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Mastering the Key Elements of Sustainability in Ecommerce

Shutterstock photo license - By Jirapong Manustrong



One can’t argue with the fact that, while demanding a bit of effort, going green in general tends to be as much of a financial decision as it is as an ethical one. Using less disposable material, for example, can save a lot of money on your weekly grocery shopping and reducing water usage can cut down on the monthly bill substantially. All of this is especially true when we’re talking about a business, with much more expenditures than a private person or even a family. A recent poll showed 77% of executives found sustainability increases consumer loyalty, so more are investing in green initiatives.

The benefits of sustainable business practices are numerous. A business that decides to go green does not only reduce costs. Today, being eco-friendly is much more than a trend – for some consumers, it’s a standard they go by when deciding where to do their shopping. One study from January 2020 shows that a whopping 70% of Americans and Canadians would prefer to buy eco-friendly brands. Thus, being environmentally aware means gaining a huge clientele with a certain moral code.

Understand the Merits of a Sustainable Business Model

True, eco-friendliness does come at a cost. Using biodegradable materials, for example, is sometimes more expensive than using other, non-environmentally friendly materials. However, it seems like going green is not just a short-term fad, so if you don’t do it today to appeal to a substantial crowd, you may be forced to do it later on under regulation.

This is especially true for online businesses. To begin with, switching to a digital shopping environment is a big step toward our planet since it prevents the usage of a lot of unnecessary and disposable materials. However, this isn’t enough of an effort to go green. Moreover, there are some very simple things you can do as a business owner to become even more environmentally aware. Here are a few:

Paper cut (down)

Since transactions take place online, there’s no reason that documentation can’t shift there as well. Receipts, instruction cards and billing orders can be sent by email, where they can also be stored more effectively than paper ones. This may seem like a small change, but keep in mind that 3 million trees are cut down annually to supply paper for receipts printed in the US alone.

However, before you throw your printer out, remember that going paper-free requires consent from the other side of the deal. This means you will have to approach your clients and ask them to communicate with them via email. This can also serve as a gateway to further business, since while you’re emailing a receipt to your client, you can also ask them if they want to receive further news, offers and promotions by email – thus raising your chance of future sales to this customer.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

You may have learned the ‘three R’s’ back in elementary school, and hopefully you haven’t forgotten them yet because this is a good opportunity to practice them. Your products are still material, despite the fact that your store is in the virtual world, but they are not exposed to the client’s eye and therefore need a whole lot less maintenance. You can certainly cut back on the material you use to store them in: Reusing old boxes, for example, is not a bad idea at all (and using recycled storage materials to begin with is even better). This is one of the most important ways that you can make any workplace green and e-commerce businesses are no exception.

That’s not all, though. A lot of money is spent by business owners on all sorts of stuff that consumers get along with the product – wrapping material, ‘thank you’ notes, bags and so on. This would be a good time to think about minimizing the use of these, which are usually there for the show and do not have a very practical purpose. If you can’t cut down on these eye-catchers, you should consider using recycled materials here as well.

Handle the handling

There is one big environmental disadvantage to online stores over regular, traditional stores, and it is the delivery process of the products purchased. However, there are some simple things you can do to help mother earth even when it comes to the shipping and handling part. You could, for example, cut down on boxing or use biodegradable/recycled materials here as well.

This article is too short to list the endless amount of ways you can be green with your delivery system. There are actually experts who can help you out with the process of being environmentally aware with deliveries – just click here to learn more.

Sustainability in eCommerce Can Pay Off Big!

As you can see by now, going eco-friendly is really not as hard as it seems. The first big step is moving from a physical store to an online, virtual one – and you’ve already taken that leap. All that’s left is to tighten a few screws and make some minor adjustments, in order to show your love to mother nature even a bit more.


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