Sustainability in eCommerce: How green is your online shop?

Environmental and sustainability awareness is long since a new trend in eCommerce. Online retailers have been working on topics like ecology and sustainability for some time now, which will have a strong impact on the future and which are increasingly being demanded by consumers. But actually how environmentally aware is your online shop? And which measures can you still implement for your green-minded customers?

The environmental awareness of Germans is continuing to grow. This is made clear by an empirical study by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Last year, environmental and climate protection ranked third among respondents as the most important problems facing Germany.

The trend from recent years shows that many retailers have already reconsidered ecologically and entered into green business, with furniture and home accessories made from wooden pallets, paper, cardboard or cork. In terms of environmental friendliness, some online shops have already established themselves with a sustainable business concept. Shops such as memolife.de, mehr-gruen.de and 4betterdays.com actively promote sustainability and sell mainly ecological and fair trade products.

Many aspects favour a green online shop

Consumers are pleased about sustainable, fair and durable products and are also ready to pay more for them. Ultimately, sustainability measures have a positive impact on the environment and many workers from low-cost producer countries will also benefit from better working conditions. By actively promoting the environment as an online retailer, you will be increasingly bonding customers to your business and, ideally, even gaining new customers. A positive side effect in this context is the generation of higher profits. In today’s article, we show you how important the topic of sustainability is for consumers and how you can apply this knowledge to your online shop.

Online shopping: How do consumers evaluate the topic of sustainability?

According to a study by ECC Köln, the sustainability measures of online shops are of particularly enormous importance to those consumers surveyed. It is in these shops that customers also see a big benefit for themselves. These include, for example, the offer of durable, economical items and products which are harmless to health.

Online shoppers have clear ideas about web shops

The topic of greenwashing is occupying customers immensely, with nine out of ten consumers saying that they appreciate the honest communication of the online retailer with regard to sustainable offerings (91.2%). On the other hand, they also presume a seriousness of the online retailer for not making misleading advertising promises (90.9%). Accordingly, providers should only communicate to the outside world the sustainable aspects of their online shop that they comply with and monitor at all times.

Some 85.1 percent of consumers are in favour of excluding products from the assortment, provided these have raised concerns that they are detrimental to health. Another 81.4 percent of respondents consider particularly important the promotion in online shops of durable and economical products.

In terms of the environment, almost every eighth consumer advocates saving unnecessary packaging materials, while also calling for the re-use of packaging boxes.

Sustainability should not be a foreign word for online retailers

For you, the online retailer, there are many opportunities from the above aspects for your own shop. If consumers now place greater value on sustainable online shops and products, then it is advisable to make your own webshop a shade greener as well. After all, such measures not only protect the environment, but also provide for additional revenue and higher profits.

Score sustainability points in the areas of shipping and assortment

How often do you, the online retailer, hear that eCommerce per se cannot be sustainable? But with the following sustainability measures you can show that your online shop is exactly that. Arrange the shipping of your products ecologically and take over the treatment and disposal of products and packaging. Assign a suitable parcel service that promises a climate-neutral shipping of your goods, such as DHL GoGreen or UPS carbon neutral. We also recommend using shipping boxes multiple times and using packaging material made of paper and cardboard or, alternatively, wood chips. Avoid too much packaging for such small contents. This not only saves on shipping and packaging costs, but also pleases your customers.

Even through small incentives, you can encourage your customers to think more environmentally consciously. Point out that ordering an article in multiple sizes or variations impacts the environment. Or offer the consumer certain incentives through credits or discounts to reward them for not returning ordered products.

From packaging material to parcel service, actively communicate your sustainability measures to the outside world. The re-use of shipping boxes, the use of ecological packaging material, and also the choice of a climate neutral parcel service speaks in favour of your shop.

Also think about a sustainable shaping of product range

The green trend is spreading and customers are becoming more and more demanding. They not only attach great importance to environmentally friendly shipping, but also insist on a sustainable design of product range from fair and durable products. Be sure to use this knowledge and implement it in your own online shop. Customise your assortment to meet growing customer needs. Include a new category in your online shop and offer your customers sustainable products. This measure is particularly worthwhile for shop owners in the fashion, home or beauty sectors, since there is a great willingness here to buy ecological and sustainable products.

“Online retailers who are already deliberately introducing individual sustainability aspects into their strategy can differentiate themselves from the competition and hold onto those ‘first movers’ for themselves”, says Boris Hedde, Managing Director of IFH Köln.

Receive support in green eCommerce from market analysis tools

Don’t hesitate to jump aboard the green train. With the help of sustainability measures you will not only inspire existing customers, but also gain new ones. After all, green eCommerce ultimately pays off for everyone. Consumers now have the opportunity to buy ecological and fair products in eCommerce also. The environment benefits from a sustainable use of resources, the exploitation of workers in low-cost producer countries decreases and you as a retailer remain competitive.
Be aware, however, that such measures alone are by no means sufficient to exist successfully in the online market. For online retailers, it is of essential importance to keep an eye on your own market in order to plan ahead. Get an overview of your competitors and their products and pricing today. Like a large number of online retailers, use an automated software solution like blackbee, which captures, structures and processes market data on the Internet on a daily basis. With this competitive information, you can react instantly to shifting market conditions and thus always stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Monitor your market and receive continuous knowledge about your competitors. Test blackbee today and convince yourself of our prize-winning software!