9 December 2020 Luke Goldsworthy


Being a sustainable eCommerce business used to offer a point of difference over competitors, but as the realities of global warming and environmental threats become widely accepted by consumers, it is now important to be sustainable just to avoid losing business. At The Playhouse Group, we expect sustainability to be one of the key eCommerce trends for the coming year and indeed decade.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by all United Nations members in 2015, sets out the international community’s commitment to achieving economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

The whole world knows sustainability is an issue, and it will increasingly affect purchasing decisions. Research from Nielsen found: “a whopping 81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.”

Put simply, sustainability is about operating in a manner that can be continued in perpetuity. For businesses in Australia, the focus is primarily on the environmental dimension, and not depleting environmental resources but rather maintaining a long-term ecological balance. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest figures show a seasonally-adjusted annual growth in online retail of 70.8% between October 2019 and 2020. Growth was already strong heading into the year, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen it skyrocket. Unfortunately, online retail growth has also harmed the environment, primarily due to increases in packaging and transport. 

There are several ways that eCommerce businesses can move towards sustainability to help address the issue – and it’s not just about making the morally correct decision but also a profitable business. Millennials are the largest group of online shoppers, and they are also the demographic most concerned about the environment. Additionally, many customers are happy to pay a premium across all age groups to support sustainable businesses and initiatives.

Here are three ways in which your business can move towards sustainable eCommerce:

  • Environmental-friendly products – where possible you can supplement or replace your current product offering with those manufactured to sustainable standards.
  • Improve packing by using eco-friendly packaging, biodegradable or recyclable, and by reducing packing waste.
  • Sustainable shipping – as part of the checkout process, you should provide environmentally friendly shipping options, now offered by many major carriers. Additionally, you could add an optional carbon offset service charge during the checkout process, as has become standard when purchasing flights.

These are just a few relatively easy steps that your business can take. Others include reducing returned products, promoting product reuse (like Ikea has recently done with its Buy Back program), powering your business with renewable energy, and partnering with a local sustainability organisation.

When making sustainability part of your business ethos, it is essential to let your customers know. Don’t be shy about promoting your decision and the specific steps you’ve implemented to achieve that goal. Place a statement on your website and social media. It should be explained as part of your “About us”.

Moving towards sustainability is inevitable, and will eventually be legislated. But you can get ahead of the curve by taking steps now, demonstrating that your business is innovative, and socially conscious, while also not jeopardising your bottom line.

Getting your eCommerce business just right can be tricky, but The Playhouse Group is here to help. Click on the button below to set up an obligation-free appointment with one of our specialists, and we can discuss any of your eCommerce needs.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.