Looking for a way to make your online store more environmentally friendly? Here are just a few different ways to make your ecommerce business greener.
Choose the right delivery method
Not having a physical store can lead to less energy consumption – which can lead to lower carbon emissions. However, online stores often make up for this in carbon emissions released during the delivery process.
Fortunately, there are many ways to make the delivery process more eco-friendly. One option is to choose methods such as LTL freight delivery – this involves sharing a truck with cargo from other companies when a full truckload isn’t needed.
What does it cost to ship LTL freight? Often a lot less than using a full truck. In fact, many eco-friendly delivery options can also save money.
Sometimes going eco-friendly does mean sacrificing convenience for the customer. If you offer next-day delivery to customers several states away, it often means relying on air transport instead of road delivery, which is more costly and a lot worse for the environment. By promoting the reduced costs and environmental benefits of slower delivery methods, you may be able to convince some customers to use these options.
Consider your packaging
Plastic is often used in packaging because it's resilient and because it’s effective at sealing liquids and small parts. However, not all plastic is recyclable – and any plastic that is recyclable still requires a lot of energy to recycle compared to the recyclability of other materials.
Options such as paper and cardboard can often be used in place of plastic. For instance, instead of bubble-wrap and plastic bags, there may be the option to use paper filler and paper bags. There are environmentally friendly packaging companies that supply this packaging. If you do have to use plastic, make sure that it is recyclable and try to make customers aware of this.
Minimize returned goods
Every time goods are returned, extra carbon emissions are produced. Returns can also lead to a loss of money for you and extra hassle dealing with the returned gods. By minimizing returned goods, you can solve multiple problems.
Some people return goods because a product is genuinely damaged or because it is not what was advertised on your site. Damage can be prevented by ensuring that your product is durable and that packaging is strong enough. As for avoiding ‘false advertising’, it’s important that you are transparent with the product information you provide (such as using clear photos and details on measurements).
Others may return goods simply because they decide that they no longer like them. This behaviour is popular with clothing and is harder to discourage – some consumers may buy multiple clothes from a site with the intention of trying them on and returning any items they don’t like. Charging customers for returns can be a way to deter this behaviour. A flexible return period of several months can also encourage customers to delay returns – which has been found to reduce returns by causing customers to form attachments to products or to simply forget about returning them.