(This is a guest post from our friends over at Arka, provider of custom and sustainable packaging supplies.)
You can attest to the fact that e-commerce and online shopping has become the norm in recent days. With about 600 million orders being mailed each day into the U.S alone.
Without much ado, anyone can make a purchase online and have it shipped right to the comfort of their home without having to move an inch. Unfortunately, as with most recent improvements, this upsurge has also taken its toll on the environment.
While environmental consequences are almost inevitable, e-commerce businesses can take steps into ensuring that they fulfill their customers’ orders while ensuring that their processes are also environmentally friendly—for Arka, sustainable packaging and shipping is the hallmark of their operations.
With more people becoming conscious of the environmental impact of our daily activities, businesses need to find a way to fulfill their social responsibility by adopting sustainable practices in their operations.
6 Ways to Make Your Shipping More Environmentally-Friendly
We’ve listed below, six environmentally business-friendly practices that online businesses can employ in packaging, shipping, and fulfilling their orders:
1. Go For Smaller Boxes
There’s no reason why smaller items should be shipped in larger boxes. As much as possible, pack tightly as well. This will ensure that you aren’t just shipping air. It will also ensure that more items can fit and be transported at once.
Asides the fact that it makes no sense to have empty spaces in your shipping box, large boxes take the extra space that could have been utilized in delivery vehicles, thereby wasting fuel.
Also, small boxes generally cost less. And so, going for a larger box when it’s not needed is a way to unnecessarily spike up cost.
Arka, a leading packaging expert in the industry, advises business owners to reduce their packaging size in order to minimize cost and environmental waste. They also help e-commerce businesses achieve this by offering them packaging services.
2. Ship by Sea
Freight shipping leads to the emission of greenhouse gases. While that is the case most times, irrespective of whether you ship by air or sea, it’s also true that shipping by sea can cut down on cost. Not only that, but it’s also generally better for the environment.
3. Offer Carbon-Neutral Shipping By Offsetting Emission
By buying carbon offsets, you get to remedy your involvement in carbon emission by investing in clean technology and renewable energy.
While it’s not entirely possible to wipe out carbon emission as a result of business operations, it’s worth making an effort to either offset or reduce to the barest minimum
Offsetting emissions that comes from fulfilling orders does not entirely cancel out the harmful effects on the environment. Still, it at least tries to remedy the consequences which inevitably saves the environment a great deal.
4. Fixing Your Returns Process
Many times, businesses only plan for only forward shipment and do not put any plans in place for reverse shipment. This consideration is even more important when online businesses are involved.
This is because, with about 20% of goods being returned, e-commerce businesses experience a higher return rate than their brick-and-mortar stores counterpart, which have only an 8-10% rate of return.
Setting up a system for the returns process otherwise known as reverse logistics or will save you the stress in administering changes in case there’s a return, repair, recall, or a need for refurbishment.
Failure to provide an easy and effortless returns process can be damaging to your business and brand. On the other hand, a lenient and smooth return policy can help boost sales, retain customers, and reduce unforeseen costs.
5. Using Bio-degradable Paper and Materials for Packaging
Another environmentally-friendly practice businesses can adopt in achieving sustainable shipping is opting for more bio-degradable materials. Meaning such materials should be able to decompose easily, be reusable, or at least easily recyclable.
For example, most e-commerce businesses wrap glass orders in plastic to prevent it from breaking. You’ll even find many environmentally-friendly products coming affixed in plastic. And plastic, as we know, causes environmental pollution as it does not decompose.
A more sustainable approach to this might be to wrap it in Aluminium instead, which is 100% recyclable and involves no plastic at all.
6. Ship Items in Bulk and In a Single Box
It’s advisable to opt for bulk shipment rather than smaller ones. This is a more sustainable approach to cut down on environmental waste.
Also, as much as possible, consolidate all your orders into a single box. Doing this will help to save costs and reduce greenhouse emissions caused by multiple trips. One way to achieve this is by storing your goods/items in the same warehouse.
This way, when the fulfillment company comes, it can pack all your items and deposit them in a single box. The result will be less waste of money for supplies and postage.
By working with wholesalers, you can get to reduce individual and smaller shipments, thereby leading to less carbon footprint, greater ability to meet the demands of customers geographically, and even less possibility of return shipping.
Most businesses think the trade-off is between sustainable business practices and profit. But that isn’t always the case. There are simple actions that do not cost a thing but saves the environment a great deal.
Choosing to adopt environmentally-friendly shipping processes as an e-commerce business not only saves cost, it also positively affects your business image while helping to create a better, healthier, and greener earth.