Team eCommerce Next interviewed Andrew Chan from AfterShip to get more insights on how e-commerce retailers can (and should) up their sustainability game. Following is our interview with him:
Why is sustainability in e-commerce important?
It helps to ensure that businesses operate in an environmentally-friendly way while maintaining long-term profitability and creating opportunities to boost revenue streams. As the world becomes more eco-conscious, shoppers are seeking products and services that leave minimal environmental impact. If businesses cannot meet that demand, they will lose out on potential sales. In fact, our recent sustainability survey found that 75% of shoppers want their favorite brands to invest more in sustainability; six in 10 indicated that they purchased from a brand in the last six months because of their sustainability initiatives.
How can e-commerce retailers develop a plan to reach net zero carbon emissions or carbon neutrality?
They can invest in renewable energy; design efficient shipping and delivery operations; and offset emissions. Tools like carbon emissions reports and carbon calculators can help retailers track and manage progress. They can also partner with logistics providers with existing sustainability initiatives or invest in green shipping options, including:
– recycled materials
– biodegradable packing peanuts
– recyclable boxes
– electric vehicles
– ships powered by renewable energy
They might also consider investing in carbon offsets – projects that help to reduce emissions elsewhere to cancel out emissions produced by the retailer.
What are some best practices for becoming a sustainability leader?
-Leaders looking to champion sustainability initiatives within their organization must have front-to-back insight into associated opportunities and risks. This helps to gain buy-in from other members of the organization.
-A strong network of “ambassadors” is essential for valuable insight, advice and support when navigating challenges of implementing new initiatives.
-Leaders must be able to incite passion in order to build support, and they should be able to communicate effectively and articulate the vision for change and benefits of taking action.
-Each member of the organization needs to see their senior staff embody causes they say they care about. Leading by example means living and breathing the values of sustainability in their personal and professional lives.
-Leaders can create a culture of sustainability by embedding sustainable practices into the fabric of the organization and ensuring those practices are met at all levels.
How can e-commerce leaders implement change based on best practices?
Practically speaking, they can communicate the need for change by creating a plan that outlines the steps necessary to effect change; and executing that plan. They should also monitor progress and make adjustments along the way. Leaders must also be prepared to deal with the often inevitable resistance to change.
What are some of the ways e-commerce retailers can measure their carbon footprint?
There are several:
-Conduct a comprehensive inventory of direct and indirect emissions sources: power consumption, transportation and waste and packaging. Data on upstream supplier emissions can offer a more complete picture. For example, a furniture retailer should track emissions from growing, harvesting and manufacturing the wood; and from shipping/transportation to their store or warehouse.
-Calculate the emissions intensity of each product/service by measuring emissions associated with each lifecycle stage, from production to consumption.
-Establish a baseline year as a point of comparison for emissions reduction targets.
-Track emissions over time to gauge whether or not reduction efforts are having the desired effect.
-Seek expert advice can be invaluable in understanding best practices to measure and reduce carbon emissions. Identify experts who have had success doing this in other sectors. Work closely with regulated industries to understand how they measure and report their emissions.
How can AfterShip’s Carbon Report help e-commerce retailers reduce their carbon footprint?
AfterShip’s Carbon Report provides data on shipping operations’ emissions over time, broken down by distance traveled, parcel weight and shipment method, allowing them to identify areas where they can improve efficiencies and reduce environmental impact. AfterShip’s carbon offsetting service can help retailers offset emissions from their shipping operations, helping them reduce their overall carbon footprint and support sustainability initiatives.
How can e-commerce retailers consistently communicate their sustainability accomplishments and goals with audiences?
One way is to include information on their website, either on a dedicated sustainability page or by ensuring that the information is included in relevant sections. Social media is a great tool for sharing blog posts, infographics or videos and can serve as a platform to address the importance of sustainability. Print advertising, public relations and events are also effective communication tools.
About Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan is the Co-Founder and CPO at AfterShip. Andrew has over 10 years of SaaS product development experience. He manages product managers, sales, and marketing teams at AfterShip. Before starting AfterShip, he worked for Accenture as a business analyst.
Founded in 2012, AfterShip is a post-purchase platform that helps companies improve the consumer experience, increase revenue, and build brand loyalty. With more than 10,000 customers, AfterShip is used by leading marketplaces such as eBay, Wish, and Etsy, as well as iconic brands such as Gymshark, Kylie Cosmetics, Murad, and Kate Sommervile. AfterShip offers branded shipment tracking, notifications, returns, and exchanges, leading to increased sales and fewer WISMO tickets. Integrating with more than 930 carriers worldwide, AfterShip is the solution of choice for multinational organizations or those looking to grow internationally.