Green eCommerce: Good for the Planet and Your Customers

Green eCommerce: Good for the Planet and Your Customers

Many people now feel we’re at a tipping point when it comes to protecting the environment for future generations. They are paying more attention to environmental responsibility because of this; including as it applies to shopping and consumption patterns.

Online stores can use this opportunity to offer greener choices to shoppers and simultaneously reduce their carbon footprints — both for the benefit of the earth and their brands.

In other words, greener online stores are good for the planet and good for customers. Here are three areas in which almost any ecommerce merchant can improve.

Sustainable Product Choices

Changing your entire product lineup might be too lofty of a goal right off the bat, but why not start with a tweak here and there?

Let’s say your store sells t-shirts. There may be a way for you to source your cotton more ethically and lessen your carbon footprint at the same time by switching suppliers. Or perhaps your cosmetics store would be eco-friendlier if it featured products containing locally sourced beeswax or pigment. Often, a simple modification is enough to do the right thing by Mother Nature.

Even if you’re not ready to make a drastic change, you can still help your consumers make positive shopping choices on your website. One study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. showed “sellers’ incentives do not support reducing the footprints unless customers have such information and are willing to act on it.”

In other words, consumers will make greener choices if you lay out the option. Luckily, modern enterprise ecommerce solutions support robust product listings to provide shoppers all the relevant environmental information they need about the product at hand. Your site can also help customers make smart shipping decisions by listing the environmental benefits of various purchase options (like bundling), which could lead to more sales.

Recyclable, Efficient Packaging

Part of ecommerce is connecting the customer with their purchases in a convenient way. But all packaging is not created equal. Downsizing your default box size is good for the planet and your bottom line. You can also switch to recyclable packaging and use soy-based ink without sacrificing your presentation. Since so many consumers expect a premium unboxing experience, tying environmentally friendliness in with the look and feel of your packaging is actually a win-win.

Greener Delivery Options

Web stores can explore several eco-friendly fulfillment options to satisfy both their customers and their commitment to minimizing their environmental impact. While an online purchase generates only 35 percent of the carbon dioxide of a round-trip journey to the mall, same-day delivery negates this since it requires fuel-intensive air travel. Consider notifying your customers about the impact of various shipping options so they can choose a slightly longer delivery time if they don’t need the item urgently.

Some online stores are setting up physical pick-up kiosks for consumers—as Amazon has done with their lockers. This allows customers to pick up their purchases when they’re already in the area, thus eliminating the need for a delivery truck to go out of its way.

You can never give a customer too many options in this regard, so consider expanding your repertoire and you may be surprised at how responsive shoppers are. Consumers can only make green choices if you present them with clear information. Greener online stores are good for the planet, good for your customers, and they can be good for the image of your business too.


Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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