4 ways to make your e-commerce business more eco-friendly
According to Forbes, e-commerce is set to expand by $1 trillion by 2025, an unprecedented growth spurt for a sector only a couple of decades old. And as with any ascendant trend, you can expect e-commerce to garner increasing scrutiny and attention – especially for its environmental practices.
“Green e-commerce” is already a buzzword among retailers, although its parameters are hazily defined. Generally, it refers to a movement among retailers toward eco-conscious practices. Beyond their benefits to the environment, these green e-commerce practices may also benefit businesses; it has become an essential component in brand perception, customer/retention and sales.
In this article, let’s review four ways to make your e-commerce business more eco-friendly. Consider these practices beneficial to your bottom line as well as advantageous to the environment.
Localized logistics with micro-warehouses
According to Greenbiz, e-commerce freight is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. And of that freight movement, last-mile freight, in particular, is worrisome; it significantly contributes to urban air pollution, “often in disadvantaged communities.”
A localized logistics network that utilizes micro warehousing can help solve the problem. Traditionally, the journey of an e-commerce product to the customer’s doorstep involves high-emission, last-mile vehicles traversing urban areas, often during rush hours. Micro-warehouses and fulfillment centers, situated in hyper-local urban areas, use zero-emission vehicles to send packages the last mile (or last block, as the case may be).
It’s an eco-friendly solution that benefits retailers too, as retailers can tap into new markets and get their products out faster.
Recycled, recyclable and/or compostable packaging
One obvious drawback of traditional e-commerce is the volume of packaging involved. The cheapest packaging options often feature single-use plastics and other unrecyclable materials.
When e-commerce was a relatively small sector of the retail market, this wasn’t such a problem. Now that it’s grown into a global trend, the accumulative environmental impact of these packing materials is starting to turn heads.
Consider using recycled, recyclable and/or compostable packing materials to help alleviate the burden of single-use plastics. If you have to raise prices slightly, you can be upfront with customers about why; according to McKinsey, up to 70% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.
Carbon offsets are a great way for businesses of any kind to hold themselves accountable. If you’re unfamiliar, carbon offsets are a popular climate change mitigation tactic that involves investing in emissions reductions to compensate for current emissions.
There are several voluntary, independently verified carbon offset sellers for businesses. And you can work your carbon offsetting mandate into your branding to signal your commitment to the environment.
Finally, a low-cost way to make your e-commerce business more eco-friendly is by offering education and messaging through your website. Let people know how they can take action against the climate crisis, how they can make wise purchasing choices, and how they can extend the lifespan of your products to alleviate the landfill burden.
Making your e-commerce business more eco-friendly should be a win-win. You can do your part to mitigate your business’s environmental impact while, at the same time, attracting new, eco-conscious customers to your store.