Working Towards Sustainable eCommerce
eCommerce brands have shown shoppers how enjoyable, diverse, and convenient shopping online can be. Customers are eager to buy from online brands, whilst also being aware that the pleasures of eCommerce come with a cost to the planet. Developing a sustainable supply chain is now critical to eCommerce businesses, and they’re partnering with 3PLs to accelerate the process.
How Much Do Consumers Care?
A good deal is the answer. A recent survey from Deloitte found that consumers are looking for innovative ways to manage a more uncertain world. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle is one of them. 40% of those asked said that they were actively choosing brands “that have environmentally sustainable practices/values.”, whilst 34% stopped purchasing brands or products because of ethical or sustainability related concerns.
It seems clear that sustainable practices/values will increasingly translate into business growth.
Working With a 3PL to Build a Sustainable Supply Chain
An eCommerce brand with sustainability as its goal will need to do two things:
- Product. Assess both product materials and manufacturing process for current sustainability levels. Then work to improve sustainability in consultation with suppliers and manufacturers.
- Supply Chain. Inspect every stage of the supply chain to determine how, at each stage, the end product can be processed for delivery in a more environmentally friendly way.
3PLs can help businesses build a sustainable supply chain. Mature 3PLs, like Prolog Fulfilment, made the strategic business decision a while back, to work carbon neutrally and set incremental goals on our journey to net zero status.
These goals include ongoing reduction of our carbon footprint, a reduction of waste materials, the creation of energy-efficient systems, and the growth of a network of like-minded industry partners.
Finding Sustainable Alternatives for Packaging
Given our current level of use, plastics threaten our ability to maintain global temperature below 1.5°C. Prolog Fulfilment has, therefore, undertaken to reduce the use of plastic packaging, wherever we can source a sustainable alternative.
To date we have replaced the following types of packaging with eco-friendly substitutes:
- Air Pillows
- Bubble-lined mailing bags
- Grey mailing bags
- Plastic tape replaced by paper tape
- Bubble wrap replaced by paper alternative
- Black stretch wrap alternative
Designing Packaging for Recycling or Re-Use
For the majority of consumers, sustainability starts with small actions, like recycling materials, or re-using items rather than throwing them away. At Prolog we consider the economic and environmental cost to every packaging solution we use. Recycled materials are selected wherever possible, and the minimisation of waste from packaging is an ongoing goal for the business.
- Sustainable materials – alternatives to plastic where available.
- Returns-ready packaging – reducing additional use of packaging materials.
- Packaging designed for operational efficiency.
- Kerbside recyclable materials – making recycling easy for shoppers.
- Customised packaging for re-use.
- Improved cost per unit efficiency.
- Reduction of packaging waste.
Optimised Packaging for Shipping
Part of Prolog’s onboarding service for new clients is an audit of their current supply chain process. Through multiple small adjustments we are able to optimise efficiency, reduce costs and work towards a more sustainable supply chain. The size and shape of packaging is one of the areas we pay attention to.
Using boxes and packages that are oversized increases your carbon footprint, adds to the cost of shipping, and certainly won’t delight your customers. We can optimise your packaging to reduce waste, streamline packages for transit, and improve storage capability.
Think Carefully About Returns
Around half of all goods bought online are returned, a figure which is unsustainable in more ways than one! Recent surveys show that consumers are concerned about the environmental consequences, but want to retain the right to return. 71% asked said they would support more sustainable options.
At present there’s no standard way to create sustainable returns. Some major retailers have stopped free returns altogether; others have given customers the option of returning items to a High Street store. Prolog provides returns management which actively incorporates reverse logistics. We also run detailed returns data reports for clients, and can work with them to minimise their volume of returns.
Are You Looking for a More Sustainable Supply Chain?
Prolog is an established order fulfilment provider offers the infrastructure, expertise, and aspiration to achieve our net zero targets. One of our goals is to work with clients on their journey towards a sustainable supply chain. If you want to enhance your brand’s sustainability, we would love to talk to you.
Prolog located in the heart of the UK, with flexible warehousing and a trained, highly motivated workforce. We offer far more than basic fulfilment; at every stage of the process, we provide a personalised service, tailored to your brand. We’re designed to deliver sustainable growth to your business exceed your customers’ expectations.