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5 tips for becoming a sustainable ecommerce business

July 19, 2022

In recent years, many businesses have been confronted with the challenge of overcoming their ‘less-than-eco-friendly’ ways. While the obvious, and perhaps easiest changes begin with switching up product packaging and shipping partners, the changes that deliver the highest impact may come down to the nitty-gritty of your business strategies, marketing efforts and software partners.

What is green ecommerce? 

Whilst it may be tempting to dismiss green ecommerce as a passing trend, the very real impacts of carbon emissions and increasing landfill waste has shone a spotlight on the effects our online shopping habits have on the planet. Green ecommerce places its focus on three key areas: minimising returns, minimising waste, and offsetting (or even eliminating) carbon emissions.

How can ecommerce businesses be more sustainable?

Make your content count 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – content is king. Utilising your blog and social media channels to talk about the actions your business is taking to go greener not only holds you accountable, but provides a platform to educate and encourage your customers to do the same. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘greenwashing’ either – be transparent about the areas in which your business falls short and explain what you’re doing to correct this – you’ll probably find that your customers will respect you for it. 

Invest in user experience

You may think that your website exists purely in the digital world and therefore poses no threat to the environment, and you’d technically be correct. However, user experience can play a huge role in your business’s return rate. Whilst returns are inevitable when selling physical products, there are measures we can take to keep the number of them down, thus increasing carbon emissions and potentially waste. 


The more information a customer has on a product, the more equipped they are to make better purchasing decisions, meaning far less items being returned or thrown away. Many brands are using AR to allow consumers to virtually “try on” products, or place them within their home to see how they look. According to Google, 90% of Americans currently use, or would consider using, AR for shopping, and they’re even planning to incorporate it into search results in the future. 

Be selective

Being more eco-conscious often means being far more selective about who you work with, across many aspects of running your business. Whilst it can be tempting, especially in the fashion and beauty industries to ship a load of free product off to influencers with huge social media followings, be careful not to fall into this trap. The unfortunate truth is that many of these items will go unused and contribute to waste. Instead, look to partner with other eco-conscious brands and the people who will promote your products in the most authentic way.

Choose the right platforms 

When choosing an ecommerce platform to house your website, sustainability may not have even crossed your mind. But choosing the right ecommerce platform, whether you’re just starting out or looking to switch, can make your life a lot easier when it comes to going greener. 


Shopify is known for being the most user-friendly platform for ecommerce websites thanks to over 1000 apps. Many of these apps can help you to become more sustainable, and can be installed in just a few clicks. Take Planet, for example, this app offers carbon-neutral shipping by automatically calculating the total shipping emissions generated by your orders each month. It will then charge you 3.5 and 15 cents (USD) per order, depending on which subscription plan you opt for, which goes towards carbon removal. 

Think digital first 

Whilst having a glossy brochure to post out to customers may seem like a nice personal touch, it probably isn’t necessary. Housing your ‘physical’ marketing materials online saves on paper and ultimately waste, and can be just as aesthetically pleasing. If you order clothes online from any of the major fashion retailers, you’ve likely noticed that fewer brands are including returns labels inside packages, instead requiring customers to log into their accounts and open a return online, cutting paper out of the returns process. 


If you’re feeling inspired by any of the above points or simply need a hand steering your ecommerce strategy in a greener direction, send us a message and we’ll be in touch to tell you more about how we can make your business greener together. 

Written by Andy

Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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