A roadmap to sustainable e-commerce business
The e-commerce industry has evolved in and out in terms of imbibing various sustainable principles in every aspect from their offerings to packaging and delivery
Kanthi Dutt November 24, 2022
co-founder & CEO, SustainKart
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The growing sustainability trend in recent times is primarily due to the earth struggling with the catastrophic effects of global climate change. As people worldwide become more conscious of the environment, the adoption rate towards a sustainable lifestyle has increased by leaps and bounds. Consumers’ consumption patterns and buying behaviour have changed, leading to a more responsible approach towards environmental & social concerns. Industry reports found that 73% of customers globally claimed to alter their purchasing patterns to ensure minimal environmental impact. In response to the emergence of the ecologically conscious attitude of consumers, e-commerce companies are adopting sustainable policies regarding the protection of the environment to ensure they stay ahead of the curve.
Sustainability in e-commerce implies conducting business with a high environmental and social responsibility, preserving the earth’s resources, and fostering favourable circumstances for its growth without impacting the business’s bottom line or driving away customers. It aims to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising those of the future one. As a result, choosing production, management, sale, and distribution methods that more carefully consider resource use is necessary for being a sustainable e-commerce brand. Additionally, it entails balancing the urgent requirements of society with sustainable consumption and resource wastage.
Here are some sustainable, environmentally friendly steps the e-commerce sector is adopting to lessen environmental impact significantly:
It is no secret that consumers are increasingly pivoting towards brands and businesses that align with their values and are prepared to spend more for such goods. Hence, the e-commerce industry is leveraging the incredible potential presented by consumers’ growing environmental concerns by collaborating with sustainable brands to expand their product offerings. As a result, e-commerce brands offer products created from natural resources, recycled materials, or strictly organic substances. Sustainable e-commerce brands also incorporate measures to make these products compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable. The e-commerce brands provide a greener alternative to existing products or solve problems, allowing people to live more responsibly. Further, sustainable products follow the circular economy concept, which encourages products to be passed on from one owner to another using resale marketplaces and peer-to-peer networks.
The sustainability of a product is determined by the brand’s choice of raw materials and production techniques, including whether or not those components are organic or sourced from sustainable sources. It also relies on whether the company’s business model revolves around fast-moving, quickly consumed items that produce a lot of trash or long-lasting products that prevent wastage after just one usage. Furthermore, environment-friendly products protect consumers from hazardous chemicals produced by conventional production techniques. As a result of unregulated manufacturing, consumers unknowingly expose themselves to harmful chemicals. E-commerce brands are also incorporating sustainable raw materials procurement by sourcing them from local suppliers to reduce emissions from their transportation.
Eco-friendly packaging is becoming a priority for e-Commerce businesses hoping to establish a reputation for being environmentally friendly. Eco-friendly packaging is recyclable, reusable, and made from biodegradable materials like bagasse paper, corn starch, etc. Businesses are incorporating sustainability in packaging by delivering their products in natural packagings, such as cloth bags, glass jars, recycled plastic containers and canvas bags, to mitigate their carbon footprint and save money on transportation. Additionally, e-commerce companies are implementing sustainability practices beyond simple exterior packaging, such as reducing packing, utilising thermal printers to conserve ink, and using biodegradable labels. As a result, the amount of garbage and pollution that enters landfills and seas may be significantly reduced by using eco-friendly packaging materials and methods.
Fast shipping is one of the most crucial aspects of e-commerce. Therefore, making it planet-positive is a priority for sustainable businesses. This carbon footprint is attributed mainly to deliveries from fulfilment centres to homes, resulting in vehicular pollution in residential areas during the last-mile delivery of the shipment. Many companies are increasingly opting to ship with no or low carbon emissions since it encourages safer procedures to curb pollution/ emissions of combustible gases, effective port administration, and equipment administration. In addition, many companies are scaling back express delivery for all product categories to queuing up for more orders or sending packages in bulk. E-commerce companies incentivise customers to select slow shipments by offering them special offers.
Reduce product returns:
Reducing the return rate is vital in reducing brands’ carbon footprint since it lowers the overall shipping costs, packaging waste, and transportation emissions, all detrimental to retailers’ bottom lines. Brands utilise in-depth product descriptions, client feedback, consumer content, and many digital merchandising tools. This targeted content is more appealing to customers since it clarifies all their concerns. It gives them a better sense of the product, reducing complaints and confusion about the order placed and what is delivered. While free returns are a perk for online buyers, businesses may improve their websites to limit returns and lessen the environmental impact.
E-commerce brands and customers continue to pay attention to sustainability because it is a crucial aspect of e-commerce future. As the green movement gathers momentum, consumers are becoming more environmentally sensitive and aware of how e-commerce helps preserve the environment. As a result, they place a high value on eco-friendly shipping and sustainable fulfilment in addition to demanding that items be designed sustainably and be ethical and hard.
In response to the ecological demands, e-commerce businesses are increasingly dedicating themselves to ethical business practices. As a result, e-commerce brands can create a more sustainable future while differentiating themselves from their competitors by implementing eco-friendly products, supply chains, shipping methods, green business practices, a circular economy model, and sustainable packaging. Brands with a long-term, sustainable business plan that integrates high revenue growth with zero emissions will always be one step ahead of the competition.