Shopify Ecosystem

Best Tools For Sustainability And Reducing Carbon Footprint

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Looking to improve your store’s sustainability and reduce its’ carbon footprint? Read here!

Krissie Claire

Sep 27

10

 mins

From the very best products, through to advanced personalization – as Ecommerce retailers, it can feel as though we’re constantly chasing our tails when it comes to meeting our customers’ expectations. Increasingly, there’s one demand that we simply cannot afford to ignore – the rising tide of conscious consumerism. Meeting these expectations is about more than customer experience – our planet’s very future is at stake.

Global research recently conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by WWF, showed a huge 71% rise in the popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years – and this growth accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At MindfulCommerce, we’ve written at length about creating a carbon neutral Shopify business and reducing your store’s footprint forms a core pillar in our Sustainability Framework. In this article we’ll walk you through some of the best Ecommerce tools that you can start leveraging right away to start reducing your impact.

What is Sustainability in Ecommerce and Why Should You Care About it?

Product manufacture, marketing, warehousing, online order placement, fulfillment… A successful Ecommerce order is broken down into many stages, most of which aren’t particularly visible to others working within the chain.

Because of this, it can sometimes be hard to stay mindful of the impact each step has environmentally. Although items arrive “as if by magic” on a doorstep, every single action that’s brought them there has taken a lesser or greater toll on the planet. Your customers are waking up to this fact.

As online retailers, it’s in our best interests to optimize each stage of our operational process to try to facilitate greener outcomes. Not only is it the right thing to do in terms of our moral responsibility, it also helps us differentiate our position as a sustainable retailer, and can bring cost-saving efficiencies to our processes.

Greener Ecommerce operations are important for people, planet and profit. From reducing the carbon footprint of your physical and digital operations, through minimizing the wasteful impact of returns and addressing the promotion of overconsumption, there’s a lot that we can do to help improve the status quo as online retailers.

What’s the best way of going about achieving better sustainability for your store? Thankfully, the ecosystem of third party solutions are getting wiser to the need for additional eco credentials, and big improvements are being made. Let’s explore…

What to Look For in a Tool to Make Sure They Are Doing Their Best to Promote Sustainability

When selecting an Ecommerce tool or service, you can base your selection on those which show the greenest and most sustainable attitudes. Are they reducing and/or offsetting their impact as a business? Do they strive to support (or make discounts for) sustainable merchants? How transparent are they about their operational footprint? Are they producing annual sustainability reports?

As retailers, we all understand the concept of supply and demand. By showing Ecommerce tools that sustainability is a valued and desirable trait, we have the power to get solutions raising their game across the board.

What Types of Tools Might Cost a Lot of Carbon?

Before we dive into The Best Sustainability Tools for Ecommerce, let’s briefly touch on the types of tools that you might want to consider avoiding. In terms of the carbon cost of specific Ecommerce solutions, the main impact you’re going to see will be digital carbon footprint.

What do we mean by this? Data requires data centers. Data centers are hot, energy-hungry emission hubs. The more data your store requires to function, render and fulfill its functionality, the higher your digital carbon footprint. Learn much more about this issue in our recorded Mastermind session, available here.

Bare this in mind when adding to the complexity and weight of your store with additional solutions. What value are they bringing, and does this counter the potential impact upon performance and guaranteed increase in your store’s carbon footprint?

The Best Sustainability Tools for Ecommerce

When we think of Ecommerce apps and experts who can help us run a greener retail operation, our minds might instantly go to overtly “eco” solutions (tree planting, carbon offsetting etc.) However, it’s important to remember that there are many solutions whose primary functionality might lie elsewhere, but which can still help you to improve your operational footprint. 

In this short round up of some of our favorite tools, we’ve included two more traditional “eco” apps, one marketing solution and one solution which you might not at first have placed within the sustainability category. Hopefully it gets you thinking about the different ways in which you could be leveraging existing tools for better environmental outcomes and efficiencies!

Our Shortlist of Sustainability tools for Ecommerce:

GreenStory

While many brands get accusations of “greenwashing” thrown at them, many more are quietly working away to make improvements without shouting about it. As consumers are increasingly led by their values, these brands – who are doing good, but not communicating it clearly – are missing out on being rewarded for doing the right thing. 

GreenStory helps brands to get the recognition they deserve, by giving them a clear way to tell the story of their positive impact across their stores. A visually appealing combination of supply-chain sustainability analysis and informative graphics help bring much needed transparency to the online stores of brands who are going above and beyond to make a difference. 

Features

  • Display impact metrics such as energy or emissions saved
  • Product carbon calculation and offsetting
  • Better carbon labeling

Pricing

Schedule a demo with the GreenStory team to learn more. 

