towards achieving net zero emissions

Achieving net zero emissions is a critical goal for sustainable ecommerce. The first step is to measure your company’s carbon footprint to understand where emissions are coming from. Next, implement strategies to reduce energy usage and waste, such as upgrading to energy-efficient equipment and optimising supply chains.

Investing in renewable energy sources, like solar or wind power, can significantly reduce your emissions. For the emissions you can’t eliminate, consider carbon offsetting programs that invest in environmental projects to balance out your carbon footprint.

Engage your entire organisation in the process by training staff on sustainable practices and setting clear, measurable targets. Regularly report on your progress to maintain accountability and transparency. These steps make your journey towards a carbon neutral business clear and structured, reflecting a strong commitment to a healthier planet.

The path to making eCommerce more sustainable is both a responsibility and a strategic opportunity for businesses. By embracing sustainable practices, companies can reduce their environmental impact, contribute to social responsibility, and unlock a host of customer loyalty benefits.

To learn more and embark on your sustainability journey on the giving back side, connect with us – your plug and play solution for supporting charitable causes at post-checkout! 

Together, we can build a healthier planet and resilient business models for the future.

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Shop brands giving back to the environment

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    • Clothe the vulnerable
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