“Common sense and the bottom line are driving sustainability even faster than environmental awareness” – Terry Tamminem, CEO of AtlaSea.
In his presentation at Alibaba.com’s Co-Create 2023 on “Sustainability as a catalyst for competitive growth”, Terry Tamminem, CEO of AltaSea, discussed how sustainability in recent years has shifted away from tree-hugging and more towards smart business practices.
Sustainability not only benefits the environment but also resonates with modern consumers who prioritize ethical and eco-friendly products. In fact, some research suggests as many as two in three consumers are willing to spend more for a product from sustainable brands. Companies of all sizes are making sustainable efforts to capitalize on this.
Even tech giants like Apple are releasing carbon-neutral products and promising a complete carbon-neutral product catalog by 2030.
But making your business sustainable can be challenging, especially if you already have tried-and-true processes, products, and consumer base.
In this post, we’ll take a look into why sustainability is important for your bottom line and how to incorporate more sustainable practices into your business, whether firmly established or just getting started.
When thinking about why sustainability is important, consider both the external and internal benefits.
From the external point of view, more consumers are aware of making good choices when shopping, with reduce, reuse, and recycle campaigns not only commonplace but deeply ingrained. If your business or brand is seen as more sustainable, that will help customers feel good about the product and about their choice. This can help drive sales and increase revenue.
Internally, practices like cutting down on packaging used or redesigning products to create less waste in production can help to lower costs as well as meet sustainability goals. This can help boost your profit margin, regardless of whether customers are ever aware that you’re taking these steps (though we say if you’re doing it – shout it from the rafters).
Reducing costs and carbon footprint at the same time is a win-win situation. However, the only way to know if you’re saving money is to start tracking your numbers – so start paying attention – and you’ll see your profits in no time.
Let’s take a look at three critical areas within your business where you can apply more sustainable practices: products, packaging, and logistics.
Start with the material used for your products. Some processes produce a lot of waste to make a product, so work with your suppliers or factories to see where there’s a possibility to save resources as well as money by using the current materials differently.
If it’s possible, see if a more sustainable option is available. For example, if your product uses plastic, see if a recycled or recyclable alternative is available. Considering the end-of-life of your product is a great place to start thinking more sustainably.
Another aspect to consider with your product is the green miles, or the distance they travel during manufacture. If the materials travel a long way by truck to get to the factory, and then again for processing, before they’re even shipped, that adds a lot of energy consumption and time to the process. Check with suppliers and factories for more locally produced materials or components to save time and money.
The space that your product takes up costs money in so many ways. The packaging itself, shipping it to your warehouse or direct to Amazon, the storage fees – it all adds up.
If you can trim the packaging down, or redesign it to be more compact, you will save money and resources. Get help with that from the free SoStocked carton and pallet calculator and their free FBA size tier calculator tool. These incredible tools can help you save thousands of dollars a year, and can help reduce the environmental impact of your products.
Amazon recently announced that they’re reducing the additional packaging on many items, which is even more reason for businesses on Amazon to revisit their packaging to make sure it’s up to their standards.
It’s an unavoidable fact of ecommerce that products are made cheaper overseas, but getting them to where you need them can be expensive.
Rush ordering products and having them delivered by air is more expensive and emits more carbon dioxide than sea freight. The best way to avoid this is by forecasting your inventory needs better and further in advance. Forecast more accurately up to a year in advance with tools like SoStocked, helping you make sure you order only what you need, and when you need to order it.
Being more sustainable without telling anyone is a noble endeavor, but we all mean business. Market research has shown that sustainability increases customer loyalty and retention, so if you’re making major commitments to sustainability, it’s definitely something worth promoting.
Devoting a page on a D2C site detailing your efforts, commitments, or any goals you are setting for your business or brand would be a big step in educating your customer base. And don’t forget about packaging: When it comes to make purchasing decisions, consumers do judge a package by its cover. If you’re making sustainable moves, don’t be afraid to call it out.
Think of it this way: If you are a long-standing business, offering the same products at the same quality, but now with a more conscious effort to be environmentally friendly, it won’t scare your customers away. We’re pretty confident that no customer has ever looked at a sustainability page and thought “No, I want my choices to be as harmful as possible to the environment,” and gone elsewhere!
There are two key times to take advantage of communicating with your customers about sustainability:
In terms of how you approach communicating this, you could simply add the new information to your existing email, social, or listing details you were already going to create. But if you’re making a broader push into sustainability, you could also consider creating a new dedicated channel that you can use to promote your sustainability efforts into the future.
Getting your products into the hands of influencers is a great way to get the product as well as your story seen. Read more in our blog Mastering Influencer Marketing: Strategies for Successful Brand-Influencer Partnerships to find out how you can make this work for you.
Greenwashing, sometimes called green sheen, is when marketing or advertising efforts make false or intentionally misleading environmentally friendly claims.
It is important to market your products, brand, and business faithfully to the customer, as building trust helps to bolster reputation and desirability. Dishonestly calling something organic or eco-friendly is a surefire way to (at a minimum) upset customers, but it could also lead to listing suspensions.
Be sure to conduct thorough research into any sustainability terms or certifications before using them publicly to avoid potential problems.
Even though sustainability is at the forefront of the minds of many customers and business owners, there are ways to approach it that are less “peace and love” and more practical solutions for the future.
Smarter inventory management from SoStocked can help save you money and be more mindful in your ordering, making it a great partner in your sustainability efforts.
Tracking your progress and sharing it with partners, employees, or even customers is only possible with clear and easy-to-understand data. Use tools like ManageByStats and D8aDriven to bring clarity to otherwise complicated data and information.
Common sense sustainability is part of the new era of digital business. How will you stay green?