The internet has transformed the way we do shopping. In 2017 alone, Amazon shipped over 5 billion items worldwide.
Many of us who shop online are looking for almost instant gratification. When we make a purchase we expect to receive the product within a matter of hours. And to meet this demand, packages are being delivered on a 24/7 basis.
Not many Amazon businesses are aware of how such trends have impacted their carbon footprint. For any organization, a reduction of environmental impact can prove to be a tall order. Even more so for ones that are reliant on the physical transportation of goods.
Nevertheless, relatively small changes can prove to have a measurable impact.
1. Sustainable Shipping and Shipping Efficiency
There’s never been as much demand for speedy shipments in eCommerce as now. With 87 billion parcels shipped worldwide in 2018 (a 104% increase over 2014), inevitably there is a massive environmental impact.
There are numerous ways that the environmental impact of shipping can be reduced: from the reduction of the amount of packaging used to saving on ink by using thermal printers to print labels, to placing a heavy reliance on eco-friendly shipping programs available from major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx (paperless invoicing, etc.).
A further way to ensure shipping practices are more sustainable is to discourage the return of merchandise. When merchandise is shipped two ways there’s a double impact on the environment. As a way of combating this, Amazon sellers need to provide crystal clear product descriptions, more explicit sizing information (when relevant), and more. This way the customer will know precisely what they’ll be getting before parting with their money.
2. Upcycled/Biodegradable Packaging
For product packaging, go for recycled materials. Selecting C2C (cradle to cradle) certified boxes – boxes put together with materials that cause no detriment to the environment – is one way to proceed.
Styrofoam is an exceptionally popular filler for packages. Styrofoam is a petroleum-based substance that never biodegrades. eCommerce brands looking to reduce their carbon footprint might consider something like EarthAware™ Biodegradeable Packing Materials instead.
Brands can easily reduce the volume and size of the packaging they use. This reduces the amount of materials utilized and takes up less transportation space.
3. Biodegradable/Eco-Friendly Products
Sustainability can become a key aspect of your business by selling products that have a sustainability focus. After all, there’s a growing number of consumers that are particularly intent on buying such products.
As an example, a company that has a strong presence on Amazon, LARQ, manufactures the world’s first self-cleaning water bottles. The bottles are aesthetically designed and many people are favoring LARQ-produced water bottles over single-use plastic bottles. But LARQ does not merely stop there. The company donates a percentage of its income to 1% For The Planet as a way of furthering its sustainability mission.
When you include products that encourage people to live more sustainably within your inventory, you’re essentially opening your business to an entirely fresh consumer base.
4. Source Materials From Local Suppliers
As a brand representative, you’ll have undertaken extensive research about suppliers. Of importance is supplier reputation, quality of service, and of course price point. But you shouldn’t neglect to factor in the location of the supplier.
Utilizing the services of local suppliers is beneficial to the environment. But it is, likewise, good for your business. When you partner up with local businesses you are able to:
View the business in person before investing
Culture a relationship with your suppliers that is more human
Retain money within the local economy
5. Donate to a Green Cause
When you align your brand with environmental organizations it helps to make your customers feel good when they buy from you.
The statistics back this up: some 81% of millennials prefer to support brands that have corporate citizenship.
To make the greatest impact, the key is to choose organizations that align with your own brand values and organizations that resonate with your audience.
As a seller on Amazon, you can lay claim to the fact that a portion of each sale you make is donated to a green cause. To broadcast your charitable activities, the appropriate place to mention it is in your seller’s account ‘About Us’ section. Buyers that witness your storefront or those that leave reviews will be able to see this information.
eCommerce in general and not least on Amazon and how it can impact the environment has a massive scope. Understandably, taking a stance can seem to be an overwhelming proposition.
But you don’t need to radically alter your entire business from the get-go. There’s no requirement to invest in a bunch of carrier pigeons to have your products shipped (Amazon will have drones to take handle customer shipments for you).
Rather, consider your business as a whole. Think about how you might implement just a couple of the concepts discussed here into everyday business practices.
Then, note what’s working well and what’s not going according to plan. Make adjustments to your strategies for a more eco-friendly business accordingly.