Understanding your consumer is key to turning a lead into a conversion. Therefore, it’s important that you are in the conversation. To be in the conversation, you have to know what they’re talking about. Consumers focus on many different social and environmental subjects. The internet offers information on everything you could think of. One of those concerns is the concept of sustainability. Consumers are more aware than ever about industry practices. That means, if your business doesn’t fit their standards, they will take their money elsewhere. Here at Eighteen Knowledge Group, we stay on top of consumer trends, so you know how to tackle them.  But what is ‘sustainability’ and how does it apply to you?

 

  1. What is Sustainability?
  2. How Does it Impact Ecommerce?
  3. Best Practices
  4. Empower the Customer

 

What is Sustainability?

 

Sustainability is defined as “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources”. Scientists warn that earth as we know it is in danger. The topic of climate change has been rampant everywhere. If your business doesn’t take a stance, consumers may believe you don’t share their concerns. Many are willing to purchase expensive products as long as they are eco-friendly. At one time, sustainable business practices were considered a waste of money and effort. Most thought it was a temporary fad. However, consumers are still well aware of the issues. In fact, it spans across generations and encompasses most demographics. Millennials are most concerned about the sustainability effort, but the older generations have caught on.

 

It is the rise of the Conscious Consumer: those who use their money to make a change in the world. They use their dollar to make a “vote”. By purchasing products and brands which align with their viewpoint. It is a broad concept, much like the concept of sustainability itself. Conscious consumers are concerned with social issues. They’re concerned with the environment. They want to reduce pollution, eliminate animal cruelty and do better for the world at large. Sustainability isn’t a new concept. It has been around for a while now. As time goes on, this demographic is not just a small part of the consumer population, but the majority. They want to finance businesses that take steps to build sustainable practices.

 

How Does it Impact Ecommerce?

 

Solving the logistics of ecommerce sustainability is not a simple task. Consumers have  Shoppers want more convenience. They want fast shipping, simple returns, and packaging which protects their items. Traditional supply chains have devised efficient supply chains which have minimized CO2 emissions. The same cannot be said of ecommerce initiatives. Faster shipping requires prioritizing convenience rather than efficiency. It is difficult to manage same-day shipping within the same neighborhood or area. Packages are not as consolidated. There are more vehicles required to make deliveries. Trucks are not the only vehicle used for deliveries. Those two-day and same-day shipping options often take advantage of independent drivers. These drivers own smaller vehicles which hold fewer packages. This increases pollution.

 

Furthermore, the packaging of these purchases is also an issue that needs to be addressed. Consumers take advantage of sales on single purchases. This is something which Amazon has taken advantage. These single items usually come in inconvenient, inefficient packaging. They come in large cardboard boxes with packaging air bags and packing peanuts. 40% of the box is filled with air. The inefficiencies are not just costly to the environment, they’re costly to the business. Taking a look at every part of the supply chain. Increase your sustainability practices to help make your logistics more efficient.

 

According to experts, ecommerce should actually be more sustainable for the planet. That is only if customers opt for slower deliveries instead of in-store visits. Businesses can save money by choosing the slower modes of delivery as well. Less independent contractors and more consolidated shipping. So, what can you do to make your ecommerce business more sustainable?

 

Best Practices

 

The two main concerns are transportation and packaging. It’s not a question of either or. To lower your business’s impact on the environment, both need to improve.

 

Packaging

 

Limit the use of plastic. It’s documented that plastic is threatening our environment.  Single-use plastics are the worst in all forms. Plastic air bags and packaging peanuts make up most of our landfills. Styrofoam has been a major issue. Companies have turned to biodegradable packing peanuts with some companies using edible products. Make sure your business is investing in biodegradable packing peanuts.

 

Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration bubble wrap or plastic air bags. Nor does it do anything about the massive cardboard boxes used to ship small items. The best course of action is to optimize the way you ship your packages. While it’s true that products get jostled around in-transit, that doesn’t mean making the box twice its size. Using more materials than required can add up. Minimizing your packaging and focusing on eco-friendly materials can build brand loyalty. New and innovative companies are also changing packaging. Major brands have partnered up with a very new initiative called Loop. Loop is attempting to eliminate plastic waste. Consumers will shop on the platform for partnered brands and Loop will send products in reusable containers to their doors.

 

Transportation

 

Recycling is important, but packaging only accounts for 5% of the carbon footprint. Choosing partners with a focus on eco-friendly practices can reduce your emissions. FedEx and UPS set their focus on improving sustainability with green shipping practices. Do what you can to research partner protocols. The supply chain can be sustainable, as shown by the biggest retailer. Walmart already has the best supply chain operations in the retail sector. But did you also know they are the leader in sustainability? It’s important to note, especially if you want to sell your products on Walmart’s shelves. One of the metrics on the supplier scorecard focuses on environmental sustainability. Walmart focuses on its suppliers to make changes to their practices. They identify supply chain inefficiencies and seek out “low-cost innovations”.

 

Amazon is trying to do the same. Their goal is to reduce waste and carbon emissions by using only renewable energy. By 2030 they want “50% of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon emissions”. They, too, are encouraging suppliers to change the way their supply chain operates. Improving sustainability practices is something your business needs to do.

 

Inform your Customers

 

As said, customers are willing to pay an increase on goods if it is more environmentally friendly. Businesses can make consumers aware of their shopping practices. Shoppers are less likely to choose faster delivery options if they know it will hurt the planet. Giving them the incentive to choose slower delivery speeds can help. It will also increase loyalty to your brand. If you use recyclable material and biodegradable packaging, say so. Consumers like transparency. They want to know they are supporting a company that aligns with their beliefs. Bringing awareness and transparency to the supply chain promotes trust.

 

Your customers want to know where your business stands. Use social media, blogs, and other outlets to inform consumers. If you can, partner with a charity organization. Offset any pollution you can’t eliminate. Plenty of brands are doing it. Your customer will appreciate that their purchase helped a good cause. Sustainability isn’t their only concern.

 

EKG Understands Consumer Trends

 

So, is your business working toward sustainability? Eighteen Knowledge Group stays on top of consumer trends. We take a look at the most popular trends and analyze the way they impact businesses. It’s important to understand your target audience. If you don’t, you may lose customers to a competitor. Everything from your product to your social media needs to speak to your audience. We use consumer trends as a way to better profile the wants and needs of consumers. This way, your brand voice and, story will better connect with them. Optimize every facet of your business with us. We’ll help make your business more efficient.