Tips to Achieve Eco-friendly Shipping for Your E-commerce

June 2021
Eco-friendly shipping around the world
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
Addressing environmental issues within your e-commerce puts your brand in good light. Many e-commerce companies leverage on being eco-friendly and wear it as a badge of honor, whether it is true or not. As consumers increasingly embrace this new eco-trend, small e-commerce businesses also try to satisfy their customers' needs to shop for environmentally friendly products.

Based on the recent insights by IBM, it can be seen that the willingness of consumers to improve their impact on the environment is high. Let's have a look at the numbers:

  • Nearly 6 in 10 consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact

  • Nearly 8 in 10 consumers indicate sustainability is important for them

Based on the numbers, retailers have to start looking at new ways to enhance sustainability within their processes. Here are some tips to make your shipping process more sustainable.

What Is Eco-friendly Shipping?

First of all, let’s get some terms straight. Green shipping and eco-friendly shipping are not precisely the same. Eco-friendly shipping means that the whole shipping process is ecological, starting from packaging to delivery. Green shipping is about the use of ecological vehicles and eco fuel to deliver goods.
Eco-friendly shipping implies that the retailers try to find ways to use sustainable materials, ship in bulk, avoid using extra packaging materials, and use ecological ways of transportation to lower their carbon footprint.

How Can E-commerce Businesses Implement Eco-friendly Shipping?

1. Use Optimal Packaging

One way to enhance eco-friendly shipping as a retailer is to pack orders sustainably. Always, pack orders in an optimal package corresponding to the product's dimensions. Matching product dimensions to those of the package is not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective. Smaller packages usually cost less to ship than bigger packages. There are many companies nowadays offering sustainable packaging for your orders. Some companies offer reusable shipping containers that can be returned after delivery is finalized.

2. Recyclable and Reusable Materials

Recyclable and Reusable Materials
Once the package is optimally packaged, it will require suitable packaging as well. Opt for biodegradable or recyclable packaging to lower the impact on the environment.
What harms the environment is also packaging material. So try not to overstuff your packages with unnecessary filling and packaging materials.

UPS offers sustainable packaging that you can order from their official website. UPS packaging meets Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council certification standards. The carrier also offers recyclable air pillows instead of packaging peanuts and bubble wraps which are more harmful to the environment.

Another carrier to leverage on this trend is FedEx. FedEx prides itself on having envelopes made from an average of 93% recycled content. Also, their packs, white and brown boxes are made from recycled content.

3. Ship Items in Bulk

If your e-commerce sells mostly small products that can be grouped and shipped together, do so. For example, do not sell small products like toothbrushes, cosmetics by piece. Instead, offer to sell these small products in bigger packs and ship them in a bulk. Shipping in bulk is cheaper than shipping small items separately. Having products grouped adds a better value to the customer as well. Customers are forced to plan their shopping or share an order. Additionally, they see that you are environmentally conscious. The result for you is less shipping, lower shipping cost, and potentially higher sales.

4. Partner With Eco-friendly Carrier

Many carriers participate in eco-friendly initiatives or programs. DHL is part of the GoGreen Initiative which has projects worldwide. Its vehicle fleet was upgraded to a more aerodynamic shape to minimize air resistance and lower fuel consumption. Moreover, 86% of their electricity is from renewable energy sources.

Another carrier to optimize its processes is USPS. USPS strives to enhance the sustainabilityof its facilities across the United States. All the new facilities built will be designed and constructed in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way. Likewise, they implemented a new model of cars that use mostly only hydrogen fuel cells.

As a retailer, you can also do your bit to contribute to the environment. Next time you need to use the USPS service, you can do so online. Everything you do at the USPS Post Office you can do online, schedule pick up, buy stamps, move the address, or re-route the package.
You can also join the USPS “Read, Respond and Recycle" program which uses the blue containers to discard read mails for recycling.

Another way carriers support the environment is the use of paperless tracking and invoicing for their services.

Calcurates Related Features

5. Limit Return Shipping Policy

Sounds a bit radical doesn't it? The point of limiting the return shipping policy is to make your customers more shopping conscious. The dark side of return policy is that anything can be returned fast and easily. Customers do not stop to think if they really need the product or not. Online shopping became very impulsive during the corona times.
According to a recent study, around 5B pounds of returned goods end up in US landfills each year. Retailers figured out that repairing and putting back to shelves those faulty products isn't worth it, and it is easier just to dispose of them.
Even though it might seem that a zero return policy will only lower your sales, it isn't the case. OfferingBased a zero return policy might even save you some extra cost and time.

6. Offer In-store Pickup

In-store Pickup
Offer pickup options for your customers instead of home deliveries. Why? 
In-store pickup has many advantages and one of them is that the customer has complete flexibility over his or her time, and location. The customer can select to pick up the package from the nearby post office, local store, or workplace. And yes, this saves the delivery vehicle extra stops and wasted fuel.

Take an example from UPS. UPS My Choice® works together with the UPS Access Point® network, allowing customers to reroute and reschedule their packages to an Access Point® location. All the access points are safe and easily reachable, usually in convenient locations. 

7. Find Eco-friendly Shipping Solution

Another way to achieve eco-friendly shipping is to get shipping software and set as a default all the chores that can be done automatically. Set up shipping options for each product you sell. Customize shipping methods to increase customer experience and satisfaction. You can automate the whole shipping process in the way it suits your e-commerce. Calcurates offers Smart Packaging shipping solutions and In-store Pickup features all in one.
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