Conscious Consumers and the Rise of Sustainability in eCommerce

By Bethany Llewellyn • Last updated: Wednesday Feb 15th, 2023


eCommerce shopping is accessible, convenient and fast – but how are conscious shoppers breaking ground for sustainability?

Conscious consumers are the leading cause for the rise of sustainability within the eCommerce industry.

The number of people engaged in eCommerce has increased rapidly. In today’s society consumers have more environmental awareness than ever before.

Research has found since the pandemic 60% of shoppers asked are turning to eco-friendly and sustainable shopping.

Both social and environmental issues are crucial to business branding – consumers want a sustainable eCommerce experience, so it’s time to follow suit or be left behind.

What is conscious shopping?

Conscious shopping is a social movement where consumers are responsible and sympathetic towards environmental sustainability.

Buying practices are driven by making a positive social, economic and environmental impact, this can also be known as conscious consumerism.

Over 50% of shoppers surveyed admitted they spent more time researching purchases than before the pandemic, so making your eco-friendly USPs visible is vital.

Research shows that nearly half of Gen Z and millennials say that sustainability and ethical trading have become more important.

What is the problem?

The popular phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” will be ingrained in most people’s minds – but where did it originate?

The phrase can be traced back to the 1970’s first Earth Day where the movement of becoming environmentally conscious began.

This campaign kick-started the production of sustainable packing we come across today.
Distribution, packaging, materials and return of online goods are all contributors to carbon emissions.

Consumers wish to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle whilst retaining the convenience and choice offered by online shopping – and they want businesses to help them achieve this.

Sustainability in eCommerce

Many major retail brands are already offering various sustainability initiatives.

The likes of Zara, H&M and Nike offer ‘drop-off’ locations for customers to take items that are no longer wanted in exchange for discount codes or vouchers.

It’s not just the fashion industry that offers this, both Apple and Currys PC world offer similar schemes where you can trade in old phones or laptops – if they’re refurbishable you can offer a gift card to go towards another model.

This is a great way to take action and responsibility whilst leading the customer to a new purchase.

Ways to be greener in eCommerce

Why should eCommerce companies seek to be more sustainable?

Simply, sustainable eCommerce is what consumers want.

From small changes to company-wide movements, here are a few suggestions on how to be more sustainable.

1. Revisit your packaging

Brands can boost customer satisfaction by providing schemes to remove plastics and packaging and give clarity on how to dispose of/recycle old products.

With the rising awareness of plastic waste and government pressure, eCommerce companies such as Amazon, Dell and ASOS lead the way in opting for more eco-friendly packaging.

While sustainable packaging can be more costly, research shows the majority of ethical consumers are willing to pay premium prices for sustainable products.

2. Review your delivery process

Offering ‘slower delivery’ options similar to Amazon allows orders to cluster, resulting in densely packed but fewer vehicles that save on fuel, driver salaries and carbon emissions.

It’s shown that over 70% of consumers would be willing to delay deliveries if given an environmental incentive at checkout.

All being said, brands often overestimate the importance of convenience when it comes to the buying stage in the customer journey.

Consumers don’t want to choose between sustainability and convenience – and they shouldn’t have to.

3. Reassess your wider company values

Eco-friendly, cruelty-free, ethically sourced – more than ever, consumers actively seek to support brands that share the same values as themselves.

As an eCommerce retailer, you can display your eco values and USPs through Overlays.

Overlays are a great tool for any eCommerce website to optimise conversions. They can provide a discount incentive, cross-sell to increase product exposure, or in this case, display your businesses sustainable choices and values.

Even if consumers do not commit to a purchase, you can grow your subscriber list for future communications.

Through this subscriber list, you can incentivise your customers via emails that emphasise your business’s stance on environmental issues.

The future of conscious consumerism in eCommerce

People want to buy things they can feel good about, this means consumers are more likely to complete a purchase that feels guilt-free.

This is why it is important to be transparent and honest with your consumers.

Transparency is key for building customer loyalty. Being explicitly open with how sustainable supply chains truly are and disclosing your brand’s ethical values can increase conversions from conscious shoppers.

This means there will be no sudden surprises for your ethical shoppers, ultimately boosting customer relationships and overall engagement.

To find out how Salesfire can help you optimise your eCommerce site, email one of our experts at [email protected] or book a free demo of our personalisation tools.