Earth Day: Does Your Sustainability Strategy Stack Up?

Power Retail By Power Retail | 21 Apr 2021

Earth Day 2021 is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and work out if your sustainability efforts are actually making an impact. Is your environmental strategy everything it should be?

E-commerce is shaped by consumer demand. This is not new. Online retailers may be industry leaders, but the reality is that they’re led by what their shoppers want and need. And shoppers want sustainable business practices because that’s exactly what we need from an environmental perspective. This isn’t about marketing or greenwashing (shoppers can see straight through that!). This is about transparency and building a healthier planet for us all.

Remaining profitable and competitive while making these changes is a challenge cited by businesses of all sizes. Yet the reality is that not making changes towards a more sustainable future means retailers are actually losing out on sales. The greater cost is not taking action. 

As ShipStation’s new eBook Happy Customers, Healthy Planet says: ‘The business case is clear…consumers of all ages spend more on brands that care—and every organisation, from global retailers and social media e-commerce stores, to shipping and fulfilment companies are finding themselves under the spotlight.’

Small Changes Add Up

As Sendle’s practical strategies make clear in the eBook: ‘You don’t have to necessarily reshape your entire business model to be sustainable – lots of small, targeted changes can compound into big change.’ 

This is why Sendle recommends slowing down on single-use waste and using carbon neutral shipping amongst many other easy-to-implement changes. We all have to start somewhere, right? Packhelp also recommends analysing your packaging needs. Smaller packages are not only better for the environment (less packaging = less waste) but are actually better for a company’s bottom line (less packaging = more savings). And this doesn’t even factor in the better consumer experience on delivery. Receiving a huge box with excessive packaging for a tiny item is a guaranteed way to disappoint your customer.

Taking small steps for big results is part of the philosophy behind Shampoo With A Purpose. ‘We believe that one small step in the right direction can help to shift your entire way of thinking about waste,’ the company tells ShipStation. A minimal waste brand since 1983, Shampoo With A Purpose is a trailblazer in the sustainability space. Its orders are sent out 100% plastic free and it uses recycled jiffy bags and boxes as well as eco-friendly paper tape. The only time it uses plastic is when it has a recycled box. There is also an in-house carbon neutralising program to counterbalance its shipping output and energy use. In fact, its shampoo bars have saved over 2,000,000 plastic bottles from being made or used. The results speak for themselves.

Eco packaging company noissue says that the easiest way to phase out unsustainable packaging is with a simple ‘use this, not that’ mentality that step-by-step removes environmentally harmful items over time. For example, an easy switch from harmful petroleum dyes to soy-based inks, ensures your packaging is on-brand as well as being sustainable.

Partnerships are Key

One of the biggest strengths of the e-commerce industry is the way powerful partnerships are formed. It’s not up to retailers to do it alone. We rally together to create change and drive the industry forward. Salvo’s Stores, for example, supports its sustainability goals with its Giving Made Easy partnership with The Iconic (which has diverted over 11,000kg from landfill so far) as well as partnering with Ecosa to take mattresses that don’t pass their customers 120-day sleep trial (collecting 1,600 mattresses to date). In this way, brands and retailers band together to forge ahead. It just makes business sense!

One of the most impactful partnerships is between e-commerce brands and their carriers. ShipStation recommends assessing your carriers, starting by researching the company’s commitment and mission on each carrier’s website. This small step can ensure your partners are supporting your own initiatives.

‘Consumers are increasingly recognising and making decisions based on the sustainability practices of a brand and retailers need to consider long-term sustainability options for their business,’ says Shannon Ingrey, Vice President & General Manager, APAC at BigCommerce. ‘With consumers more aware of their environmental impact than ever, it’s likely to become an even greater focus for all.’

As an industry, there are a variety of ways to ensure your company is headed in the right direction. Looking for practical ways to reduce your company’s footprint? Download ShipStation’s eBook Happy Customers, Healthy Planet here.

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