The importance of sustainability in the retail industry is globally rising to be a very vital consideration when creating a business plan. The integration of sustainability efforts is spreading tremendously, and through it, companies are not only gaining customer respect and loyalty but also starting a movement to help the environment. In this post, we are going to discuss the rise and importance of sustainable eCommerce, as well as look into some tips for improving your company’s sustainability from existing successful and sustainable companies.

The Rise of Sustainable eCommerce

Hundreds of eCommerce companies are taking the leap by combining great products, with responsible consumption. The fast-growing trend of sustainability is rising for all types of businesses around the world using strategies such as altering what types of materials are used, reusing materials, or simply just cutting waste out.

Within the retail industry, sustainability efforts are shown everywhere, from sustainable retail store designs to using sustainable practices in retail. Sustainable retail stores are rising exponentially, and the rise brings forward a whole new market to shopping both in-store and online. Customers now are searching for these eco-friendly options regularly, and instantly develop a loyalty to brands who cater to that expectation.

The importance of sustainability in retail

There are four key reasons why businesses should be concerned with sustainability. These are as follows:

1. Environmental impact

The fashion industry is one of the most resource-intensive and polluting industries globally, with a significant impact on the environment. The production, transport, and disposal of clothing can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and other environmental issues.

The most sustainable retailers are helping to lower the industry's impact on the environment by promoting more responsible sourcing, production, and disposal of products.

2. Consumer demand

Consumers are becoming more aware of environmental and social issues and are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of the products they purchase.

Many consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and retailers that prioritise sustainability can attract these consumers and build customer loyalty.

3. Business advantage

Sustainable retail practices can also provide a competitive advantage for retailers. By prioritising sustainability, retailers can differentiate themselves from their competitors and enhance their brand reputation, which can ultimately lead to increased sales and profitability.

4. Future-proofing

The sustainability of the fashion industry is essential for its long-term viability.

Retailers that prioritise sustainability are better positioned to adapt to changing consumer preferences, regulations, and market conditions, and are more likely to succeed in the long term.

Sustainable shopping statistics

Let’s take a look at some key sustainable shopping statistics to further understand the importance of this.

Google recently revealed that 65% of shoppers are actively looking for eco-friendly brands. Moreover, 55% are willing to pay more for a sustainable product.

Furthermore, 75% of sustainable products sell better online than in-store. Growth is better for sustainable items as well, growing 2.7x faster than those not marked as sustainable.

Deloitte recently published a report on the sustainable consumer, revealing that durability is one of the most important things a consumer will consider when purchasing a product and ensuring it’s sustainable. Despite 60% of consumers recognizing that products made from recycled packaging are sustainable and 65% noting biodegradable products are sustainable, consumers value durability (52%) over recyclability (23%).

In terms of barriers, Deloitte revealed that the main reasons why people have not adopted a more sustainable lifestyle over the past 12 months include:

  • It’s too expensive (52%)
  • They’re not interested (51%)
  • They don’t have sufficient information (48%)
  • They don’t think it’ll make a difference (42%)
  • It’s too complicated or difficult (41%)
  • It’s not available (38%)

The Value of Sustainability in Retail Marketing

Incorporating sustainability into your business plan is not only important to consider to improve the environment, but also so valuable for your business personally.

With the current trends of living a healthy, fit, and eco-friendly lifestyle going around, this time, more than ever, sustainability is going to be so beneficial to marketing your products. In fact, according to a brief by RILA, 68 million adults base purchasing decisions on their values and will spend up to 20% more on eco-friendly products. Also, for many, the deciding factor between brands for retail comes down to how the products are made and distributed. Integrating and understanding the value of sustainability in retail marketing can increase your customer interest exponentially.

How to Integrate the Dimensions of Sustainability Within eCommerce

Retail, especially in eCommerce, operates with a lot of materials that are not necessarily needed, and, honestly, might even be more efficient without using them. To steadily integrate eco-friendly efforts into your eCommerce business, you can focus on improving 1-3 changes at a time and slowly move forward to incorporating more. No significant change will happen overnight, but slowly but surely, integrating sustainable efforts will, with time, then bring you to the goal of being 100% sustainable.

sustainable clothes brands, appnova

Top Retailers that Encourage Sustainable Shopping

AYooxgen: Using all organic and zero-waste materials, this global brand offers upscale clothing that is both eco-friendly and incredibly chic.

elborne: This US-based company offers an array of casual and chic fashion, with all their products being cruelty-free and containing no leather or fur.

Reve en Vert: A boutique based out of the UK that sells luxury clothing ranging from activewear to jumpers. This company prides itself on using sustainable materials such as organic cotton, which are recyclable.

Reformation: This US brand offers boho and chic styles by upcycling waste and using deadstock materials to create their pieces. How cool!

Ecoture: This Australian brand brings luxury items from hand-picked designers that deliver both vegan and cruelty-free items.

Antidote: This luxury brand based out of the US offers ethical qualities for its customers, including Fair Trade, recycled, and vegan options.

Amour Vert: Offering classic and stylish items, this company from the US offers a wide variety of items using 100 per cent cotton and all-natural dyes. Along with that, they donate clean water to charity for every sale they make.

Tips for Sustainable eCommerce

Improving your sustainability within your eCommerce site is something to do one step at a time. Incorporating a few of these tips each quarter will dramatically improve your eco-footprint, as well as save you money in the long run. Not only that, but your company will also gain tremendous customer respect and loyalty for your efforts. Here are some tips to improve your eCommerce sustainability.

  • Environmentally efficient packaging (No plastic, go paperless)
  • Green shipping methods (Local pick up)
  • Rewards (reward your customers if they chose to use a green option, such as getting an email receipt instead of a paper one)
  • Use raw materials (Organic cotton, vegan, etc.)
  • Recycle and reuse (Try to repurpose everything you use and recycle what you can’t)

Retail sustainability trends

Finally, there are a number of trends we expect to be embraced by sustainable retailers over the coming months and years, so let’s take a look at them:

  • Circular business models - A lot of sustainable retail stores are adopting circular business models, which aim to reduce waste and create a closed-loop system where products are reused, recycled, or repurposed.
  • Carbon neutrality - As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly urgent, more retailers will strive to become carbon neutral or offset their carbon emissions through various initiatives.
  • Secondhand marketplaces - With the rise of conscious consumerism and the desire to reduce waste, secondhand marketplaces will grow in popularity as an alternative to traditional retail.
  • Digitalisation - The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online shopping, and retailers will continue to invest in digital technologies to reduce their environmental impact and enhance the sustainability of their operations.
  • Transparency - Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impact of the products they purchase, and retailers may respond by providing greater transparency about their sustainability practices, including the sourcing of materials and labour conditions.
  • Sustainable packaging - Retailers may continue to explore sustainable packaging options, such as compostable or biodegradable materials, as well as reducing the overall amount of packaging used.

Takeaway

To review, sustainable retailers are becoming more common each day and bring both respect and loyalty to brands who put forth these efforts. Be sure to check out the top sustainable retailers and use the tips discussed to try some out for your eCommerce business today.

Sustainable Retail:

  • AYooxgen
  • elborne
  • Reve en Vert
  • Reformation
  • Ecoture
  • Antidote
  • Amour Vert

Tips:

  • Environmentally efficient packaging
  • Green shipping methods
  • Rewards
  • Use raw materials
  • Recycle and reuse

Contact Appnova to learn more about how to make your retail business more sustainable.

This blog post is Last updated on May 15th, 2023.

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