Sustainability is increasingly top of mind for today’s consumers. According to Mastercard, over half of consumers say they prioritize brands that are open about their carbon footprints. Brands are beginning to recognize this new reality and roll out new initiatives. But here's the rub: consumers are increasingly wary of greenwashing’ practices.
What they want to see is evidence of authentic, measurable efforts to reduce carbon footprints. One of the easiest ways to do this? Carbon offsetting.
E-commerce businesses who lack the fiscal and logistical ability to overhaul their supply chains, or completely phase out other carbon-emitting activities, can leverage carbon offsets to counter their organization’s negative impact on the planet. Meanwhile, larger businesses can leverage carbon offsets to balance out the emissions they can’t diminish - all the while enabling their customers to participate in these initiatives.
So, how can e-commerce brands bring carbon offsetting into their operation? Discover how Ryder E-commerce is partnering with top players in this space to enable more sustainable operations.
- Carbon offsetting allows for individuals and brands to reduce their carbon footprint by supporting projects that counteract carbon emissions.
- E-commerce brands benefit from carbon offsetting by enhancing supply chain sustainability, showcasing their commitment to sustainability, and encouraging customers to engage in climate action.
- Ryder E-commerce's partnership with EcoCart is helping the e-commerce sector to calculate and offset the carbon footprint of customer orders via a streamlined plugin at checkout, resulting in increased conversions and compelling sustainability initiatives for customers to participate in.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a practical and effective way for brands and individuals alike to reduce (or neutralize) their carbon footprint and work toward a more sustainable future. From the energy needed to manufacture goods, transport them, and get them ready for resale, all of these activities emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which directly contributes to the climate crisis.
By purchasing carbon offsets, brands can support projects that actively remove, reduce or prevent future carbon emissions. These activities include things like forest protection and management, composting, creating clean energy sources, and more.
When a brand works to reduce carbon emissions and offsets the remaining carbon dioxide, this is called becoming ‘carbon neutral’. This means they make no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In other words, carbon offsetting allows brands to mitigate their carbon footprint when it comes to emissions that can’t be completely reduced or removed.
Why carbon offsetting is beneficial for e-commerce brands
Improving supply chain sustainability
E-commerce businesses have long and complex supply chains, with many stages of transportation and shipping as goods proceed from the manufacturer to the wholesaler, to the brand, and finally to the end customer. This results in high greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and poor energy efficiency, making it harder for the industry as a whole to fight climate change.
Carbon offsetting makes it possible for businesses to actively reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint, especially during the carbon-intensive last mile of delivery.
Showcase your sustainability credentials
Today's e-commerce customers are more aware than ever of the dark side of online shopping. The flip side of convenience and quick delivery is significant carbon emissions in every step of the supply chain, which consumers are increasingly worried about in the era of climate change.
Rather than give up shopping online altogether, most consumers prefer to shop with merchants who are making credible efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and make their operations as sustainable as possible. In fact, 92% of shoppers say they want to live more sustainably and 83% want to support brands that have a record of taking climate action.
Retailer Flo & Frankie partnered with Greenspark to offer a planting trees initiative for every customer order.
Carbon offsetting is an actionable initiative where it's easy for brands to report the results of their and their customers' collective efforts, such as Flo & Frankie's running total of how many trees their customers have helped to plant globally. This opens up some great marketing opportunities to reach more eco-conscious customers.
Encourage customers to adopt eco-conscious habits
One of the unique things about carbon offsets as a sustainability initiative is that it's actioned by customers, rather than brands themselves. Online sellers can offer carbon offsetting projects, but the customers get to choose whether or not to participate.
This helps to empower online shoppers to educate themselves on carbon emissions and understand how their actions can help combat climate change by reducing emissions. By enabling customers to (literally) put their money where their mouth is, it paves the way for consumers to build sustainable habits elsewhere.
