Sustainable Ecommerce: An Emerging Trend

How do you run your online business, manage to stay sustainable, and keep up with the latest trends?

What is business sustainability? It means to sustain your company or organization long-term without harming the environment. It is one of the eCommerce trends shaping the future of online retail.

How do you run your online business, manage to stay sustainable, and keep up with the latest trends? In this blog, we’ll discuss some sustainability trends and how to keep up with them.

The Rise of Business Sustainability in eCommerce

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the eCommerce industry. Statista predicts global eCommerce sales to grow from $5.2 trillion in 2021 to $8.1 trillion in 2026. That’s a potential increase of over 55% in the next few years!

As eCommerce thrives, online retail brands should keep up with recent trends, such as automation, personalization, artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR), mobile commerce, and cryptocurrency. However, one thing they must not ignore is sustainability in business.

Harvard defines sustainability as “doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.” If you’re an online retailer, this means examining how your eCommerce business impacts the environment and society.

Here’s good news: Three-quarters of organizations claim they have increased their sustainability investments over the past few years. Some may be hard to implement, but Deloitte’s report shows that top measures that have been taken so far:

  • Nearly 60% use more sustainable materials and increase energy consumption efficiency.
  • Almost 55% leverage energy-efficient or environmentally friendly tools and technologies.
  • About 50% train employees on climate change.

The ESG (environmental, social, and governance) framework is a holistic approach, which acts as a guide for companies on how to manage risks and seize opportunities.

Here’s why your online business should promote eCommerce sustainability:

  • Environmental preservation: Ever since the Industrial Revolution, companies across all industries have been destroying the planet. Hence, it makes sense for eCommerce businesses to help protect the environment going forward!
  • Positive brand reputation: Brands that are socially responsible build consumer trust by making a good impression. Over 76% consider Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR a way to reduce risk in brand reputation.
  • Customer support and loyalty: Consumers have become aware of the companies’ negative impact on the environment and society. They are more likely to shop from socially responsible brands offering sustainable products and services.
  • Cost efficiency and profitability: Promoting sustainability, like using raw, organic materials and supporting local businesses, can help you reduce costs and save money. Meanwhile, building consumer trust and earning customer loyalty as a sustainable brand can boost profits.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Implementing sustainable practices and getting certified, such as ISO 140001, will legal compliance to avoid hefty penalties and legal ramifications.
  • Sustainable eCommerce business: About 93% of CEOs believe business sustainability is crucial for their future success. Aligning your goals with sustainability objectives and implementing best practices will help your eCommerce business survive and even thrive in the long term.

Let’s explore some trends of eCommerce sustainability next!

4 eCommerce Trends for Promoting Sustainability

Sustainability is no longer just a business initiative some companies should consider implementing. It should be a way of life incorporated into every business operation. Doing so ensures business continuity and long-term success.

That said, here are four sustainable eCommerce trends you should keep:

1. The Call for Environmental Protection

It’s no secret how companies across all industries have been destroying the planet. That’s why the idea of sustainability has emerged to address this problem. The primary focus is on protecting the environment.

Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President at altLINE Sobanco, highlights the value of business sustainability for environmental protection.

Pendergast says, “Sustainability is about conducting business operations that do not harm the environment. But more importantly, it’s about companies and organizations contributing to saving the planet.”

He suggests sustainable measures for environmental protection:

  • Carbon footprint reduction: Statista reported an increase in global greenhouse emissions by over 60% for the last 30 years, which amounts to 37.5 GtCO₂ in 2022. To address this, focus on the 3Rs—reduce, reuse, and recycle waste products and materials.
  • Renewable energy sources: Derived from natural resources, renewable sources of energy are better alternatives to fossil fuels. Consider using solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and bioenergy for your business.
  • Eco-friendly vehicles: Forrester reports that Five Fortune Global 200 firms announced travel policies for sustainability. Invest in sustainable vehicles like electric cars, cargo bikes, and hybrid trucks, and the necessary eMobility software migration.

2. The Focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

70% of Americans say companies have a social responsibility to make this world a better place, and 77% of consumers choose to buy from companies with this commitment.

Morgan Taylor, Co-Founder of Jolly SEO, underscores the importance of CSR.

Taylor argues, “Businesses do not only create value for the consumers; they exist to benefit their immediate communities. And what better way to be a socially responsible company than to set ethical, financial, environmental, and philanthropic practices?”

Taylor mentions the four key areas of CSR in business.

  • Ethical responsibility: Implement ethical practices and uphold moral obligations as a company or organization. For example, offer office holidays to employees for promoting diversity and inclusion and proactively combat discrimination in the workplace.
  • Economic responsibility: Brands have the financial obligation to contribute to their communities. For instance, creating a scholarship program.
  • Environmental responsibility: The ultimate CSR goal is to preserve the environment and save Mother Earth.
  • Philanthropic responsibility: As a socially responsible company, it’s time to give back to the communities. Start by doing charity work, whether providing donations or doing medical outreach.

3. The Use of Digital Tools and Technologies

Digital tools and technological resources can give brands a leg up in the business landscape, but also in terms of their sustainability practices.

Jim Rainey, VP of Growth at CoPilot Search, recommends using technology for business sustainability.

Rainey argues, “Sure, technological advancements have contributed much to hurting the planet due to modernization and industrialization. However, companies should consider leveraging technology for the better.

Rainey suggests how to use modern technologies to promote sustainability.

  • Automation: Robotic process automation (RPA) automates processes and reduces manual tasks. Use this technology to increase work efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and establish a paperless workplace environment.
  • Artificial intelligence: Take advantage of AI, the simulation of human intelligence into machines, for sustainability. For example, offer self-service options like AI-powered chatbots, IVR systems, and a knowledge base to empower customers, aid employees, and reduce energy consumption.
  • Data analytics: Capitalize on machine-learning-powered analytics for data analysis, forecasting, and reporting in business. For instance, optimize eCommerce fulfillment to increase customer satisfaction, inventory to avoid overstocking, and supply chain to reduce waste products.

4. Changing Consumer Behavior towards Sustainable Businesses

Did you know that 90% of customers trust socially responsible businesses? Consumers are more likely to purchase from brands with CSR initiatives and support sustainable products or services. This reflects the evolving consumer behavior towards sustainable companies.

Gerald Lombardo, Head of Growth at Popl, suggests focusing on sustainability for positive brand reputation, consumer trust, and customer loyalty.

Lombardo explains, “Businesses and consumers are aware of companies’ impact on the planet. They are both working hand in hand to protect the environment. While socially responsible companies have started offering sustainable products and services, customers have begun patronizing them.”

Here’s how to align your sustainable practices with the consumer behavior:

  • Become a sustainable brand. What better way to survive and thrive as a business than to promote sustainability as early as now? Incorporate CSR into your business values and practices.
  • Offer sustainable products. Gen Z comprises 40% of the global consumers with a $143 billion worth of purchasing power. As they have become morally, environmentally, and socially aware, offer them sustainable goods and services to build trust and gain loyalty.
  • Sell second-hand goods or items. Offer pre-owned items, such as vintage Rolex, jewelry pieces, and other collectibles. Reusing or repurposing products is just a simple but smart way to foster sustainability in business.

Final Words

Companies and organizations across all industries can no longer ignore the call for sustainability. The eCommerce industry should heed the call! A quick review of the trends we’ve covered so far:

  • Promoting environmental protection
  • Prioritizing Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Leveraging technology
  • Meeting consumer needs

If you pracitce sustainability, you’ll build a positive reputation amongst consumers, which you can leverage their loyalty to grow a successful and thriving online business!

Want more digital marketing tips?