Consumers seek brands that align with their values and embrace social causes. In a survey conducted by IBM, nearly 6 in 10 consumers are willing to change their shopping behavior to reduce environmental impact and nearly 8 in 10 indicate that sustainability is important for them.
To fulfill the wants and needs of customers, retailers must also follow this trend. Thus, they are constantly on the lookout for new sustainable ways on how to use and reuse packaging materials, use ecological ways of transportation and lower their carbon footprint. This is where eco-friendly shipping comes in. Eco-friendly shipping is slightly different from green shipping which strives to improve the transportation itself, mainly in terms of using eco fuels and ecological vehicles to deliver goods. Eco-friendly shipping signifies that the whole process from the packaging up to delivery is environmentally friendly. Let’s have a look at the steps that any e-commerce company can apply now.
Optimal Packaging and Reusable Materials
Let’s start from the beginning, how many times have you received a package that was much bigger than the product itself? And let me guess it was filled with tons of unnecessary packaging material that just ended up in the trash bin. As a retailer, your responsibility is to pack orders responsibly. Always match the product’s dimensions with the package. This is not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective, carriers charge more for bigger packages.
Also, to obtain accurate real-time shipping rates from carriers you need to know the dimensions of your package and product. Matching these dimensions is sometimes referred to as smart packaging.
Many carriers care about the environment as well and are part of Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council certification standards. Carriers such as FedEx, UPS, or USPS offer reusable packaging supplies for free on their websites. For example, FedEx uses envelopes made of 93% recycled content. Also, their white and brown boxes are made from recycled content.
Ship Products in Bulk
Do not allow your customers to order small products individually. If your e-commerce site offers a lot of small items such as toothbrushes, cosmetics, or similar, prohibit ordering these items per piece. These products can be easily bundled and sent together.
Offer to sell these little items in larger packs and send them in bulk instead. Shipping small products separately is more expensive than shipping in bulk. Shipping in bulk has a hidden value in it, as well. Customers are obliged to schedule their purchases or share an order. They also notice that you care about the environment. As a result, you’ll have less shipping, fewer shipping costs, and possibly more sales.
No Return Policy
The goal of limiting return policy is to encourage your customers to shop more carefully. Nowadays anything may be returned quickly and easily. This is the policy of many businesses in order to satisfy their customers. In fact, they might be right, having an easy, fast, and free return policy is an advantage. However, it isn’t ecological, is it?
Though as based on the recent research by IBM consumers care about the environment and try to lower their carbon footprint. Does it mean that doing everything in your power to reduce the emissions, including having no return policy is a plus for your business?
The problem is that the customers do not pause to consider whether they really need the product. Online shopping became increasingly impulsive. Also, retailers realized that repairing and restocking broken products isn’t worth it, and it’s easier to simply get rid of them. Limiting the return policy will show your customers that your business is not one of them and unlike the others, it cares about the sustainability of products and concise shopping. Even though it may appear that having no return policy may reduce your sales, this is not the case. Offering a zero return policy might even save you some extra cost and time.
Curbside and In-store Pickup
Picking up your order in the store is more eco-friendly than having the order delivered to your home. Carriers do not have to drive all the way to your house, thus they save fuel which means less CO2 emissions. Giving your customers an option to choose their preferred way of shipping is a plus for the business as it shows that you care about your customers and their time. Curbside pickup can be viewed as even more eco-friendly shipping option than an in-store pickup. Why is that so? With curbside pickup, you do not have to ship the goods to the nearest store. You can simply ask your customers to pick up the products directly from the warehouse and place the products in the back of their cars. For retailers, this means no shipping cost whatsoever.
Eco-friendly Shipping Solution
Another way to achieve eco-friendly shipping is to get shipping software or plugin and set all the chores that can be done automatically as a default. Set up shipping options like an in-store or curbside pickup. Use dimensional weight shipping to match product attributes with the package, and ship in an eco-friendly way. You can automate the whole shipping process in the way it suits your e-commerce.