Following the principles of sustainability is already a necessity in e-commerce

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Following the principles of sustainability is already a necessity in e-commerce

The awareness of environmental responsibility among Polish consumers is growing year on year. Factors related to the principles of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility play an increasingly important role in the choice of e-commerce and the products it sells. These are one of the main conclusions of the report “Responsible e-commerce 2023”, prepared by the Chamber of Electronic Economy. The report also hints at what entrepreneurs should do to be seen by customers as socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

Responsible shopping on the increase

Awareness of sustainability terms is still relatively low among Poles, but is growing rapidly year on year (especially among zillenials, i.e. those born on the border between the millennial generation and generation Z). 21% of respondents have knowledge of sustainable economic development, which is a 6% increase on last year. Knowledge of what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is declared by 23% of respondents, a year-on-year increase of up to 10% (up 15% when comparing data from 2021).

And although it is still not a high percentage, there is no doubt that it is becoming increasingly important for Polish consumers that businesses follow the principles of sustainability. How does this translate into expectations towards e-commerce and the choice of a particular online shop as a place to purchase products? As many as two out of three Polish consumers (67%) declare that they take into account whether a company is socially responsible. Among customers who shop online at least twice a month, this percentage is even higher at 79%.

The main factor in choosing an online retailer is, of course, price – no surprise here. It has strengthened its position at number one, which is certainly influenced by high inflation. However, according to this year’s Responsible e-commerce report, 35% of consumers are also attracted to an online shop by factors related to sustainability and CSR (or its extension ESG). These factors are even more important when choosing a specific product, with one in two consumers (50%) paying attention to them.

It is also worth mentioning that 26% of respondents do not notice any unethical or environmentally unfriendly practices in the activities of e-stores.

Retailers, focus on eco-friendly delivery and education

So, what should e-commerce management do to meet the expectations of consumers and ensure that they are willing and frequent shoppers? One of the main areas that businesses should focus on is the delivery.

For as many as 61% of respondents, it is important that purchased products are shipped in environmentally friendly packaging. Furthermore, almost 3 in 10 respondents (28%) are willing to pay extra for such packaging, although they would like to spend a maximum of PLN 5 for it. And 4 in 10 Polish consumers (40%) would be willing to wait longer for the purchased products to be delivered – if it meant that they would be delivered in a single package.

An effective way to build an image of responsible e-commerce is also to educate consumers and inform them about your sustainability activities. Polish consumers are open to deepening their knowledge in this area, and they also approve of the introduction of various eco-solutions (but only if they are offered at the time of purchase).

Respondents also pointed to returns as an activity that does not have a good impact on the environment. Detailed product descriptions, the addition of good-quality photos and videos, information about the ingredients and origin of products, or innovative solutions that make it easier to match products – e.g. clothes for yourself or furniture for your home – should all help to reduce them.

E-commerce executives also took part in the survey. The vast majority of them said that they benefit from applying sustainability and CSR principles. First and foremost, these are image benefits – indicated by 9 out of 10 representatives of e-commerce companies, compared to 70% last year – although strategic and development benefits for the brand, as well as economic benefits also received a lot of indications (77% and 65% respectively).

Being a socially responsible, environmentally-conscious company should therefore be included in the strategic operations of any e-commerce that wants to succeed on the market.

Read more about ESG and sustainable development in business.

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