Recurate

The market for resale of goods is booming – preloved is no longer seen as second best, and the wide variety of reselling apps springing up, especially in the apparel sector, is testament to this. Brands can get in on the action by working with Recurate to integrate a white-labeled marketplace into their own web stores.

This enables customers to sell their second hand, branded items on a platform that is perfectly targeted and dependable, at the same time as giving brands the benefit of reclaiming a percentage of the resale prices that they would usually be missing out on. It’s a great (and profitable) way of showing support for more sustainable circular economy retail models.

Features

  • Easily integrated resale marketplace
  • Protect your brand and your customers with policies and dispute handling.
  • Fully customizable to create a marketplace that fulfills the needs of your brand and store.

Pricing

Contact the Recurate team to learn more. 

GoodCarts

If you’re looking for a free source of new traffic, coming from well-targeted audiences, GoodCarts might be an option worth exploring. The basic concept revolves around values-driven or sustainable brands being able to share post-purchase discount codes with the customers of similarly-positioned brands. 

The result: free promotion with a mutually beneficial and reciprocal model. If you’re happy to collaborate with brands that are closely aligned but not in direct competition, GoodCarts represents a great way to help get the word out to new customers. 

Features

  • Seamlessly share digital coupons with shoppers post-purchase
  • Discount codes protected from public distribution
  • Launch in minutes and easily customize to match branding

Pricing

The tool is free to use for all merchants and completely free for cause-oriented brands. They do take a small commission of sales for non-cause oriented brands, specifically for any sales they drive to your store – tracked through their platform and the unique discount/offer you generated to receive that traffic.

Okendo

While not overtly positioned as a sustainability tool, Okendo still gets a very honorable mention. By harnessing the power of reviews to enable more informed purchase decisions, they have the potential to drastically lower the number of returns your business generates, bringing down waste, last mile emissions and carbon footprint.

Their unique Attributes feature really helps in this capacity, as it enables merchants to request zero-party data such as skin type, height, pet’s age etc. This can aid other curious shoppers in finding reviews from customers whose circumstances closely match their own, leading to more successful purchases.

Okendo also leverages some powerful marketing integrations, which means that segmentation based on these personal Attributes can also be applied to great effect. This leads to more impactful (read: efficient) marketing campaigns, and better 

Features

  • Easily integrated resale marketplace
  • Protect your brand and your customers with policies and dispute handling.
  • Fully customizable to create a marketplace that fulfills the needs of your brand and store.

Pricing

Okendo starts at $99/month and goes up depending on your monthly orders and certain features. 

Next Steps for Improving Your Ecommerce Store’s Sustainability

If sustainability within Ecommerce feels like a luxury or marketing spin today – you’ll be changing your opinion sooner than you know. The pandemic accelerated consumer interest in buying from ethical, values-driven brands, and as our planet slides ever closer towards climate emergency, we can expect to see a great deal more focus on the rise and importance of conscious consumerism.



What practical steps can you take today towards a greener online retail business? Here are a few to get your started. 

  1. Get a handle on your starting point: what’s your current level of impact? We recommend working with a third party such as C Free to see where you currently stand with regard to the impact of your operation.  You need to know where you’re starting from, and getting a clear and unbiased assessment here is the first step towards making some positive changes.

  1. Audit your current solutions. How’s your tech stack, stacking up? Go through it with a fine toothed comb, highlighting apps that might be adding to your data drain unnecessarily, or which you’re potentially under-utilizing when it comes to the environmental benefits they could be bringing to your business.

  1. Get connected and inspired to others on a similar mission. You don’t have to walk the pathway to sustainable Ecommerce alone. MindfulCommerce offers access to a free community of like minded brands, apps and experts who are all singing from the same hymn sheet and happy to put competition aside for the good of the planet. 

  1. Get accountable to yourself. Set some measurable goals and commit to some changes. You don’t have to do everything at once – small steps add up to big progress. If you’re looking for some guidance and inspiration, you can check out the MindfulCommerce Sustainability Framework, which breaks the main steps towards a more eco-friendly world of Ecommerce into manageable, individual tasks.

  1. Be transparent. It might take some time to put bigger, more systemic changes into place with regard to the improvements you want to make – but your audience cares about this effort today. So tell them. Be open and transparent about your intentions, your struggles and your progress – take your customers along for the ride and witness their approval. Progress over perfection is all anyone will ask of you.

If you’re serious about getting ahead of the curve when it comes to conscious consumerism – a trend which looks certain to continue its accelerations – then we hope our free Directory, Education Hub and Community will provide you with all the support and inspiration you need to get started on the road to a more ethical, environmentally sound Ecommerce business.

Special thanks to our friends at Ecommerce Tech for their insights on this topic.
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