Shipfusion Blog

The Importance of Sustainability in eCommerce

Understanding when it’s time to spend money on brand recognition and marketing can be stressful. Using a fulfillment center like Shipfusion allows you direct access to our partners like EcoCart, who create green-friendly options for eCommerce businesses. Below are some tips and insights on when it’s time to take your brand to the next level. 

These days, technology is an integral part of our lives. From ordering dinner to calling friends, nearly everything can be (and is) done online—including shopping. Over the last year, online shopping has grown 39% in the United States alone. Some of this can be attributed to the pandemic, which forced many people to get tech-savvy and do errands online.

Although the virus is lessening, online shopping isn’t. Even before the pandemic, online shopping was steadily growing. That isn’t a surprise—today’s eCommerce allows you to buy nearly anything, from clothes to fresh food, and have it shipped straight to your door without having to lift a finger. 

The amount of things being bought online (and how fast they’re being brought to your door) is growing too. The US Postal Service alone delivers over 5.1 billion packages each year. These packages get to your door in a variety of ways; whether it be by large cargo planes, heavy 18-wheeler trucks, or a fleet of small vans; shipping these packages produces a lot of carbon emissions which contribute to climate change. In fact, shipping packages is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumers are aware of this negative impact-with social media, it’s easy for customers to share brands they dislike, and even convince others to boycott or protest against a brand they believe is doing wrong. Subsequently, they’ll also support brands they love, especially those doing good things for the environment. Making sustainability a priority for your brand is one of the first steps you’ll have to take to thrive in this growing, but changing, market. 

Why is sustainability important?

Sustainability is important to your brand, and the world. Even if you’re a small business, finding ways to reduce your environmental impact will have an impact on our planet and can even inspire others to do the same! Without a planet, you can’t run a business—doing your part as a brand is the morally right thing to do.

Consumers are also much more inclined to support brands that care about the environment. Nearly 60% of consumers would change their shopping habits to be more environmentally friendly and are even more willing to shop with brands that have concrete pledges to help create a sustainable community.

With Millenials and Gen Z entering the working world and increasing their spending power, the number of consumers opting to shop with sustainable brands will only continue to increase. In 2020, their combined spending power was nearly three trillion dollars, and with the climate crisis at the front of their minds, they’re much more likely to shop with from eco-friendly brands. Sometimes, they’ll even pay more for an eco-friendly brand!

Like most things, eCommerce is bound to have some sort of an environmental impact. To sell, create and ship products, there have to be greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste, but finding ways to eliminate, reduce, and offset as much of your brand’s environmental impact will make a difference, in the eyes of your customers and the planet.

Adding sustainability to your brand has results

Being an environmentally friendly brand, or at least one with sustainability initiatives can only have positive results for brands that have actually done it, they’ve only seen success! Most business executives say incorporating sustainability initiatives into their businesses helped increase customer loyalty

This could be something as small as choosing a more eco-friendly packaging, or as big as becoming a brand that only sources its products from sustainable materials. Efforts at any level are important, and as long as you can be transparent and clear with your customers about them, will only boost your brand’s image. If your brand can sell a product that people want and also happens to be environmentally friendly, customers will see that you share their views and be more likely to support your brand now and in the future.

How to incorporate sustainability into your business

Now that we know sustainability is important, how do we do it? Well, there are a variety of ways you can incorporate sustainability into your business, big and small. However, to be effective about sustainability, consider implementing changes that target your brand’s biggest contributors to your environmental impact. 

It’s also important to consider how much money and time will be needed to incorporate sustainable practices. It’s very possible (and important) to implement initiatives that will help the planet without breaking the bank. If you’re new to sustainability, don’t feel pressured to dive in right away—find small changes you can easily make to your business model and go from there.

One way you can reduce your brand’s environmental impact is by changing packaging. Packaging comes in a variety of forms—cardboard boxes, plastic mailers, bubble package fillers, plastic wrap, and a lot of these materials are hard, if not impossible, to recycle. Consider swapping out your packaging with things like sustainability sourced packaging, packaging made from post-consumer waste, or even compostable packaging.

Some businesses also opt to partner with environmental groups like 1% for the Planet or Fair Trade Certified, which allow you to contribute a small portion of your profits towards environmental projects. While they aren’t huge investments, you’ll be able to work with dozens of other companies towards one project (which you can show your customers too!).

You can also reduce your brand’s carbon footprint. As mentioned earlier, shipping products around the world has a significant impact on the planet and generates carbon emissions. This is especially true with online shopping, where it can be hard to store and ship your products in an effective way. 

By better organizing your product inventory and shipping services, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions created from transporting products down to the minimum. Working with brands like Shipfusion can help optimize your eCommerce order fulfillment system, which will help your brand get packages shipped easily, cheaper, and more eco-friendly! As your brand gets larger, finding effective and eco-friendly ways to get your products around the world can be difficult to manage. With their well-managed and detailed system of strategic warehouse locations and order tracking, plus years of industry knowledge, Shipfusion can help relieve you of figuring out the most effective order fulfillment system by yourself.

For the carbon emissions, you can’t reduce or prevent them, you can offset them! Carbon offsets are small investments in projects that work to reduce carbon emissions in a variety of ways, from protecting forests to implementing clean energy, and by offsetting the emissions your brand creates, you can help reduce your environmental impact. To easily implement carbon offsetting, consider adding EcoCart to your store. EcoCart is a free e-commerce plugin that allows brands to offset the carbon emissions created from manufacturing and shipping orders. Customers or brands can opt to pay a small percentage of each order to donate towards a carbon offset project in an equivalent amount to the number of emissions the order creates. 

Whatever you choose to add to your sustainability journey, be sure to show your customers! Otherwise, you’ll be helping the planet but your efforts will go unrecognized by your customers. It’s important to be open with your customers about the work your business is doing, and by showing them clear results and efforts within your brand to be eco-friendly, you’ll be sure to establish a loyal customer base.

The most important thing about your sustainability journey is that you start. Being environmentally friendly is quickly becoming a necessity in every business, especially if you want your brand to appeal to and capture younger audiences. Establishing realistic, but clear plans for sustainability initiatives will help your business, and our planet, thrive for years to come.

Shipfusion sets your business on autopilot and combines flexible, reliable fulfillment with powerful, real-time technology. Shipfusion has multiple fulfillment centers across the US and Canada– making it easy to manage your eCommerce business. For more information on how to set your business on autopilot, contact one of our fulfillment specialists today.