Sustainability in online shopping; what do shoppers look for and how can you adapt?

01 February, 2022

E-Commerce Sustainability

The boom in e-commerce was accelerated by the pandemic, but it isn't just a fad, and neither is the movement towards sustainable brands. Find out what shoppers are expecting from you.

The evolution of e-commerce has accelerated the transformation of traditional retail shopping to online shopping, ever more so during the pandemic. E-commerce grew 11% between 2018 and 2019, and 31% between 2019 and 2020.

Though many see it as cleaner more effective way of doing business with speed of access and around-the-clock availability, many companies and businesses are focusing more on ensuring lower cost, wider choice and saving time without regard of the adverse environmental implications.

The main aspects of e-commerce that contribute to the environmental implications of global warming are energy, resources, and pollution. In terms of energy production and consumption the global supply chain comes at a huge environmental cost including global greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation activities by land and sea.

In a World where product fulfilment and delivery are a consumer preference it’s no surprise that The World Economic Forum estimates a 36% uptick in the number of delivery vehicles on our roads in the next decade.

E-commerce businesses rely on complex logistics and delivery networks, with freight, delivery and packaging forming the primary elements of a company’s carbon footprint. By Offsetting your Carbon Footprint - with projects to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, you can balance out your emissions to become what is known as Carbon Neutral.

As one of the largest global logistics providers of international deliveries from one country or continent to another, Asendia know that protecting our planet comes first by neutralising its environmental footprint. In January 2022 the sustainable delivery solutions company announced that they are 100% carbon neutral by off-setting carbon emissions produced by their international transport.

Not only does Asendia off-set all international transport emissions, but also includes those by delivery partners, parcel returns, building emissions, machinery, and necessary business travel leading the way in the industry.

Sustainability commitment like this can make a big difference to businesses and their impact on the environment. With climate change always high on the agenda, reducing carbon emissions with greener shipping, ditching plastic packaging for more ecological materials, and cutting down on returns many of which end in landfill are just a few other ways to make your business that much greener.

 

Sustainability in online shopping

Customers are more aware now than ever when it comes to making their shopping habits more sustainable, especially millennials who are the most sustainability-conscious generation to date, many know their ethical and sustainable priorities and will look for companies to buy from with eco-credentials, easily switching products or services when a company violates their values.

In a recent report from Nielsen Global Solutions, 81% of consumers said it is “extremely” or “very” important that companies “implement programs to improve the environment” and 30% of consumers said they are “willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on social responsibility claims.”
How to adapt and invest in sustainability efforts?

There is therefore without doubt a growing market of opportunities for companies willing and ready to respond with sustainable innovation to become more environmentally responsible with their sourcing, production, and distribution.

Retail giants making bold environmental statements include Amazon, whose Shipment Zero initiative aims to make 50% of its shipments net zero carbon by 2030 and eBay recently launched two “green” campuses as part of a wider effort to source 100% renewable electricity at its data centres and offices by 2025.

Other brands such as luxury retailer Farfetch are reducing their emissions through more efficient packaging, renewable energy in their offices to shipping more pieces in bulk via their fulfilment network.

They have also invested in certified and verified environmental projects including replanting and protecting forests to balance out the carbon impact of every single delivery and return.
Asendia’s 2021 and 2022 offset emissions are supporting wind turbine projects in China which help stimulate economic and social development in communities, conserve natural resources including land and forests and promote renewable energies.

The impression that sustainability requires huge investment and drastic changes simply isn’t true: reducing your business’ carbon footprint and creating a greener supply chain are realistic goals which can be easily achieved through small changes, which in return are a win-win for future productivity, profits, and the planet.

CO2 neutral shipping options
Understanding your carbon footprint and identify your biggest emission drivers is crucial to make your operations more sustainable and help reduce your emissions over time.

Companies including DHL and UPS have put climate action high on their agenda with a service that includes paperless invoicing, carbon neutral shipping via carbon offsetting and greener shipping options including bikes and electric vehicles.

Carbon offsetting projects can include first-mile collection and last-mile delivery, something that Asendia does by establishing convenient pick-up points near customers or partners so that orders can be dropped off in one stop instead of driving to each customer individually.

Greener delivery/collection options
Transportation is responsible for a large percentage of carbon dioxide emissions. It is obvious that reducing the number of vehicle trips is one way of reducing the level carbon emissions.

When it comes to deliveries group together orders and for returns, look at giving your customers more choice with PUDO (Pick Up/Drop Off) or redirecting parcels. The more of these drop-off points you make available the more you avoid customers making unnecessary travel journeys; driving down the vehicle emissions associated with the first mile.

No more free returns
Also clamping down on free returns might make customers think twice before ordering additional items and returning unwanted packages. For those that cannot be prevented a sustainable return policy and process should be put in place to recycle more and banning items from being destroyed diverting landfill waste at the end of their product’s life.

Reduce, reuse and recycle products & packaging
There’s so much unnecessary packing material used for online deliveries and huge boxes used for tiny items.

Packaging makes up 30% of the e-commerce carbon footprint, so it is vital to try and reduce unnecessary wastage by consolidating orders where possible, using standard size boxes and recycled packaging solutions made of lighter weight and environmentally friendly materials.
A sustainable packaging design with reusability can positively influence the brand loyalty of your customers.

Reach tomorrow’s shoppers
Become more environmentally friendly by eliminating paper waste through mobile messaging: send out coupons, new product information, shipping updates, and more using mobile channels.
For more information on our sustainability plans, visit our new microsite: www.sustainability.asendia.com.

Sustainability & e-commerce infographic What does sustainable e-commerce look like in 2022 (3)

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