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Why Sustainability is a Must for Ecommerce Packaging

As new and greener ecommerce packaging products are made available, there’s never been a better time to reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s why.

The recent demand for sustainable and ethical products has inspired many retailers to change their packaging. Though initial investment is costly, the payoff is far greater in terms of customer loyalty and brand sentiment.

It’s no secret that ecommerce is a less sustainable industry than brick-and-mortar retail. There is significantly more transportation involved, and e-tailers must protect their products from potential damages between order placement and shipment arrival.

It appears that decreased sustainability is the price to pay for convenience. but we’ll let you in on a little secret: you can change your ecommerce packaging strategy and make it sustainable with just a few simple swaps.

You’ll even be on trend. A Smithers Pira report, The Future of Sustainable E-commerce Packaging to 2023, charts how demand for sustainable materials worldwide will almost double in five years to reach $63.3 billion.

Read on to find more ecommerce packaging tips that can help you reduce your carbon footprint and become more econ-conscious.

Ecommerce Sustainability

The recent demand for sustainable/ethical products has marked a shift in ecommerce offerings, and it has inspired many retailers to change their packaging. Consider this statistic: 95% of consumers believe packaging significantly influences their online purchase experience.

When you’re selling online, your packaging is the first experience a customer has with your brand. All too often, ecommerce purchases come with multiple boxes, plastics, Styrofoam and other materials that will leave a bad taste in the environmentally-conscious consumer’s mouth.

Custom eco-friendly packaging packs a double-punch by giving your customer a memorable experience while also letting them know you care about Mother Nature. Though initial investment can be costly, the payoff is far greater in terms of customer loyalty and brand sentiment.

Social Consciousness

2018 was the year of brands taking hard stances on social issues, from Nike’s partnership with Colin Kaepernick to the embarrassing Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner. Both campaigns generated significant buzz online (albeit for different reasons) and opened the door for other companies to incorporate social issues into their marketing strategies.

In fact, 87% of retailers say taking a stand on social issues is worth the risk, and 83% say failing to take a stand can impact their bottom line. This means it’s prime time to take a stance on something like sustainability, which will win over prospective customers who are looking to shop with eco-conscious brands.

Sustainability is the number one driver of consumer behavior, according to a famous Nielsen report. Researchers polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries around the world to determine how people felt about brands and how those feelings impact buying behavior, and the overwhelming response was that consumers, especially millennials, will pay more for sustainability. While 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, that number jumps to 73% for millennials.

Interestingly enough, nearly half (49%) of those consumers are likely to share their purchases on social media, which can further generate chatter about your online store’s sustainable packaging and practices.

Unboxing & Social Media

In a recent Shorr study, they found that premium shoppers (those who spend at least $200 per month or more) place an added value on custom packaging design. Furthermore, the study also found that a mere 11% of customers are satisfied with the packaging that they get today. As you can see, there’s a massive gap in the market where online retailers can seize the opportunity for branding and shareability to social media, which offer ROI in the form of user-generated content and much more.

Packaging is part of the reason subscription boxes have proven to be so successful. The attractive packaging adds appeal to their contents, and consumers (24.1 million of them) look forward to the unboxing experience every time they receive a shipment.

Ecommerce packaging can also drive improved loyalty and retention which can increase the average order value substantially. Concurrent studies have found that a returning customers spends 67% more on their second visit – helping drive home the notion that you want to win customers over from the get-go with a well-designed package that exudes the wow factor.

Now that you have these ecommerce packaging statistics, think of the further boost you’ll see with eco-friendly packaging. An ecommerce purchase that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also is sensitive to the earth is simply irresistible to the modern consumer.

Sustainable Packaging is Feasible

A few ecommerce businesses are already leading the charge in their packaging sustainability efforts. Curated theme box brand Man Crates, for example, delivers their crates sealed but otherwise bare. And cult beauty brand Lush has committed to using 100% recycled or recyclable materials to ship their online orders.

It’s probable that neither bare nor fully-sustainable shipments can be a reality for every online retailer, but every ecommerce business can take small steps toward a larger industry change. Pack-Spec and Green Apple are companies that we’ve mentioned in a related guide that provide eco-conscious branded packaging to give your online orders that extra pizzazz.

And Smithers Pira also recommended sustainable packaging tips for ecommerce sellers:

  • Die-cut inserts, which hold products in place without plastic air pouches.
  • Paper-based protection, which is recyclable.
  • Mono-material packages, which make recycling easier.

The growing market of plastic alternatives is also driving the price of sustainable materials down. This means that there are cost effective, environmentally-friendly options that are also appealing to your customers.

Other Sustainable Practices

Online sellers looking to incorporate other sustainable practices have a multitude of options. Apparel e-tailers can offer discounts for customers who donate unwanted clothes, which was made popular by H&M’s in-store program. Lush, in further efforts to reduce its environmental impact, offers discounted product refills for customers who bring in the original containers.

Ecommerce sellers can also emulate Amazon’s minimal packaging program, where shoppers can request size-appropriate, plastic-free shipments. Allowing your customers to add comments to their orders is a simple addition to your checkout process that can help you collect feedback and suggestions along the way.

The growing green movement worldwide is a good thing. It’s also helping us better understand that one of the best ways to win over more customers and set your brand aside in the modern era is to be eco-friendly about the packaging that you are using.

There are a number of companies that offer affordable, custom-branded and eco-friendly packaging, like Pack-Spec. It’s a wonderful way to reduce your carbon footprint while being able to let your customers know that you are conscious of your impact on Mother Nature. It’s also a strong selling point for your brand, too.

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