Steps To Take To Become An Eco-Friendly E-commerce Business

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    The need for sustainable e-commerce has never been more important than it is right now. As the demand for convenient and fast online services skyrockets, the focus on eco-friendly business practices has never been sharper. 

    Whether you choose to focus on sustainable packaging boxes and shipment options or hope to reinvent your brand image in a more eco-friendly light, there are many effective changes you can make when pursuing sustainable e-commerce ventures.

    What is Sustainable E-Commerce?

    Sustainable or eco-friendly e-commerce is a term used to describe digital brands that build and operate their businesses in a way that is kinder and more considerate of the environment. To make this possible, companies need to balance the three pillars of sustainability: environment, economics, and society. 

    Environmental protection involves reducing your overall carbon footprint; social equity refers to ensuring your entire supply chain and overall impact on your community is ethical, with those involved being well-compensated. And finally, economic viability focuses on your ability to turn a better profit by drawing in consumers who align with your brand’s values. 

    Offer Eco-Friendly Products

    Your existing products and services largely determine your ability to include sustainable products in your company’s lineup. But where possible, offering eco-friendly alternatives or entirely new products will significantly contribute to building a more sustainable e-commerce company. 

    Alternatively, you can partner with manufacturers or suppliers that implement sustainable and ethical business practices, which can assist you in slowly introducing eco-friendly products over time. While this is not a process that can be completed overnight, making small and consistent changes can lead to permanent advantages. 

    Prioritise Recycling

    The simplest and most sustainable way to implement recycling policies is by using the circular economy method. It has been developed to encourage reusing, recycling, and refurbishing second-hand merchandise. 

    You can use your products as recycled components of other, newer products or seek out marketplaces that allow customers to purchase used items that are in good condition. Swedish powerhouse IKEA has implemented a buy-back program, which sees the company buy back used furniture in exchange for refund cards. 

    Sustainable Packaging

    Studies show that 81% of consumers believe e-commerce companies use excessive and often unnecessary packaging when shipping products. To avoid excess packaging and reduce your overall use, invest in sustainable packaging options that vary in size to better suit the size of your products. 

    Additionally, 91% of consumers want eco-friendly shopping options and are willing to pay up to 10% more for eco-friendly packaging. To accommodate these requests, use recycled components, including boxes, tape, and labels, and look to eliminate the use of plastic entirely.

    Reduce Energy Usage

    Statistics show that nearly half of the electricity used in the United States is by lighting products and appliances. While running an e-commerce business, using lights, electronic gadgets, WIFI, and plenty of electricity is standard business. By simply turning off the equipment you are not using, you can reduce your energy usage considerably. 

    By making small changes, like switching to LED light bulbs or motion-detecting lights and switching off devices at the end of the working day instead of leaving them in idle mode, you can create significant changes in the long run. Furthermore, research renewable energy options in your area, as switching to solar energy could save up to 75% in energy costs. 

    Assess Shipping Options

    Carbon emissions are unavoidable with e-commerce businesses. In the United States, over 165 billion packages are shipped per year, which equals more than one billion trees. The good news is that many international carriers offer eco-friendly shipping programs in an effort to combat this permanent impact. 

    Companies, including FedEx and UPS, are implementing long-term changes to reduce their overall carbon footprint, while DHL and DPD have complete climate-neutral shipping options available. 

    Minimize Deadstock

    Deadstock is a term that refers to the unsold merchandise that is stuck in your store and is unlikely ever to be sold. More times than not, they end up going straight to the landfill. By reducing your deadstock, you are actively contributing to reduced waste solutions. 

    To reduce this unused stock, you can implement demand forecasting by conducting detailed market research to determine more accurate stock amounts. Furthermore, any products left on the shelf can be sold through clearance sales and bundle offers held periodically on your company website. 

    Reduce Returns & Exchanges

    For any retail company, returns and exchanges are something you would rather avoid. In the U.S. alone, the average for retail returns has reached nearly 17%, which translates into almost $760 billion worth of products ending up back in supply chains and warehouses. This causes them to double their contribution to carbon emissions through additional transport, as well as waste packaging and shipping costs. 

    To reduce the rate of returns, ensure your website has updated and accurate product descriptions, detailed pictures, correct sizing information, high-quality products, and effective customer feedback channels that can be used to properly address issues.

    Maintain Your Values

    Your brand identity is how you showcase your business to the world. It is how your existing customers perceive you and how new potential customers find you. A large part of any brand identity is the values and principles you choose to carry and reflect. 

    As a sustainable business, you have promised to follow ethical and sustainable business practices, and your social media accounts and business website should reflect this. Therefore, any channel of communication between yourself and your customers should remain up-to-date to reflect these values and support the promises you have made to be more environmentally conscious.

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