Ecommerce Sustainability by the Numbers

Three smart reasons to embrace sustainable ecommerce fulfillment

Consumers have high – and constantly growing – expectations of ecommerce sellers. Free, fast shipping. No hassle returns. And now, sustainable business practices.

But sustainability is much more than a consumer trend or a social movement.  It also just makes good business sense. Here are three reasons why.

1. Your Customers Want It

Some 80% of consumers have made a shift towards sustainability

Some 80% of US consumers say that they made a shift towards being more sustainable over the last five years.

Plus, 83% of consumers say they will always choose a brand with a better sustainability record.

Overall, 65% of consumers will consider the environment when making an order. And this rises to 85% of those aged 18-24.

2. Your Employees Expect It

Some 70% of employees at large US companies say they are more likely to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda.

And, in another survey, 70% of employees said that having a strong sustainability platform would affect their decision to stay with a company long term.

3. Your Competition is Already Doing It

The corner office is listening. When surveyed, 80% of the CEOs who intend to invest in new or improved products in the next two years cited sustainability as one of the top three drivers – ranking sustainability at the same level as brand trust as a competitive differentiator.

In another survey, CxOs say that they expect the top benefits of corporate sustainability efforts to include climate change, but also expect sustainability programs will help meet customer expectations and improve brand recognition.

  • 49% of CxOs surveyed said corporate sustainability efforts will improve brand recognition
  • 46% of CxOs say sustainability is important in meeting customer expectations
  • 43% of CxOs say addressing climate change is a top benefit of corporate sustainability efforts

Here’s another practical concern: If your organization doesn’t already have sustainability initiatives, objectives and published commitments in place, chances are it soon will.  

The consultants at Gartner project 60% of companies will include sustainability in their top three priorities by 2030. In other research, some 51% of CEOs say sustainability is already on top of their list of challenges, up from 34% just the year before.

That means your management will be looking to you for strategies to meet these goals.

Improving Ecommerce Sustainability

Fortunately, how you execute your ecommerce fulfillment strategy offers solid opportunities for sustainability improvements.

In a study by Walmart on the environmental impact of ecommerce vs traditional retail, the underlying environmental impact of ecommerce came down to packaging and transportation. That's because almost all ecommerce orders and any resulting returns eventually will need to be packaged and shipped. The trick is to do that in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

So how can you provide environmental sustainability while still sustaining acceptable margins?

Fulfillment sustainability often comes down to three factors:

Shipping Carton Selection

Minimizing shipping carton size and weight while using environmentally friendly materials is an important first step in reaching your sustainability goals.

Delivery Distance

The next step is to minimize shipping distance while still meeting customer and marketplace delivery expectations.  That’s a bit more complicated than just addressing packaging issues because it involves putting inventory closer to customers – often through the use of partners. But the math is clear: Less miles traveled for the final customer delivery usually results in less environmental impact.

While consumers say they embrace sustainability, only 34% say they will pay more more sustainable products


Implementing sustainable fulfillment practices is complex. Using automation helps to make sure that the best choice is made for every shipment so even small gains on a per package basis can accumulate to significant gains over time in meeting your sustainability targets.

For more detail on these three strategies, see our blog post on Sustainable Ecommerce Fulfillment: How to improve sustainability when fulfilling ecommerce orders.

One last statistic: While consumers embrace sustainability, only 34% are willing to actually pay more for sustainable products and services.

The good news. Smart choices that improve the sustainability of your ecommerce fulfillment strategy can also result in lower fulfillment costs. That frees up cash to invest in supporting corporate sustainability commitments.

For more information and the sources cited here, be sure to download our white paper “Ecommerce Sustainability: The Complete Guide to Sustainable Ecommerce Fulfillment”.

Additional resources


Ecommerce Sustainability: The Complete Guide to Sustainable Ecommerce Fulfillment


Sustainable Ecommerce Fulfillment: How to improve sustainablity when fulfilling ecommerce orders

Quantifying the Ecommerce Sustainability of Distributed Order Management and Ideal Inventory Placement


Shipping Optimization: Powerful automation to reduce shipping costs and improve your margins

Order Optimization: Every D2C order routed to its best fulfillment option

Discover how Etail Solutions can help you scale and grow your ecommerce. Find out if our platform is right for you.

Talk to us today.