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6 ways to switch to a sustainable supply chain
Order fulfilment

6 ways to switch to a sustainable supply chain

Versha Kamwal
March 22, 2023
mins read

In recent years, businesses have been persuaded to demonstrate greater environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Since then traditional as well as ecommerce businesses have shown a greater focus on sustainable operations.

Usually, the supply chain utilises a lot of resources (infrastructure, technology, finance) and it results in becoming a source of unnecessary wastage. Thus, making it critical to make supply chain management more sustainable throughout the product life cycles. Let’s find out how to implement this noble cause in the supply chain of ecommerce brands.

In this blog, you will learn what is a sustainable supply chain, why a sustainable supply chain is important in ecommerce and how to switch to a sustainable supply chain.

What is a sustainable supply chain?

A sustainable supply chain refers to transforming a supply chain while considering the environmental and human impact of their products’ journey, from sourcing raw materials to production, storage, order fulfilment and ecommerce delivery.

The goal of a sustainable supply chain is to minimise any harm to the environment from factors like energy usage, water consumption and waste production while having a positive impact on people, communities and future generations.

Why sustainable supply chain is important in ecommerce?

1. Better for the planet

The primary benefit of a sustainable supply chain is that it is good for the planet as it results in fewer carbon emissions and less waste.

2. Fulfils customers’ expectations

A sustainable supply chain is desirable for people too. Your customers will appreciate the fact you are committed to a noble cause. In fact,  MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that consumers may pay 2-10% more for products that provide supply chain transparency.

3. Builds brand reputation and customer loyalty

As the times are changing, consumers are growing much more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing habits, especially online. Your sustainable supply chain will help you build a strong reputation, acquire more customers and boost loyalty.

4. Ensures efficiency in operations

The two big components of a sustainable supply chain are reducing packaging materials and minimising wastage. And when you implement these correctly, they lead to more efficient ecommerce and fulfilment operations.

5. Saves money

Besides storage costs, a sustainable supply chain helps you save on overall costs as you reduce wastage and opt for greener options. Studies also show that energy costs decrease while adopting a sustainable supply chain. For example— companies set emission targets with suppliers and help them identify potential areas for improvement.

6. Ensure compliance

Governments around the world are making it mandatory to ensure greater supply chain sustainability, in part to meet the United Nations’ 2030 deadline for achieving sustainable development goals. By adopting a sustainable supply chain, you can adhere to the guidelines set forth by the international institutions.

How to switch to a sustainable supply chain?

1. Utilise sustainable resources

In manufacturing, many businesses use raw materials which are not good for the planet, such as plastic. You must consider using recyclable alternatives instead, such as paper, cardboard, bioplastics, biodegradable plastics, plant fibres, and more. In addition, you can use soy-based inks. They are eco-friendly, produce more vibrant colours, and are cheaper to produce.

2. Use eco-friendly packaging

If you are using plastic or other packaging material that isn't good for the environment, it's time to substitute it. In an attempt to ensure that orders are safe in transit, orders are filled to the brim with bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and other materials. Instead of using Styrofoam packaging peanuts, consider using air pillows made of recyclable materials. These are less expensive to buy and cost less while shipping as well as better for the environment.

Eshopbox enables ecommerce brands to customise their packaging with flexible packaging rules to take advantage of eco-friendly packaging for their online orders.

3. Opt for right-sized boxes

If you use oversized boxes, you are forced to use filler materials for more fragile products. Moreover, when you ship these oversized boxes, they take up more space during shipping, which adds to your shipping costs. So, pack carefully and use the right-sized box to prevent needless wastage of materials and space.

Eshopbox leverages efficient order packing that maximises cost savings and minimises negative environmental impact with the appropriate size of boxes and dunnage. This ensures that orders are safe in transit and less waste is produced.

4. Ensure packaging can be recycled

Single-use materials end up in landfills and harm the environment. Instead, you can opt for packaging that entices customers and can be reused. For example, instead of a single-use plastic bottle for jams, you can use glass bottles or instead of plastic bags, you can use organic fabric bags that can be reused by customers.

5. Avoid split shipments

Ecommerce brands usually, send orders which constitute multiple items in split shipments. You can ship orders in bulk and help reduce the amount of packaging waste and the carbon emissions produced by the logistics process’s vehicles.

Eshopbox reduces split shipments in two ways—an actionable dashboard predicts your ideal inventory allocation based on consumer demand and historical data. Secondly, Eshopbox’s IMS will help you ensure that you have optimum inventory levels and particular SKUs at specific fulfilment centres to minimise the chances of split shipments.

5. Select a comparatively greener delivery method

Ground transportation is less hazardous to the environment than air delivery—even though it ensures lightning shipping speed. So, you must employ appropriate transportation, examine and analyse your shipping history to determine when and where you might use each delivery mode to reduce emissions and shipping costs.

Eshopbox’s proprietary algorithm uses a combination of ground, air, and regional carriers to always deliver orders on time while selecting more greener options.

6. Offset waste with green benefits

There are times when you cannot avoid traditional packaging or air transportation but that shouldn’t affect your sustainability goals. You can consider planting a tree for every transaction you make in compensation. This will assist in reducing your emissions and allow your customers to see that you are actively addressing the climate catastrophe, which will increase brand recognition.

Bottom line

Sustainability has become a focal point of how customers make their choices on the internet while purchasing from an online brand. With this shift, it is absolutely important for online businesses to adopt a sustainable supply chain. Fortunately, with a 3PL like Eshopbox, you can cut down your carbon footprint, build customer trust and give a competitive edge in your industry.

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