eCommerce's sustainability problem

eCommerce’s sustainability problem

Online businesses started in earnest when Amazon introduced the first eCommerce platform in the early 1990s. Since then, eCommerce has become ubiquitous. It is also becoming synonymous with hawking landfill-bound goods that consumers don’t really need.

If you are starting out in your eCommerce journey, you should understand how important sustainability is in the industry.

Sustainability in this context means providing products without exhausting natural resources and support for the long term without causing ecological problems. 

One way to be more sustainable is to offer hot-ticket eco-friendly items. Consumers are becoming conscious of the materials they wear, eat and use. Eco-friendly items contribute to a reduction of their carbon footprints. 

Examples of green products include sustainable fashion items (designer clothes and accessories made with recycled materials) and upcycled Items (one of the most sustainable ways to produce a product; rather than leaving old items to go to the landfill or go through the costly processes of a recycling plant, upcycling gives them a new lease of life. Time for an audit of the inventory?

Though eco-friendly products cost more than 50% more than mainstream ones (due to manufacturing costs) the availability of materials means that the former will be cheaper than the latter in the long run. As these materials are naturally-occurring or derived from waste, procurement is also nearly effortless and will not cost as much as that of finite natural resources.  

When sending out your goods, consider environmentally friendly or biodegradable packaging.

Even if your business doesn’t go down the sustainable-product route, just by virtue of being an eCommerce player is gentler on the planet. Inventories and sales records tend to be stored in databases, removing the necessity for large volumes of paperwork. Less paperwork means less paper waste, which ultimately minimises deforestation due to paper demand and reduces the business’ carbon output from paper waste disposal. 

eCommerce businesses also typically do not operate physical stores. As such, they do not run equipment that consumes a significant amount of power. These businesses are usually run in a single computer or a small office, so they are 17% more efficient than brick-and-mortar stores. 

However experts expect that the boom of eCommerce will increase the world’s waste output and the shipping industry’s carbon footprint. As such, online businesses must move along a more sustainable path. 

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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