Recently, we have heard the word sustainability many times across all sectors. But what is it, and how small-medium e-commerce brands can positively contribute to sustainability?
Let’s begin by defining “sustainability.” According to the United Nations, Sustainability is fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being.
In business terms, the meaning is to look at the products and services produced and consider their impact on the environment and society.
In this post, we will explain the main pillars and practices to become a sustainable e-commerce brand and how you can positively impact your business, customer acquisition and customer retention.
Consumers are now aware of the product’s impact on the environment. As e-commerce sales have increased, as seen in our previous blog, “Cross-Border eCommerce – The key to international growth,” the impact on the environment has become an essential topic for consumers.
In summary, this is the perfect time for small-medium e-commerce brands to start implementing sustainable practices that positively impact the environment while satisfying shoppers.
What are the three pillars of sustainability?
Environment: Focuses on biodiversity conservation without hurting economic and social progress, for example, safeguarding energy, reducing waste, reusing paper, and using sustainable transport.
Economy: This refers to the ability of a company to manage its resources and responsibly generate profits in the long term. For example, create and promote awareness among consumers regarding responsible consumption.
Society refers to ensuring proper working conditions and fair wages rather than just caring about volume and spending. It is about caring for employees and those in the supply chain and giving back to communities in need.
Taking these pillars into account, here are four best practices you can implement to become a sustainable e-commerce brand.
- Supply chain
It is essential to know where the raw materials for producing your products come from and how workers are treated. This is the first step to see if you need to make changes and how you can improve to contribute to sustainability.
For example, if you are a fashion brand, you would check whether the fabrics used are recycled, if the cotton is organic, and about the travel time and energy used to produce. By auditing your supply chain, you can find out what you need to do or change to be more sustainable.
As an e-commerce brand, the packaging is essential to deliver your products in good condition. Sometimes it is almost impossible not to use specific packaging to protect your products as much as possible. Still, there are alternatives that you can use to reduce the impact on the environment and be cost-effective without hurting quality.
- Use just enough packaging to protect the product, avoid oversized packaging
- Use packaging made of recycled materials
- Recycle old boxes, paper bags, or paper sheets by shedding them to use as a protective material for packaging
- Go paperless with invoices.
- Promote and raise awareness of the recycling of packaging materials by finding a new use or giving them back to you or recycling companies.
Here are some ideas on how your company can implement sustainability in shipping your products.
- When possible, ship in bulk.
- Ask your customers to ensure their chosen address is the right one, and offer delivery alternatives to avoid additional trips and save resources.
- Use a cross-border solution such as BorderGuru, part of Hermes, a global logistics champion based in Germany, committed to reducing CO2 emissions and taking sustainability measures such as using electric vans, cargo bikes and renewable energy.
- Save money, time and transport resources by offering your customers the opportunity to pay taxes and duties at checkout and have customs-clear orders so their package is delivered to their chosen address without additional costs or trips. You can offer this with BorderGuru’s Shopify cross-border shipping app.
Returns for online shops are inevitable because there are various reasons a customer wants to return an item. But here’s what you can do to reduce returns:
- Provide clear information about your products, such as exact size information, high-quality photos and photos of different sizes, to avoid customers choosing the wrong size and reduce the likelihood of disappointment when they receive something different from what they expected.
- Implement policies to avoid customers ordering the same product in different sizes to reduce the probability of returning unwanted items.
- You could offer customers small discounts if they waive their return option.
Once you have decided what to implement to contribute to sustainability, it is time to communicate this clearly and honestly with your customers. So, here are some tips to help you achieve this.
- The homepage
In this section of your website, make sure that you share the sustainability practices of your brand with your customers in a friendly and exciting way for your target market, especially if you have certifications that increase the credibility of your brand’s sustainability statements and decisions.
- Product page
Here you should share in detail information about your products’ source and production process and show their sustainable part. For example, if you are a clothing brand and use organic cotton, you should share it here.
Be transparent about reducing carbon emissions from customer purchases, for example, by using a carrier like BorderGuru Hermes, which is committed to reducing its environmental impact. Another idea is to add a planet badge to your online store to show your commitment to shipping carbon neutrality to your customers.
- About Us page
It would be best if you highlighted all your brand’s efforts to reduce the environmental impact. For example, if you have a donation or buyback program or program to encourage your customers to recycle non-used products. All this information is a great way to show how much you care about the environment and prioritize the life cycle of your products.
This is the right time for your brand to become more sustainable and sell across borders! Take your US e-commerce brand to the next level and start selling to up to 200 countries using BorderGruru’s cross-border solution. Many potential customers from different countries are waiting for your brand to be available in their countries. Do not miss this opportunity and take advantage of this growing global demand!