Ecommerce currently finds itself at something of a crossroads. A more ecologically aware society wants to make positive changes through informed, tactical purchase decisions. As a result, it’s vitally important to place your business at the forefront of this swing towards sustainable practices.
As a platform, Shopify is leading the charge when it comes to sustainability within its ecosystem of merchants and technical partners. From its annual $5 million sustainability fund to running an entirely carbon-neutral business operation, they’re walking the walk, and then some.
How can Shopify merchants and apps work with existing solutions and integrations to ensure that they’re minimising the impact they have on our environment and climate? This short article will give you a full briefing, as well as guidance on how to begin in your own quest towards carbon neutrality if you have an ecommerce brand — or your clients do.
Why should the ecommerce industry care?
In short, because ecommerce businesses are having an inevitable impact — we’re facing a climate emergency and we all know it’s the right thing to do. At this point, there’s no way that those working within the retail sector can have missed the memo. We need to start upping our game and taking tangible steps towards improvements as individuals, businesses and wider society.
Beyond the fact that change is necessary and increasingly urgent, things could start to get expensive if you continue to ignore the impact that your operation has. Carbon taxes are coming (if they haven’t already come to your jurisdiction!) and will need to be a future consideration, especially to cross-border sellers.
The rise of conscious consumerism cannot be ignored: this isn’t a trend that’s going away. Demonstrating your brand’s commitment to true sustainability can have a real impact on loyalty, retention and AOV (repeat customers buy more!). As eco practices move to the forefront of shoppers’ consciousness, they’ll become an integral part of how to market your Shopify store in the future.
If you’re still not convinced, perhaps we can peer pressure you into some eco-compliance! It’s increasingly the new norm in our industry, with the giants of ecommerce taking action. In February, Amazon announced a goal to go completely emissions-free on 50% of all shipments by 2030 (although they still evidently need to make some significant improvements).
Etsy declared that it would offset 100% of its carbon emissions generated by shipping, stating that 98% of its total emissions stem from items shipped from sellers to buyers. ASOS recently signed a new contract with DPD which requires 50% of deliveries within the London Ultra Low Emission Zone to be served by electric delivery vehicles only.
How Shopify is centeringthe platform around sustainability
Shopify has repeatedly demonstrated that the carbon crisis is a top priority for it as a company. From significant investment, decommissioned data centres being replaced by Google Cloud, the offsetting of all operational and travel emissions, and a CEO who got one over on “Treelon Musk” when it comes to reforestation, they’re proactive and passionate.
Beyond these top-level demonstrations of commitment to a greener future, Shopify is also developing integrations that can make a real difference to merchants in their own personal journeys towards carbon neutrality.
Offsetting isn't the answer but it's a start
The easiest and quickest thing you can do, is to offset your negative impact on the planet and you can do this with Shopify apps.
Here's some apps to get you started but please remember to measure your impact, reduce, reuse and then offset.
Shop actually grew from Arrive (which in itself helped to cut carbon emissions by reducing the number of missed parcels and repeated delivery attempts). You
In January 2020, a World Economic Forum report forecast that emissions from last-mile deliveries will rise by more than 30% in 10 years — up to 25 million tonnes per year. So, missed deliveries matter! Beyond that, Shop champions local businesses, and facilitates curbside collection, greatly reducing the impact of “last mile” delivery.
Beyond this, when paying for online orders via Shop Pay, customers are guaranteed that Shopify will calculate and offset the carbon emissions that the subsequent delivery will generate.
For those merchants looking to take a really hands-on approach to their emissions, Offset provides insight (via an intuitive dashboard) and a clear monthly calculation of the offsetting needed to neutralize the impact of the carbon released by your operation.
Each month, Offset calculates your monthly offsetting cost and adds it to your Shopify bill. You can opt out at any time, but the price is kept low — typically $0.005 to $0.10 per order.
Not all carbon offsetting is created equal, but working with Pachama means that Shopify can drive offsetting prices down by working at a much more effective, cumulative scale.
A nice feature of Offset is the clear offsetting stats brands can access: the total amount of shipping emissions offset, as well as the environmental impact benefits that have been brought about (for example, how many trees you've paid to protect). By making this information publicly available, merchants can leverage this data as an integral part of their brand story and ongoing marketing strategy.
How can the Shopify app ecosystem get onboard?
There are a number of ways in which apps within the Shopify space can work towards bettering offsetting practices within the community.
1. Communicate the opportunity to your customers. Promote the use of Shopify’s in-house offsetting solutions when working directly with merchants, and help to amplify the potential that these measures have.
2. Consider your own collaborative partnerships with carbon offsetting apps. Many of these exist beyond Shopify’s in-house offering (and could be an interesting consideration for collaborative content marketing).
3. Look to achieve and promote your own carbon neutral (or even carbon negative) status. Sign up to become involved with organisations such as Pachama and support the work that they do.
To conclude... It doesn’t sit right to frame carbon neutrality as a business opportunity — it's a very real necessity for the future of our planet.
But, it’s a necessary step that comes with rewards beyond the knowledge that you’re part of the solution. Brands and apps that lead the charge stand to gain the most.
At Kollectify we’re deeply invested in promoting eco-friendly ecommerce as best practice with our partnership with MindfulCommerce. But don’t just take our word for it. The mothership itself is broadcasting loud and clear when it comes to the huge potential of sustainable ecommerce. We’ll wrap up with a few words from Shopify’s recently appointed Director of Sustainability, Stacy Kauk:
“There is so much room for differentiation here, even if you're new to the sustainability world. There’s a lot of attention in this field, and not a lot of action yet. That’s why there is a massive amount of opportunity here.”