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Sustainability and Ecommerce: Why the two are connected now more than ever

The environmental impact of climate change has been well publicised in recent times, with extreme weather events provoking global reactions to the crises. One such reaction has been the trend towards sustainable ecommerce, as consumers begin to see the impact of years of shopping without an environmental conscience, and brands are reacting to this.

Worldwide ecommerce sales are predicted to grow from $5.5 trillion in 2022 to $7.4 trillion by the end of 2025. This has been accelerated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with companies having to diversify their methods, with D2C offerings in the UK alone predicted to be worth £120 billion in 2023. However, as the trend to shopping online continues to grow, so too does the need for companies to focus on sustainable practices.

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in where products are made, the environmental footprint of their manufacture, their choice of sustainable materials, energy use, delivery and packaging waste. This has been driven by GenZs and Millennials in particular.

GenZ consumers are strongly concerned with both transparency and sustainability. As digital natives, they are most likely to initially search for products online, but are savvy to online marketing methods. Brands are no longer able to hide their environmental impact. A survey by Futerra showed that GenZ consumers think only 41% of brands have sufficient information on their products about sustainability, yet 70% said that the environmental impact of the products they buy is what they’re most interested in. 

As GenZs and Millennials increase both their spending power and anxiety around climate change, D2C brands who are unable or unwilling to invest in sustainable ecommerce methods are at risk of alienating a hugely important demographic from their client base.

Implementing sustainable ecommerce

Government legislation surrounding environmental practice is often slow to be debated and implemented, but this doesn’t prevent companies from making positive changes. This is particularly true of smaller brands who are more nimble and able to positively react to consumer considerations. For example, we have worked with disruptive brands such as Wholesupp, Hu Kitchen, Bundlee, and Lovebug who all have sustainable ecommerce at the heart of their messaging, and do so under their own ethical code.

However, there is often a cost to these decisions. By founding a business in sustainable practice, brands are often hit by reduced margins as eco-friendly manufacturing, packaging and delivery costs are typically more expensive than less sustainable alternatives. 

Yet this only further validates the importance of D2C. Brands can promote and sell their own products, without reducing their margins even further by going through larger retailers such as Amazon. This then allows them to maximise their investment back into sustainable future practice and product development.

In addition, the opportunity for transparent sustainable practice is forever increasing as social media platforms are becoming more widely used. This gives brands a great way to publicise their eco-friendly strategies, contributing to industry-wide culture shifts as consumers are drawn towards brands with strong sustainability messaging. As GenZ buying power increases and convenience culture is being replaced by conscious consumerism, brands are at risk of getting cancelled if they’re unable to keep up with this level of transparency.

Overall, as environmental issues are more and more in the minds of consumers, so too is shopping with a sustainable conscience. Along with the rapid growth of ecommerce and D2C shopping methods, brands are also required to develop sustainable manufacturing strategies which align with current consumer desires, in particular with GenZs and Millennials. However, there are opportunities for companies to transform their industries through innovative and transparent sustainable processes, which in the long term could lead to a strong and supportive consumer base.


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