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Sustainable eCommerce is on the rise, and it’s urging brands of all industries to revamp their online retail to reflect compliance rather than complicity. Essentially, today’s consumers are pressuring brands to operate ethically–without disrupting their overall customer experience.

Going green is no longer an option but the future of business as we know it. Embracing eco-friendly practices will not only help you earn consumer trust while saving the planet, but it’ll also increase your revenue.

Discover how to make your sustainable eCommerce business profitable with small, simple changes. This includes optimizing packaging and delivery to be more efficient and leveraging tools to promote sustainable practices and products throughout your online store.

The Growing Impact of eCommerce on the Environment

Consumers are embracing online shopping like never before. Believe it or not, a staggering 96% of American shoppers have made at least one online purchase in their lives. Features such as same-day delivery, free returns, and effective merchandising strategies have helped the industry grow by leaps and bounds.

woman trying Sustainable eCommerce

Granted, the eCommerce revolution has positively and negatively impacted our planet.

Positive Impacts of eCommerce on the Environment

Unsurprisingly, eCommerce stores are generally more carbon-efficient than brick-and-mortar stores. While the size of that efficiency gap depends on several factors–such as the logistics chain, the type of products, and the elimination of customer transportation–there’s no denying that eCommerce is a sustainable alternative to physical shopping. Here are some positive impacts eCommerce has had on the environment.

Lesser Greenhouse Gas Emissions

For one, online stores emit 2.9 times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regular brick-and-mortar stores. Greenhouse gases are a major contributor to climate change. ECommerce stores require less land, storage, parking lots, and vehicles than regular stores. Not to mention, customers who shop from the comfort of their homes don’t add to transportation emissions.

Elimination of Paper Waste

Paper is considered one of the biggest industrial polluters of land, water, and air. It is also one of the largest energy consumers in general. Paper mills are also responsible for creating deforestation, making the world a less natural place for humans and animals.

With digitization, the environmental strain is lifted to some extent. It not only benefits businesses economically, but it also helps the environment by eliminating the need for paperwork.

Increased Energy Efficiency

ECommerce stores can have lower energy consumption as they generally have smaller physical storefronts and require less lighting and cooling. They also benefit from economies of scale by consolidating warehouse and distribution operations.

Negative Impacts of eCommerce on the Environment

Even though eCommerce reduces a lot of environmental pollution, there are still some drawbacks companies must address moving forward:

Packaging Drawbacks

While eCommerce reduces fuel burning and transport use, it also creates packaging waste. Often, products are wrapped in single-use plastics and stored in cardboard boxes with styrofoam or other materials, which get thrown away after the item has been delivered. This leads to increased waste in landfills and worse recycling rates.

Handling Returns

Returning items can also significantly contribute to environmental pollution. Every return shipment contributes to greenhouse gases. Also, returns often generate additional packaging waste.

Sustainability in Online Shopping: Is It Possible?

Several e-retailers are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. Even at a government level, countries are changing their approaches. For example, the EU utilizes an EMAS system to ensure higher-quality environmental management. This system provides labels such as the Fairtrade label and the EU organic logo to promote sustainability efforts.

sustainability in online shopping

At a company level, there are several eco-conscious decisions your brand can take to become more environmentally friendly as well:

Green Packaging

Many products come in plastic and styrofoam packaging, which is detrimental to the environment. Going plastic-free and using packaging materials, such as recyclable cardboard boxes can prevent plastic pollution. You should also consider smaller packaging and incentivizing the shipping of multiple orders together.

Using Solar Panels

Solar panels are renewable, which makes them an eco-friendly source of energy. By adding solar panels for energy use in warehouses, your business can potentially save a lot on energy bills while going greener.

Optimizing Online Store

Small efforts, such as writing detailed product descriptions and providing high-quality images, can reduce the chances of returns as shoppers can make an informed decision.

Building Sustainable eCommerce With Smart Merchandiser

If you want to create a sustainable eCommerce system, then you’ll need an effective merchandising tool. Smart Merchandiser allows you to create a greener and more sustainable online business.

girl taking pictures of her sustainable product

Here’s how you can leverage Smart Merchandiser for your sustainability efforts:

Promote Eco-Friendly Product Attributes

Highlight product attributes that demonstrate a significant reduction in environmental impact. Smart Merchandiser allows you to customize descriptions and emphasize positive attributes, such as recyclable and biodegradable materials, green packaging, and more. For the business owners, they can simply click on the “Sustainable” badge on each product to apply the attribute and make it visible to shoppers.

Implement a Sustainable Display

By changing your retail display methods, you can let your customers know that you care about the environment. With the visual catalog management feature, you can update your store display to highlight sustainable products. You can also create custom graphics and designs to market green products better or set up the “Sustainability” filter to give shoppers a clearer choice..

Initiate Green Marketing

As a whole, green marketing fosters a deeper connection between the brand and customers. It builds upon brand credibility and trust while opening doors for prospective customers looking to go green themselves.

Start by communicating your sustainability efforts on social media. Advertise your sustainability goals and incentivize customers who support the initiative, such as those who opt for bulk shipping. With Smart Merchandiser, you can also create custom product recommendations that align with your sustainability goals.

Go For Sustainable eCommerce With Smart Merchandiser

There are no two ways about it: sustainable eCommerce is the future. Better yet, online stores have a unique dual advantage of going green. They get to help the planet and ultimately make more money for doing so.

Smart Merchandiser enables you to take your sustainability initiatives online. Our drag-and-drop option lets you quickly create a feature-rich interface to promote your initiatives. You can also customize attributes and highlight sustainable products.

From designing a stellar front end to managing the back end with just a few clicks, it’s the only tool you’ll ever need. Contact us today to learn why Smart Merchandiser is the best solution for your eCommerce store in the sustainable era.