Carbon-neutral shipping and delivery with EcoCart
EcoCart assists your brand with carbon offsetting the easy way by powering sustainable, carbon-neutral experiences via a free, merchant-branded e-commerce plugin that integrates directly with all major e-commerce platforms.
How does EcoCart work?
When a customer heads to the checkout, the algorithm calculates the total carbon footprint of their order and what it will cost to offset it. (This is usually somewhere between 1-2% of the cart total). This carbon offsetting fund is then used to contribute to a project of the brand's choice, such as planting trees for forest conservation to building wind farms. These offset projects can be tracked in real time and shared with your customer base.
EcoCart has scoured the globe for carbon offset projects that are innovative, permanent, and without unintended consequences. Every single one of the projects funded is triple-verified, which means:
- The project’s financials, management team, project site, and carbon reduction method are carefully vetted.
- At least one of the world’s major carbon standards reviews the project.
- Global Offset Research verifies the project against a second list of international standards.
Consumers are constantly looking for new ways to contribute to a healthier planet. That’s why brands who are using EcoCart see an average conversion boost of 14% when adding the plugin to their checkout!
Achieve cleaner, greener shipping with Ryder E-commerce + EcoCart
Ryder E-commerce and EcoCart believe that joining forces to help offset the carbon-heavy ecommerce sector is the best path forward to create sustainable, long-lasting change. As a forward-thinking e-commerce fulfillment provider, Ryder E-commerce's partnership with EcoCart is a continuation of its embrace of technological solutions to combat inefficiencies across the supply chain.
To date, Ryder E-commerce customers including H&M, Goop, and G-star Raw have collectively offset over 4,123,477 lbs. of CO2 and saved over 135,194 trees – and the mission is only just beginning.
Top tips to enhance the e-commerce customer experience with carbon offsetting
So, how can e-commerce brands ensure they are getting full mileage out of their carbon offsetting projects, both for the planet and for their brand?
Assess your carbon footprint
Before you start choosing offset projects, you need to know how much carbon emissions and greenhouse gases your business needs to offset in the first place. E-commerce businesses release emissions during almost every point in the supply chain, including the operation of fulfillment centers, transporting goods, packaging waste, and more. Zeroing in on the biggest emitters is essential to both reduce emissions and select the right carbon offsetting strategy for your brand.
Select offset projects that align with your business
Choosing offsetting initiatives that are highly relevant to your brand and your customers makes it far easier for shoppers to identify with your efforts. Carbon offsetting feels much more genuine when it can linked to causes or values that your brand already cares about.
For example, you could fund an offsetting project whose location is relevant to your brand, because it's where manufacturing happens or raw materials come from. The fact that a project is impacting a part of the planet that’s connected to your brand or audience will make the impact even more tangible.
Tell a compelling story
Beyond the act of offsetting carbon emissions, brands need to build a story around why and how they’re pursuing this particular sustainability strategy. If carbon offsetting isn't complimented by a value proposition to shoppers, customers are unlikely to take up carbon offset opportunities at the checkout - and may even dismiss your efforts as inauthentic.
By creating an environmental impact page for your website, you can create transparency and drive an emotional connection between customers and your carbon-offsetting mission. However, you should also thread your sustainability story throughout the customer experience. Just like when a brand’s packaging has a note inside explaining that it’s made of eco-friendly materials, your digital experience should showcase your sustainability efforts and inform shoppers what they’re supporting when they decide to make a purchase.
Allow customers to monitor your progress
The road to lowering your carbon footprint is a long one, and it's the journey that matters just as much as the destination. Keeping your customers in the loop with how your carbon offsetting efforts are going and the positive impact they have had keeps your brand accountable and generates numerous touchpoints with customers. This transparency is what helps brands to build trust with customers and drive business results. Examples of these touchpoints include:
- Educational social media campaigns to drive discovery and acquisition.
- Live impact trackers to build community and encourage sharing.
- Clear information on product pages.