The advent of e-commerce has revolutionized modern consumers’ shopping and purchasing habits. From clothes and jewelry to office stationery and household appliances – it’s possible to order anything online and get it delivered to your doorstep.
The convenience and speed of online stores have particularly come in handy during the pandemic. While online shopping had already invaded multiple aspects of human life, the pandemic further skyrocketed its adoption. Today, it’s possible to order almost anything, from groceries to medicines, from the comfort of your home.
The Need for Eco-Friendly E-commerce
But the increased dependence on e-commerce could be catastrophic for the environment. From transporting raw materials to shipping final products – running an e-commerce business could result in massive carbon emissions.
On top of that, there’s the issue of surplus packaging that most likely ends up in the landfill. So, if you’re running an online store, it’s become imperative to devise ways to minimize your business’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.
This isn’t essential from an ethical point of view only. As the younger generations (millennials and Gen Z) become more environmentally conscious, they’re looking for ways to improve their consumer behavior. This, in turn, has compelled them to develop an affinity for brands that care about the environment.
These consumers would be willing to pay more for ethically sourced, environmentally friendly products. Thus, adopting sustainable and eco-friendly operations will be instrumental in boosting your brand image. It’ll help you stand out from the crowd of lookalike e-commerce businesses.
Also, sustainable business practices help reduce manufacturing and operational costs. This, in turn, will amplify your revenue and ultimately, help your e-commerce store reach greater heights.
But building an eco-friendly e-commerce business is easier said than done. It involves various complex steps, such as finding the right logistic services for warehousing and shipping, as well as sourcing sustainable raw materials and packaging.
In this blog, we’ve outlined a few effective techniques to make your online store environmentally friendly. Let’s take a look.
1. Optimize Your Website
A website is the backbone of your e-commerce business. But it’s natural to wonder how it’s related to the environment and carbon emissions. Let’s dig deeper.
To begin with, your website needs a hosting service to store its assets and files. Hosting providers store all your files in massive data centers. And these data centers consume a ton of energy.
So, if you want to minimize the environmental impact of your online store, the first step is to choose a green web hosting service, such as GreenGeeks or SiteGround. Also, optimize image sizes and code files to further reduce the burden on hosting data servers.
2. Choose Eco-Friendly Warehousing & Shipping Options
Depending on whether you’re running a dropshipping business or manufacturing your own products, you’ll likely need a warehouse to store your products before they’re ready for shipping.
If you’ve built an on-premise warehouse, devise ways to reduce energy consumption and waste generation. Alternatively, you could work with third-party warehouse services that follow eco-friendly practices.
Likewise, when it comes to shipping, you’ll feel tempted to compete with Amazon’s next-day delivery policy. But this would mean you’ll have to ship orders by surface or air transport, which has a higher carbon footprint.
Instead, embrace a “slow commerce” approach by informing customers outright that you ship via ocean and rail freight because you care about the environment. Most consumers would be willing to wait a few days to receive their packages if it means lesser carbon emissions.
3. Focus on End-of-Life Products
What is a customer supposed to do when your product reaches the last stage of its lifecycle? In most cases, they’re likely to discard the remnants of the product and packaging, which will ultimately make its way to the landfill.
If you want to minimize the environmental impact of your business, you should brainstorm creative ways to recycle, reuse, or safely dispose of end-of-life products. Plantable product and packaging solutions are some of the easiest remedies.
Or you could suggest suitable ways to recycle the product. You could even provide them with contacts to recycling units and non-profits that’ll readily accept end-of-life products.
4. Don’t Ignore Your Workplace
Even if your business operations are online, you’ll still need a few employees to keep it running. And if your employees are working from an office, you must work towards making the office environment eco-friendly.
Start by switching to sensor-based LED bulbs that automatically turn off when there’s no one around. Also, encourage your employees to minimize the use of paper and plastic stationery. You can take things up a notch by utilizing renewable energy sources to power your office premises.
What steps are you taking to make your e-commerce business environmentally friendly and sustainable? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.