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Can e-commerce be eco-friendly?

Can selling online with e-commerce be sustainable and green?

I got a great question in a dm over on Linkedin

Hi Matt, I have always been interested in selling online. E-commerce and SEO in particularly really alert my attention. However, recently I have had my eyes opened to the damage we are doing to the planet. I'm studying an Environmental Studies degree with the Open University and whilst I am very much interested in pursuing e-commerce, the sustainability side of things is something that aligns strongly with my values. Have you any advice on how to launch a viable 'green' e-commerce based brand?

It got me thinking and I wanted to share my response so that more people could potentially benefit from it. This is my unedited response - it's short but hopefully gives the idea. If you've got any more questions feel free to send them over.

Creating a 'green' e-commerce based brand.

Is it possible? 100% let's start with the idea of e-commerce and then can chat about the green or sustainable approaches.

what e-commerce is

green e-commerce brand

Once you have a good idea of what you'd like to create and how you would make it green the e-commerce bit is just the place in which you serve the products/services to the people

in fact, i'd even say that e-commerce is super important for creating viable green sustainable businesses.

hope there are some ideas in there which is helpful but thanks for asking the question!

a follow-up response

Thank you for getting back to me Matt. That has given me some real food for thought. I suppose my only other question is regarding budgeting restraints.

How plausible is dropshipping for sustainable suppliers in the current economy?

Also, what would be the best way to drive traffic if I was to pursue dropshipping?

I envision a website dedicated solely to 'green' products or services where eco conscious consumers can shop for their favourite brands. But, rather than having to navigate through these often expansive catalogues that brands offer. This will be a condensed version where only products or services with a strong 'sustainability score' will be displayed. In essence, forming a bridge for suppliers to capture a whole new market and subsequently increase their green reputation. Whilst also increasing accessibility and ease of access for eco-conscious consumers.

Here's what I had to say:

Budgeting restraints

- it's never been easier and simpler to open up a e-commerce store. If you compare what it would cost to open up a physical store paying £20-30 a month to have an online store is not so much
- you've already talked about dropshipping so cost of goods comes after the sale as well

Driving traffic

- main ones are always - social media, SEO & ads, organic word of mouth etc
- these can costs from 0 all the way up to £10000s doing it yourself saves on costs but will cost in time

How plausible is dropshipping for sustainable suppliers in the current economy?

People are still buying goods & services no matter what is happening in the economy. People still need food, clothes, etc

Another thing i would say would be if you can make an online store work in today's economy whenever things pick up and bounce up again you'll be in a much better position.

I'd also say that if you're on the path of do it yourself + learning. There is less pressure for things to work out right now. Learn how to do social media marketing, learn how to get suppliers, learn how to do SEO, learn how to set up a website etc.

There's probably a whole lot of things you could learn along the way

Ending Thoughts: Selling Strawberry Jam 🍓

So there you have it. Some thoughts on creating a green e-commerce brand. I absolutely love this topic and this idea. I would love it if a new wave of energised people would start to ask new questions about how we rethink business.

I'm a big fan of e-commerce and feel that it can be applied to any person or business to sell more goods and services. If you have personal values of creating sustainable & green alternatives then I think that's an awesome pursuit. I would say e-commerce is a better alternative than traditional brick and motor. Alongside this, you have the opportunity to build and create it in any way you want. Which is what I was trying to illustrate above.

Let me end with a specific example that would hopefully illustrate this idea even better.

Let's say you want to sell local & organic strawberry jam. You are conscious of how you want to course the berries. You make sure they are from farmers around you.

Well by using e-commerce you are able to get your strawberry jam into the hands of people who would love to have it. By opening up an online store, and putting your products up for sale you can ship directly to the customer too. It can be your choice to sell within your country if you are conscious about shipping outside of your country.

If you are still concerned you don't even need to ship. You can just sell in your local community if that is what you're really looking to do and offer. But by still having an online shopping experience people can look, decide and pay for it. Making it much more convenient for them. Meanwhile, you can fulfil the orders by whatever way you like! You could even advertise that you will be down by your local farmers market where they will be able to pick up their order.

As you can see there are so many different ways to approach e-commerce so if the question is if it is possible. My answer is 100% yes and it's up to you how you'd like to go about it.