Why it pays to be a sustainable brand

Being a sustainable brand is becoming a primary deciding factor when shoppers consider your brand amongst the landscape of other options. 

Fortunately, taking strategic steps to being a more sustainable brand proves fruitful for online brands. Done right, sustainability is in the Earth's best interest as well as your bottom line. 

Consumers care about carbon impact

Consumers want to support more sustainable brands. According to Forbes, 87% of customers would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity and 92% are more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues. 

Sustainable business practices are especially popular among young millennials and Gen Z as those generations are becoming more environmentally conscious of where they invest their money.

In a 2017 survey by Deloitte, 67.1% of millennials surveyed either sometimes or always check a brand's sustainability and ethics practices before deciding to purchase from them. This number is only expected to grow.

Younger consumers want to feel good about the environmental impact of their purchases, and are becoming more educated on environmentally friendly business practices. According to Business Insider, people feel proud knowing that they're offsetting potential environmental impacts while shopping.

This movement toward sustainability comes at a time when, as a nation, we are shopping online more than ever. It is predicted that within the decade, half of all sales will be made online. The percentage will be even higher for the fashion industry. Not surprising, this push to online shopping is being spearheaded by younger generations, who are less likely to shop locally than people over 55. 

Why your brand should care

Being more environmentally friendly makes for a better world! Millennials alone spend almost $600 billion every year. If you want to win this large group of young people as customers, being outwardly eco-friendly plays an important role in attracting this audience. 70% of millennials surveyed say that a company's environmental focus influences their purchasing decisions. In order to capture this audience, a company has to consider these shoppers' values and increased focus on sustainability. 

Historically, more sustainable practices are often more expensive than traditional options—after all it is cheaper to produce a new piece of plastic than to recycle an existing one. Over two-thirds of purpose-driven shoppers will pay an added premium of 35% or more for sustainable purchases, such as recycled or eco-friendly goods. 

There are plenty of cost-effective ways to be more sustainable, especially in the ecommerce sphere. 

Sustainable practices that ecommerce brands can implement to start effecting change: 

1. Reduce packaging and search for more sustainable packaging options.

EcoEnclose is a great resource for finding sustainable packaging. 

2. Create recycling programs for your products.

Thousand Fell is a sustainable shoe brand that will recycle your kicks when it's time for a new pair— at no cost to the customer. They even include $20 in recycling cash that can be applied to a customer's next order. 

3. Add more sustainable products, or adapt current products to be more sustainable.

Furniture brand Simbly works to ensure that 100% of their wood comes from sustainable, FSC Certified forests. 

4. Implement carbon neutral shipping with EcoCart. Mission-driven nonprofit The Little Market offers the option of carbon neutral shipping to all their customers, furthering the positive impact they have on the world. 

EcoCart, which offers a carbon neutral cart plugin for stores on Shopify, BigCommerce, and other major e-commerce platforms, sees an average of 1 in 4 shoppers opting in to make their orders carbon neutral when checking out. 

There are two main ways brands can become more sustainable with EcoCart:

  • Give your customers the option: When a store adds EcoCart to their checkout experience, customers are prompted to make their purchases carbon neutral by simply checking a box and adding a few extra cents to their order total—typically 1-2% of their order total. 
  • Offset on their behalf: Brands can also opt to work with EcoCart to offset the carbon footprint of orders on behalf of their customers, further demonstrating a commitment to sustainability while not asking customers to absorb the cost associated with being more environmentally friendly. 

Made-in-the-USA brand Tribe Kelley saw a 19% lift in cart conversion since adding EcoCart to their store, and 1 in 10 Tribe Kelley customers choose to make their orders carbon neutral at checkout. As well as the increase in conversion rates, they also receive regular comments from customers expressing how much they love the carbon neutral option. 

Implementing sustainability into your brand can be overwhelming and expensive, but the most important step is to start somewhere, and there are simple, straightforward options available for brands at all stages of sustainability. 

However you choose to become a more sustainable brand, it's important to communicate your commitment to the planet with your customers. When brands speak on topics they care about, customers listen—and we can all get behind initiatives that make our shared home healthier! 

EcoCart is an e-commerce plugin that encourages checkout by allowing your customers to shop carbon neutral with you. Sustainability is now a driving factor in consumers' purchasing decisions—that's why the 400+ brands that use EcoCart like APL, BarkBox, and Dose of Colors are seeing a massive boost to customer loyalty as well as up to 22% increase in cart conversion rates. To learn more about EcoCart, check out their blog.

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