In the age of free shipping and guaranteed delivery times, the impact of eCommerce on the climate and the environment is evident, with businesses under even more pressure to do their bit and help their customers live more sustainably. Among consumers who value brand name above all else, 80% are even willing to pay an extra 10% or more on a product with eco-friendly shipping and packaging. Brands that neglect to support their customers in the fight against climate change are at risk of getting left behind in favour of competitors.
Although sustainability should be integral to your long-term business goals, there are some small steps you can take right now to be greener for the benefit of your customers, your bottom line, and the planet. This can start with offering a means for your customers to offset their carbon emissions or contribute to environmental projects via your online store. In this blog, we’ve highlighted the top 5 best plugins for eCommerce stores that can be used to offset carbon emissions or support environmental protection and regeneration initiatives.
EcoCart is a modern checkout plugin that uses a proprietary algorithm to estimate each order’s unique carbon footprint in real-time by looking at variables such as shipping distance, package weight, and product type. EcoCart then gives your customer the option to make their order carbon neutral for a small donation towards your chosen sustainability project. These projects range from reforestation and conservation to water purification and renewable energy production, giving you plenty of scope to donate to a project that aligns with your brand’s values.
What many businesses may find particularly useful about EcoCart is that it provides in-depth analysis and insights on the carbon footprint of a brand’s entire supply chain – from manufacturing to shipping – and the impact of changes the brand makes in real-time. This information can then be shared with customers online through easily digestible metrics, including “impact counters” for total carbon offset and trees saved. EcoCart claims to boost cart conversions rate by an impressive 10%.
2. Carbon Checkout
Carbon Checkout is a popular checkout plugin that can be easily integrated with various eCommerce platforms, including Shopify. It will appear on your store’s checkout page, where customers can choose to participate with one click and balance the carbon footprint of their orders. Participating customers will then receive an email with a unique hyperlink verification code that can be used to access their personal Carbon Portfolio on the Carbon Checkout website, where they can track their carbon offset contributions. All Carbon Checkout contributions are pooled together to fund certified carbon offsetting, renewable energy, and reforestation projects.
Cloverly integrates with Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento, but can also provide a custom integration depending on the eCommerce platform that you use. It is a carbon offset plugin for online checkouts and enables your customers to make their deliveries carbon neutral for typically less than £0.83p, based on real-time data. On completion of their purchase, your customers will receive a certificate and a receipt with details of the exact carbon project they supported and the impact it has on the planet and communities. Transactions are aggregated on Cloverly’s dedicated dashboard, where you can create custom reports to help you track your progress on becoming more climate-positive.
Ecologi is a tree-planting plugin that integrates with Shopify. It takes just 2 minutes to install and set up – you simply visit the app page on Shopify, select “Add app” and follow the instructions. Once set up, you can select parameters based on your business, whether that be to plant a tree for each sale, every order, or for a set amount. You can even set caps on how many trees you buy. Each tree is billed at £0.27p, with the costs added to your monthly Shopify invoice for simple and hassle-free billing. Ecologi helps eCommerce businesses contribute to reforestation and carbon offsetting initiatives around the world, including Africa, South America and South East Asia.
With integrations for Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify and BigCommerce, GreenStory is a sustainability analysis plugin that uses the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to calculate the environmental impact associated with each product you sell, and provides useful suggestions on how you can minimise this impact. In addition, GreenStory enables you to demonstrate to customers how sustainable your products are through customisable widgets that can be displayed across your eCommerce store to drive conversions. This plugin also allows businesses to accurately quantify and offset the carbon emissions generated from shipping orders. Brands can choose from a wide range of carbon offsetting projects to contribute to, based on which projects best match their supply chain locations or align with their values.
The benefits of a greener eCommerce approach
Helping customers offset their carbon emissions or support environmental initiatives through their online purchases can provide several benefits to eCommerce brands.
Increased customer loyalty & satisfaction
As we know, many consumers today are eco-conscious and prefer to purchase from companies that share their values. By giving them a means to support sustainable projects, online brands can appeal to this audience and demonstrate that they are taking concrete steps to address environmental concerns. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction, as customers feel good about supporting and buying products from businesses that genuinely care about their impact on the planet.
A survey by Stifel found that 73% of consumers consider sustainability factors when choosing between brands. This suggests that the sustainable credentials of your business could make all the difference in winning a customer or losing one to a competitor. The chance to offset the carbon emissions of purchases at checkout can, therefore, help eCommerce brands differentiate themselves from competitors and attract customers who prioritise environmental responsibility.
Improved brand image & reputation
Some of the eCommerce plugins discussed in this blog allow you to promote the sustainability of your products across every customer touchpoint, including your eStore and social media channels. This is a great way of proactively demonstrating to customers online that your business is committed to making a positive impact on the environment and contributing to a more sustainable future, which can go a long way to improving your brand image and reputation, thus boosting sales.
Many eCommerce brands perceive sustainable practises as a hit to their bottom line, but the reality is that investing in carbon offsetting and environmental projects can generate cost savings. For instance, by optimising the order fulfilment process to minimise carbon output, brands can reduce their operational costs and improve the efficiency of their supply chain. Businesses that cut their carbon footprint may also be able to avoid paying taxes and other charges related to carbon emissions.
Most countries are now in a race to reach net-zero and as governments implement more regulations and policies to address growing environmental concerns, eCommerce businesses that are committed to sustainability and genuinely following planet-friendly practices will be better positioned to comply with any new regulations. This can reduce the risk of non-compliance penalties and other legal liabilities, which can prove costly to an eCommerce brand in the long run.
Empower your customers to tackle climate change
It is in everyone’s best interests to be more sustainable. With consumers believing that brands have as much responsibility as governments to create positive environmental change, now is the time for businesses to empower their customers to tackle the climate crisis – implementing sustainable checkout plugins is a small step towards making a big difference. Of course, carbon offsetting and environmental projects should be considered as part of your overall sustainability strategy, but you can go a step further by partnering with an eco-conscious 3PL provider like Zendbox to improve the sustainability of your eCommerce operations.
Resilient and forward-thinking, Gilson is responsible for leading the strategy, planning and execution of our customer experience (CX) goals, liaising with department heads to ensure every team at Zendbox works cohesively to provide our clients a positive and seamless experience across all touchpoints.