Sustainability is a hot-button issue in ecommerce fulfillment at the moment, and for good reason. Not only is the planet actively getting hotter as we speak, but the business environmental impact of the industry is hard to ignore. Plastic waste, paper waste, and the sheer degree of carbon dioxide emissions related to deliveries and transport is no insignificant matter. Although these are absolutely systemic issues as opposed to something that can be fully rectified by individual action, there are still a few steps that a merchant can take to avoid fostering an environment of ecommerce waste more so than what already exists. Read on for a short overview of the situation at hand and what you as a seller can do to prioritize sustainable practices in your business.
Let’s look at the facts- In 2019 alone, Amazon by itself created 495 million pounds of plastic waste. That’s tons and tons of non-biodegradable single-use plastics floating around in landfills and our oceans. Millions of pounds of bubble wrap and cushioning air bags and shrink-wrap packaging. Meanwhile, the amount of cardboard packaging produced every year represents the yield of almost one billion trees. This isn’t even taking into account the transportation of all the goods which require the aforementioned packaging- growth in the realm of last-mile delivery is projected to increase carbon emissions by 30% by the year 2030. It’s no secret that when it comes to humanity’s carbon footprint ecommerce climate change is a massive contributor.
You may be wondering what all the sudden fuss is about. After all, it was only recently that business environmental impact became a hot-button topic in the news. If you look at the fact that e-commerce has only grown exponentially over the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the rationale behind it becomes far more clear. The problem has become big enough fast enough that the problem has become impossible to ignore. As scientists, governments, and everyday people are working tirelessly to develop carbon management software to ensure our ecological footprint shrinks instead of grows over time, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to take a hard look at industries we don’t immediately think of when it comes to the topic of business environmental issues.
How can retailers reduce carbon footprint and CO2 emissions? There’s a number of things you can consider. When it comes to matters of products and packaging, here’s a few things to keep in mind: Shrink your packaging and see that it’s made of sustainable materials. Be transparent with your customers, as the ecological impact is becoming more and more of a deciding factor in whether someone makes a purchase. And do your best to deliver a quality product so that returns are minimized as much as humanly possible.
But what about in the ecommerce supply chain itself? Admittedly it’s more difficult to influence a global process such as a delivery chain, but there are things that merchants can do even as individuals or small groups. The first thing you should do as a merchant is to set and outline goals you can actually stick to. It’sno good to create projections based on ambitions that are lofty at best and totally unachievable at worst, and then later be shocked that things aren’t running as you planned. But if you take things with a healthy sense of realism and look at what you’re likely to actually be able to accomplish, you’ll be able to plan for the future much better than you would be able to otherwise.
Secondly, look towards the rest of the industry for partnerships and collaborations. It can be difficult to know where to start when you’re just beginning. That’s the point of being a beginner, after all. Working with other brands that share your mission, however, can not only help to get your name out there, but give you a working sustainability model to go off of.
Finally, reevaluate your inventory management system. So many man-hours are totally wasted and lost to inefficient intake and warehouse organization. If your pickers have to run all over the fulfillment center to find a certain product, that wasted labor translates into emissions released into the atmosphere, electricity misused, and personnel whose time could be better used elsewhere being forced to pick through someone else’s sloppy work. Keeping track of every moving piece can help things run more smoothly than they otherwise would. This concept is called supply chain visibility.
Even small changes can make a big difference when you add them up. Choose the ecologically friendly path, and watch how it pays off for your business.
The importance of supply chain management can’t be overstated. A good handle on it can mean the difference between getting your necessary materials on time, and being left in limbo for weeks on end. But what is visibility in supply chain contexts? Strictly speaking, it refers to the ability of parts, components or products in transit to be tracked from manufacturer to final destination. End to end supply chain visibility aims to improve and strengthen the chain by providing data to all stakeholders, customer included. Once manufacturers and merchants have the data, they have the information and knowledge necessary to take needed steps to handle any hiccups before they pose a serious problem, such as improving their physical distribution.
We here at P2Pseller are committed to bringing about the e-commerce revolution through a democratized and decentralized approach to warehousing and fulfillment. This includes reducing ecological impact by ensuring our customers can look for local solutions which offer sustainable packaging options. Of course, solutions for our current issues typically lie far outside the realm of consumption and buying the “correct” things and more in the realm of policy, but avoiding unnecessary carbon emissions and the use of harmful single-use materials can only help ameliorate the environmental issues caused by businesses. If this interests you, you can make a free account with us today in order to browse our offerings and see what we can do for you and the planet.