Sustainable E-commerce: 5 Sustainability Ideas for Shopify Stores

Change is inevitable. "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle" is no longer just another slogan. It’s a call to action that consumers are now answering to.

Sustainable ecommerce is no longer optional. Buyers want to buy from brands that understand them and appreciate what’s important to them. All it takes is some creativity and commitment!

From making strategic choices like lowering dependency on processes that produce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions, to other conscious efforts that help reverse climate change, there's a whole array of positive, sustainable actions brands can take to do their part.

Sustainable business models are the new frontier of retail and ecommerce, so let's talk about some of the moves that you can consider for your brand in the quest for carbon neutral, environmentally conscious processes.

Ecommerce Sustainability - Not Just Another Buzzword

Here’s the bad news. Sustainability isn’t always convenient. Especially in the ecommerce space where competition for the best products and the best prices is at a premium.

The good news? It makes sense in the long term and will have a positive effect on your bottom line.

So what is it exactly?

Sustainability focuses on natural resources and the ecological balance of the planet. Sustainability also involves balancing 3 pillars:

Environmental: This pillar focuses on the carbon footprint and ecological impact of the business. Think dependency on fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions, and the overall impact on our ecosystem. This is the pillar that moves us toward more sustainable practices with focuses on renewable energy and other means of improving environmental impact.

Economic: This pillar focuses on the viability and profitability of a company. However, sustainable profitability can’t come at the expense of the environmental and social pillars. You want the best products and prices for your online store, but it is all about a delicate balance between your profits and reductions in carbon footprint.

Social: This pillar involves paying attention to the supply chain of an ecommerce business and ensuring people involved in creating your products are treated fairly. One of the biggest follies of large corporation is forgetting about the people in their supply chain who make the business tick - from manufacturing to the shelf (or online checkout for ecommerce).

Ecommerce sustainability involves executing ecommerce practices to balance the needs of the present without compromising the future.

Sustainable Ecommerce Is The Future

Consumers are now demanding sustainable commerce—this is a growing trend that’s not going anywhere, any time soon. As your customer base becomes more eco-conscious and desires products that align with their values, it's your job to evolve with these demands.

Here are a few stats to think about:

  • According to Nielsen, 73% of consumers would alter their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact.
  • In a survey of 6,000 consumers across different continents, 83% believe it’s essential that companies design products that are meant to be reused or recycled.
  • The same survey also revealed that 72% of respondents said they’re currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago.

When it comes to buying behavior, it’s abundantly clear that customers care about thier carbon footprints and societal impact. So, what are some of the ideas that ecommerce businesses can use to kickstart their sustainability efforts?

Ecommerce Sustainability- 5 Ideas For Shopify Stores
1. Know Your Audience

It's essential to understand your customers and the causes they care about. Also, consider what your brand stands for and whether this is clear to your customers. For better or worse, some demographics and consumer bases will put a lower premium on sustainability than others.

While adopting more sustainable ecommerce practices is positive, you may not see a similar ROI if your specific audience isn’t sustainability-focused. Also, ecommerce businesses should do enough due diligence to make genuine changes that have a measurable difference.

Some entrepreneurs are looking for a catchall solution to becoming eco-friendly, but this isn't going to cut it. It's about doing the research to find what your customer base cares about and finding the right alignment between those concerns and your best path for maintaining profitability while reducing your carbon footprint.

2. Use Sustainable Ecommerce Platforms

Consumers are more likely to patron and trust companies with ethical and sustainable practices. Shopify stores can get creative in their sustainability efforts by using “sustainability plugins.” These plugins encourage sustainable practices for your business and customers. Not only are they fun to have, but they also help to offset your carbon footprint.

One such “sustainability plugin” is EcoCart. And it's free. (Yes, you read that right!)

EcoCart is a creative way to provide a simple option for your customers to add a small charge to their total to offset the carbon footprint of their order.

Once your customer checks the box, EcoCart calculates the carbon footprint of each order.  This process provides a simple, seamless way for your customers to reduce their carbon footprint as they shop online.

Installing the EcoCart app in your store is a great way to signal to customers and potential customers that your business values sustainability.

EcoCart helps Shopify stores with more sustainable ecommerce practices

3. Use Sustainable Ecommerce Packaging

Plastic-based mailing solutions may be widespread and cheap, but they aren’t sustainable.

There are more and more options becoming available for compostable, recyclable, and reusable shipping materials.

Packaging waste is a significant issue plaguing many eCommerce brands. Ecommerce businesses need to consider using less paper in their packaging.

For example, consider buying boxes in more sizes to fit smaller items better. Packaging that’s too large waste space and also requires more packing material to protect things.

4. Create Recycling Policies

In addition to using the right size of packaging boxes, eCommerce brands can also reduce waste by choosing sustainable packaging materials.

Here’s an interesting stat:

Only 75% of the energy used to make new cardboard is required when recycling cardboard.

Using cardboard and mailers that are recyclable makes the process of recycling easier for customers. Ecommerce businesses can also dramatically reduce the amount of waste they produce.

5. Measure Sustainability Efforts—Use Analysis Tools

Ecommerce sustainability is not just about supporting “tree-hugging” initiatives. Ecommerce sustainability involves understanding what customers want while quantifying what they are willing to pay for.

So, what’s the result?

It is creating solutions that resonate with audiences and drive revenue goals while moving towards a sustainable society.

In short, sustainability enhances your brand’s bottom line in the long run. But how do you measure this?

Analytical tools like Peel help. Peel can identify your customer behavior related to your brand and determine if “going green” has improved your ROI.

What’s more, using this data, you can understand what’s working, which customers are loyal over time and make suitable business decisions for your eCommerce brand.

Ecommerce Sustainability Isn’t Optional.

Ecommerce sustainability is essential.

Support your business by using platforms such as Ecocart, and it’s free!

What's more? Use Peel’s automated analysis tool to measure your progress.

Your business will benefit in more ways than one.

Shopify Sustainability - EcoCart + Peel for Ecommerce Sustainability