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As an e-commerce business owner, you’re probably familiar with the concerns of the delivery and packaging impact on the environment. Consumer demands are getting high regarding sustainability and this is something you don’t want to be missing in 2022.

In this article, we’ll be talking about how the e-commerce industry is moving to a greener direction. On top of that, you’ll be exploring how and why you should be optimizing your processes in a more sustainable way.

Hope you enjoy it.

The future of sustainable e-commerce

Let’s start with some inspirational actions.

EU aims to reduce carbon emissions by at least 55% by end of 2030 and considering the incredible growth of e-commerce, there’s a big responsibility of e-retailers on that mission.

Probably just like your competitors, you also have some concerns about deploying sustainable e-commerce. The question is where exactly to start.

But no worries, we got you covered here!

You’ll find out everything about how to be more eco-friendly from auditing your supply chain, choosing eco-friendly packaging and reducing your carbon footprint with green shipping methods.

Hold on tight! We’re starting…

Why sustainable e-commerce is advantageous for your business

Becoming green will definitely benefit your online business. Online shoppers are really interested in the environmental impact of all businesses have on our beloved planet more than ever before. Here are some benefits you should expect if you put more attention to sustainable e-commerce.

Boost customer satisfaction and customer loyalty

Why not be a pioneering e-commerce brand and get ahead of your competitors?

Forward-thinking brands are aware of the environment and they’re engaged in social discourse. So they bring a value to contribute on a bigger mission, which is more about their value, instead of their profits.

The latest E-commerce Delivery Compass shows that more than half of online shoppers are concerned about the rising of e-commerce regarding the environment. They want to align themselves more with brands that have strong green credentials.

For example, 52% of European consumers claim to choose to purchase from one online store over another if the environmental impact of the delivery is lower. Furthermore, Gen-Z and Millenials are highly concerned about the packaging material being used in e-commerce and most of the European online shoppers think packaging materials should be fully recyclable.

Long story short, implementing sustainable solutions will definitely satisfy your shoppers and gain more loyal customers in the long run.

Sustainable e-commerce is budget friendly and it boosts customer retention

Well, as a big part of sustainable e-commerce, recycled packaging comes with cost effective benefits but there’s so much more than that.

And that is RETURNS as the inevitable part of e-commerce.

Returns are highly related to customer satisfaction. Indeed, 84% of European online shoppers regularly return a product if they’re not satisfied.

Sustainability boosts customer loyalty and massively reduces returns. Also, acquiring new customers cost so much more than retaining an existing one. So why not take advantage?

Alright, let’s dive into more details and show you the first steps to becoming a sustainable e-commerce brand.

4 steps to become a sustainable e-commerce brand

Here are the most important steps on starting to go green in 2022.

1. Start with supply chain audit

Analyzing your products is the main step you should be considering. If you understand where and how your products are produced, you can create more sustainable strategies.

Start by asking some questions about your  procurement and supply chain:

  • How environmentally friendly are your goods regarding their component?
  • Where exactly are they being produced and how far do they have to travel?
  • Are there any environmental impacts you should be mindful of? For example, certain packaging, time-sensitive delivery, refrigeration requirements, etc. 

After completing your audit, you can determine more sustainable opportunities. For example, you can reduce the transit time by partnering with local suppliers or you can source goods that are being produced with more sustainable materials.

2. Review your packaging strategy

Did you know that 67% of European online consumers think that too many packaging materials are being used to ship their orders? Considering the growing concern about packaging materials, you might want to reconsider your packaging strategy. 

If you’re still sending oversized packages for goods, that’s definitely not the best strategy at all. People are really sensitive to those materials these days. So the big ass, garbage looking packages won’t be helping you in the long run. 

Another fact is, 78% of online shoppers (highest in Gen-Z), expect more recyclable packaging materials from online retailers. So choosing environmentally-friendly materials to be more sustainable is a must have ingredient of e-commerce. 

Okay. What’s more?

There’re other ways to become more sustainable. For example, why not go paperless with invoices? Another great idea is to use thermal printers to stop wasting links, consolidate packages, discard plastic bags, use biodegradable labels and reuse packaging altogether. 

So when it comes to your options, sky is the limit.

3. Choose green delivery

We know that managing the impact of your shipping completely yourself is almost impossible.

Good news is – with Sendcloud – you can work with multiple carriers that offer carbon-neutral or reduced carbon shipping alternatives. For example, carriers like Budbee, DHL, DPD, UPS, and many more are committed to reducing C02 emissions and they offer green delivery options.

And you don’t really have to restrict yourself to working with only one carrier. Sendcloud helps you choose the best carrier options and ship flexibly with any carrier both locally and internationally.

Our numbers show that a large share of European consumers is not willing to pay more for CO2-neutral delivery and they insist on free shipping costs. In order to satisfy them more, you can combine 100+ international carriers and benefit from their green shipping options via our pre-negotiated contracts.

It’s pretty smart, isn’t it?

4. Adapt your planet-friendly returns policy

Having an environmentally friendly return policy is a must have because returns are the biggest enemy of sustainable e-commerce. With the back and forth, you basically double the carbon emissions and that’s not really the direction you want to go.

So it’s nice to reconsider your product descriptions with clear information including size charts and pictures. On top of that, you can focus more on your FAQs page to help your customers make the right decision and reduce the returns as much as possible.

Want to know more about sustainable delivery and how to implement it? Check out our article on 6 practical tips to implement sustainable delivery for your e-commerce business.

Final words 

We really hope that our introductory guide to sustainable e-commerce will be helpful to reduce your environmental impact in 2022 and beyond. 

Believe us tackling sustainable e-commerce will bring a lot of opportunities and benefits your way. Please take your time to review your current business process and consider how to go green in the long run.

Finally, a lot of online retailers use their green policies as an integral aspect of their marketing strategy to boost customer satisfaction. So don’t forget to promote your environmental credentials on your website, social media campaigns and relevant parts of your buyer journey. 

Good luck in 2022!

If you want to learn more about consumer expectations and the future
of e-commerce with the latest statistics, check out our consumer research report.👇

Iris Dings

Iris Dings is Head of Content at Sendcloud. With her great passion for online marketing, e-commerce and logistics, she is always looking for content that can help you with your online business.

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