How eCommerce Businesses Can Be More Sustainable

Over two billion people purchased goods or services online in 2020, according to Statista. During the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. And with all of these ecommerce transactions comes real life footprints.

For retailers, eCommerce comes with shipping. And with shipping comes boxes, transportation emissions, and a lot of plastic packaging material, meaning that every one of those purchases ultimately had an impact on the environment.

Making your eCommerce business more sustainable not only reduces your environmental impact, but also helps you better appeal to sustainability-minded consumers: A 2019 study found that 80% of consumers in North America, Europe, and Asia felt it was “important or extremely important” for companies to design environmentally conscious products. 72% of study respondents reported that they were actively buying more environmentally friendly products than they did five years ago, while 81% said they expected to buy even more over the next five years. Consumers with those inclinations are more likely to buy from brands that employ eco-friendly practices.

Embracing sustainability doesn’t require you to change everything about your business, but it does require you to evolve your practices in ways that can make a difference. Here are some ways to improve sustainability at your eCommerce company.

Embrace eco-friendly shipping practices

Making your shipping process more sustainable is one of the simplest ways to reduce your environmental impact.

  • Choose recycled, sustainable packaging when selecting boxes and packaging materials.
  • Ship in bulk whenever possible.
  • Encourage customers to reuse or send back any product containers. (Offering customers incentives to return them to you — such as rewards or discounts on future orders — can spark return purchases while helping you reduce container costs.)
  • Consider making use of UPS’ carbon-neutral shipping option, which allows you to pay a small, UPS-matched-per-package fee to support projects that offset the emissions of your shipment’s transport. (You can add an option at checkout for customers to pay the offset costs if you wish.)
  • Use email-only receipts and paperless invoicing — available from FedEx, UPS, and USPS — to help you cut down on waste.

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