The particular challenges of being an ecommerce business don't sound like they'd be compatible with driving positive climate action: complex logistic systems, long shipping routes, high return rates, and often a reliance on plastic packaging. That needn't be the full story. Here's why and how implementing the right combination of emission reduction interventions and offsetting options will become the industry's biggest strength. With the right strategy, online retailers can deliver on climate action while meeting consumer expectations, building customer loyalty.
Economic pressures are mounting and consumers' online shopping priorities are changing rapidly. Convenience is no longer king. Instead of being led by factors like delivery speed and location, consumers want value for money from their products, and plentiful choice and availability has made it easier than ever to select the savviest deal that best matches their preferences. Businesses that can cater to these expectations will be better positioned to succeed in today's market, providing products that speak to this established segment of climate-conscious consumers who are also watching their pockets.
It's even the case that the option to go green matters more than convenience to this consumer segment. According to Metapack's Delivery Conference, price-sensitive shoppers are overwhelmingly in favour of accepting longer delivery times (38%) and switching to 'out of home' collection (34%) over paying extra to offset emissions (where only 7% would consider this). Millennials are the age group most likely to buy sustainable products above other, less sustainable choices, with 27% having made “significant changes" to their purchasing behaviour in order to do better by the climate.
The secondhand market, on which previously owned products are resold, rented or thrifted, is also rapidly gaining momentum. Consumers want economical, sustainable alternatives to buying environmentally costly new products. As their finances become increasingly squeezed, it makes sense for these customers to prioritise resale options that offer a vital and viable alternative to investing in completely new versions of the items they need.
Online retailers need to be sensitive to these preferences. While resale options aren't necessarily a revenue driver, they represent a successful customer acquisition and loyalty strategy for your company, which should sit alongside a holistic sustainability vision.
Despite the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis, sustainability is high up on the agenda of consumer priorities: increasingly, it's what customers have in mind when they're making their purchase decisions.
Yet immediate strategic priorities seem to lie elsewhere for retailers. Although three-quarters of merchants recognise the importance of sustainability and of lowering the environmental impact of their deliveries, less than a fifth (18%) consider it a key strategic focus for their business.
This needs to change. Consumers today are putting 'value' over convenience because of a range of factors: they're more sensitive to price, yes, but they're also more aware of the climate impact of their purchases; they care more about health and wellness, they're more likely to value quality over quantity and they're more alert to increased competition within the market. As a business, it's crucial to match your offering to this consumer profile: online retailers that focus their customer journey around the opportunity to make a tangible climate impact will gain and retain their clients.
Here are some tips to get started today:
Understand how consumer goods companies are taking ambitious climate action.