We hear all the time about online alternatives to those products and services which are known to be environmentally harmful. Doing things online simply means less physical material either having to be produced, recycled, or disposed of. However, this could lead some to the erroneous conclusion that e-commerce does not come with its own set of very serious environmental challenges
And you don’t need to think very long before realizing what these are. When you order something online, it needs to be delivered to you. This means material used for packaging and the physical transport of goods by road, rail, or air – none of those processes being particularly green.
But then the ecommerce generation is the most environmentally conscious yet because the environmental challenge is greater than it ever has been before. This means then that they are concerned about the environmental impact of their consumer purchases. As an ecommerce company, you want those consumer purchases to continue as they mean sales for you. This means that investing in green alternatives holds an economic incentive. It is also the thing to do if you are genuinely concerned about the environmental impact of your trade.
A Challenge that Rises with Growth
The very small ecommerce ventures tend to have a certain “cottage industry” quaintness to them. A quite common choice for the smallest ecommerce businesses is homemade items, or specialist items that are difficult to find elsewhere. These companies make the least environmental impact – and they are also the least profitable. Most order fulfillment will be completed at home and the orders posted out personally. If this is you, you probably don’t need to worry about putting any customers off on account of sustainability.
As a company grows through, this is something which changes. More customers mean customers further away and a bigger delivery carbon footprint. More customers also means that fulfillment can no longer be completed in house. You are also simply making more sales, and the environmental impact of each one is thus multiplied.
At the top of the scale, global ecommerce companies have the potential to make a serious environmental impact when shipping goods all over the world. Order fulfillment service Shipping and Handling of Texas, who have warehousing in Houston, say that we can learn from these companies as it is the likes of Amazon and eBay that are investing most heavily in sustainability. They have both the revenue to manage this and the environmental impact of their business operations to encourage it.
Tips for Sustainable Ecommerce
Most of these sustainable practices can be adopted, in a modified way, by smaller companies. Here follows some top ways to go green:
Transfer in Bulk Where Possible
When shipping to customers, try to send packages in bulk shipments as much as possible. Your ability to do this will vary a lot depending on what resources you have and how large your customer base is. But less deliveries overall is always the goal.
Optimize Delivery Routes
When goods are out for last mile delivery, carbon emissions are the unfortunate side effect. Nevertheless, new technologies can optimize the routes taken by delivery drivers, ensuring the most drop-offs along a route and the minimum distance driven.
Don’t Always Offer Express Delivery
You should be careful here, as customers can become less concerned about the environment when their deliveries are taking longer. However, there are some products that don’t need to be expressly shipped, so you can strategically offer express delivery only where it is necessary.
By keeping an eye on your environmental impact, you can garner a reputation as a green company. These days, this can go a very long way indeed.