Eco-friendly online store: this is how it works!

In this blog we show you how to make your online shop more sustainable. And, by the way, exceed customer expectations by far!
Christian Kautzsch  |  20.07.2024  |  Time to read 6 Min
Bildschirm auf welchem eine Weltkugel zu sehen ist, aus welcher ein Blatt wächst

Sustainability is crucial for consumer behaviour

The topic of environmental protection and climate change continues to be omnipresent. According to the Worry Barometer of Credit Suisse, it is number two on the ranking list (Credit Suisse 2023).

Credit-Suisse_Sorgenbarometer_2022_EN

Despite the current corona crisis and its effects on the economy, the issue of sustainability is still a major concern. It also has a major influence on the purchasing decisions of today's consumers. If you position your online shop as sustainable and green, you can win new customers. Especially if your competitors have disappointed the customers in this respect.

Customers prefer environmentally friendly online stores

One thing is clear: an online shop is not automatically a climate polluter. On the contrary! If you take the most important factors into account, you can score points in terms of sustainability with your online shop. 

It goes without saying that production and the production site are important factors when it comes to environmental protection. If you have your products produced in a developing country in an environmentally harmful or even exploitative manner, climate-friendly shipping is of course pure greenwashing. 

Apart from a fair, socially acceptable and resource-saving production you have several opportunitiesto make a big contribution to environmental protection in terms of your online store. And this is how you do it!

Communicate transparently your customers will appreciate that

Transparency pays off: If you are honest with your customers and disclose how and where you produce, which suppliers and producers you work with, you are behaving responsibly. Your customers will appreciate this!

Today, there are many ways to track the value chain  using RFID and block chain technology. Make use of this! Honestly show your customers where you get the components from. This creates trust in your shop. Pleasant side effect: the re-purchase rates increase.

You should also not compromise on privacy and security. Again, inform clearly during checkout about the data protection guidelines and about the encryption and security features of your online shop.


Sustainable design

You decide on the design of your products. This also has a significant influence on sustainability. It is best to think about the materials you want to use for your products before you start manufacturing them. Products are not about producing them for eternity. It is about achieving a specific shelf life. 

Our recommendation: Use so-called low-impact materials. These are materials that are non-toxic, sustainable and recyclable (Circular Economy). These can be, for example, renewable raw materials, which are ideally local or regional and compostable.

Circular Economy: new solutions

Circular Economy means recycling management. In other words, finding creative solutions and innovative ideas to keep our economy in circular motion. This means, for example, using materials that can be recycled and reused. This can go as far as Biomimicry. It allows materials to be constantly reused in continuously closed cycles.


The optimized shipping: essential for your online shop

But it is not only production that is crucial for green online trading. Shipping plays an equally important role. Of course, depending on the product, it can make sense to send it by a fast - and expensive - courier. However, experience shows that especially for cross-border shipments no Next Day Delivery is expected.

Discover our white paper for practical tips and tricks for environmentally conscious shipping. We show you the impact of your packaging on sustainability and how you can implement sustainable logistics with our measures. Be part of the sustainability movement and get our whitepaper for a greener future now!


Collecting and consolidating consignments protects the environment

A few words about shipping: A postal shipment from Switzerland to the EU takes on average three to four working days. Would you like to export to Switzerland? Then you can count on a Next Day Delivery from the moment you enter Switzerland. You can find everything you need to know about shipping abroad on our blog. 

In postal dispatch, large volumes of consignments are collected and processed in a consolidated manner. This avoids unnecessary distances and protects the environment.

Be transparent with the shipping option too: Tell your customers why you offer which shipping option. This creates clarity and trust.

Minimizing returns protects the environment – and your wallet

Today's customers expect a free return option - especially in the fashion sector. Zalando & Co. have been offering this for a long time. Swiss people are used to ordering a selection and returning the rest free of charge. On average, this applies to 60% of the fashion goods ordered.

Unfortunately, unnecessary returns are an environmental sin, especially in international e-commerce.

There are a few tips and tricks to reduce the return rate. For example:

  • With a total landed cost calculator
  • With better product descriptions
  • With the right shipping partner
  • With the correct delivery preferences

Would you like to know more? In our blog "Reduce returns rate" you will find further important input on the topic of return rates.


Pro tip

Sometimes it makes sense to outsource warehousing & fulfilment closer to the target market. This reduces shipping costs and optimises delivery times.

Pro tip

Sometimes it makes sense to outsource warehousing & fulfilment closer to the target market. This reduces shipping costs and optimises delivery times.

