Environmental and sustainability awareness is now a key trend driving e-commerce businesses.
A recent survey on e-commerce consumers reveals that nearly 8 in 10 respondents consider sustainability a crucial factor in their buying decisions. About 6 in 10 consumers surveyed are ready to pay a premium of over 35 percent for brands that practice sustainability and environmental responsibility.
As online shopping increases the need for packaging and warehouse bins, online retailers are now racing against time to meet the increasing demand for sustainability from their consumers and gain an edge over their competition.This blog discusses the consumer behaviors driving this trend and how the e-commerce industry can meet these expectations.
What Is Sustainability in E-Commerce?
Sustainability in e-commerce refers to business practices that do not deplete natural resources and support long-term, global ecological balance. In a nutshell, sustainability means balancing meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Five trends driving progress towards sustainable consumption
The following are five notable consumer trends that are actively driving progress towards sustainable consumption:
Demand for reliable sustainability information in products
Consumers are now demanding clear, substantiated, and intuitive information on the sustainability of the products they want to buy. Brands wishing to gain consumer trust and loyalty need to avoid the practice of greenwashing that misled consumers through unsubstantiated sustainability claims about their products. Companies that provide clear, responsible, and transparent information gain an added advantage over their peers.
Demand for sustainable packaging
Recent studies reveal more consumers shopping online and in local stores detest the endless supply of needless packaging. Essentially, nearly 74 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, according to a 2020 Trivium Packaging research. The study also established that roughly half of the consumers actually shy away from packaging that can harm the environment.
Infographic provided by Eagle Flexible Packaging, a flexible packaging company
Products with a longer lifespan
There is no doubt all products have a defined lifetime. However, consumers now find products designed to die after a short period of use to be less acceptable. Additionally, household products that are more vulnerable to mechanical breakdown, software glitches, and high energy consumption are now less appealing in consumer’s eyes. A recent study attests to the fact that there is a growing market of customers interested in buying sustainability-focused products. The study by NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business reveals products with a sustainability claim on-pack had a market share of 16.6 percent in 2018, compared to 14.3 percent in 2013. These products also realized $114 billion in sales, up from 29 percent in 2013.
Each year, the US ships about 165 billion packages, translating to 1 billion trees worth of cardboard. Additionally, plastic, styrofoam, and other non-recyclable shipping materials cause massive damage to the environment.
For most e-commerce consumers, the first impression of an online purchase is in the way the product is packed and shipped and whether the process meets sustainability standards. Undoubtedly, adopting more sustainable approaches in shipping helps online retailers stay ahead of the curve and set their brands apart from the other companies selling similar goods.
Steps for the E-Commerce Industry to Meet the Sustainability Expectation of Their Consumers
Here are a few steps to help make your e-commerce business more sustainable and profitable:
Update your brand ethos: Brand ethos tells your customers what your brand stands for and what you value. You can adopt a brand messaging that stipulates a strong stance on sustainability as reflected in your blog posts, social media, and mission and vision statement. Remember to undertake environmental and social practices that support your ethos.
Implement sustainable shipping: As the demand for ecommerce services rises, the volumes of items being shipped to meet the online shopping craze have a substantial environmental impact. Brands wishing to score quick wins can leverage recyclable packaging to reduce the amount of carbon footprint from the last mile stage of the shipping process. Retailers can also adapt their return policy to discourage customers from ordering several sizes of an item to see what fits best.
Reduce packaging: Packing waste is one of the ecommerce malpractices that some brands engage in. For example, a recent study by First Insight reveals 50 percent of consumers believe Amazon shipments include excess packaging. Boxes that are needlessly large waste shipping space and take more packaging material. Brands can take action towards reducing ecommerce packaging to boost their sustainability efforts and win more business from environmentally conscious shoppers.
Create recycling policies: Ecommerce companies can also reduce their carbon footprint by choosing sustainable packing and packaging materials. Using recyclable materials and making the recycling process easier for customers is one way to substantially reduce wastage.
Add products that encourage sustainability: You can also include sustainability-focused products in your inventory. This could mean offering more eco-friendly alternatives to existing products, offering products with a longer lifespan, or stocking products that can be recycled at the end of their lifetime.
How Can Businesses Achieve Sustainability Goals
Sustainable processes, including branded shipping, are growing increasingly popular in eCommerce. Look for fast, sustainable, and branded shipping solutions. Look for proven provider solutions that have stood the test of time and capture your entire operation within those solutions.
Flexcon is the leading manufacturer and provider of eco-friendly totes and containers for manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing applications. Our plastic pallets, trays, bins, totes, and more are not only designed for easy recyclability but also stay in use MUCH longer. For more information, visit our website.