Optimise your online shop

Hosting: the biggest source of emissions for your online shop

According to experts, in a few years' time our information technologies could pollute the environment more than air traffic. Hostingtipp.ch describes the power consumption for the web hosting of online stores as the largest source of emissions. We venture a look behind the scenes.

How much CO2 is emitted by your hosting? Is renewable energy perhaps used for this? If so, which? For example, some providers use regional hydroelectric power, others use eco-power from power stations, and still others participate in the construction of a photovoltaic plant.

Take a closer look at your potential web host:

  • Does he specifically name the electricity supplier?
  • Does he use a recommended green electricity provider?
  • Is he also committed to sustainability beyond that?

Your customers want an efficient payment method

We have now looked at production and shipping in terms of sustainability. But you can get even more out of environmental protection. Especially when it comes to payment, you can become more sustainable. Although Swiss shoppers prefer to pay by invoice, you can save on prints if you digitize them.

But: online payment is much more sustainable than payment by invoice. Why is this? Here are the most important points:

  • The processing is super fast. This results in much less processing time on both sides customer and shop. The payment is done right after the check-out and that's it. There is no need to monitor the receipt of the invoice, and reminders are no longer necessary.
  • Online payments are not tied to a specific location. They can be processed from anywhere in the world and are state of the art.

So it's all about making the payment processes in your shop as simple as possible. Because only if your customers use the available options technical possibilities and pay online will this have an impact on the sustainability of your company.

In our blog "Sustainability in e-commerce", we will show you why sustainability is becoming increasingly important for e-commerce customers and how you can make your logistics more sustainable. 

Nudge your customers with a sustainable online shop

This nudging is meant to encourage your customers to behave in a more ecological way with a little psychology. It’s not a witchcraft, but can be achieved, for example, by pre-selecting a sustainable shipping option. 

If you take a closer look at the subject of nudging, you will also meet with criticism. Of course: Nudging, like everything else in the world, can be used for positive or negative things.

However, a study by the Stiftung Risiko Dialog shows that nudging has many positive aspects in terms of sustainability. Of course, this is also because our society reacts very sensitively to environmental issues. In our blog "Sustainable e-commerce" you will find a concrete example of how you can use the nudging effect for sustainability.


Pro tip

Offer your customers a wide range of payment options: various credit cards, Postcard, PayPal, Sofort.com, Twint. Twint is particularly becoming popular in Switzerland!

Pro tip

Offer your customers a wide range of payment options: various credit cards, Postcard, PayPal, Sofort.com, Twint. Twint is particularly becoming popular in Switzerland!

With sustainable packaging to a green online store

Packaging is an essential part of your contribution to the environment. Especially in cross-border e-commerce, too much packaging material is generally used for security reasons. 

In addition, scaling effects are the reason that only a few different package shapes are used and therefore half-empty packages fly around the world. Here lies enormous savings potential! 

For example, you can save a lot of filling material by choosing the ideal packaging size or a robust outer packaging. 

By the way: today there are much more sustainable filling materials than plastic. Here are a few examples: Wood wool, polystyrene chips, corrugated cardboard, crumpled paper are easy to use.

On our blog "Green e-commerce through sustainable packaging" you will find a lot more helpful information on how to make the packaging of your goods more sustainable in a simple way.

Do you already know KickBag? The Swiss Post subsidiary offers sustainable reusable packaging made from recycled plastic. Our experts will be happy to help you with further details on cross-border shipping of reusable packaging.


Pro tip

Use smaller and adapted formats for shipping. This means that you will benefit from lower postage costs due to the lighter weight. It is also much more sustainable to send non-empty parcels through the world.

Pro tip

Use smaller and adapted formats for shipping. This means that you will benefit from lower postage costs due to the lighter weight. It is also much more sustainable to send non-empty parcels through the world.

Short and sweet: the fastest way to an eco-friendly online store

Here again the most important things for you:

  • Transparent communication: Tell your customers what you are doing in terms of sustainability and make them aware of your privacy policy.
  • Embrace new technologies: with the help of new technologies you can better track your value chain.
  • Offer sustainable shipping options.
  • Choose a sustainable webshop partner for your hosting.
  • Provide sustainable payment options at checkout.
  • Use environmentally friendly packaging materials and sizes.
  • Use low-impact materials when designing your products.
  • Minimize your return rate with simple tricks.
  • Use the nudging effect in favour of the environment.

 

Sources

 



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