Four in five consumers concerned by environmental impact of online shopping

Most shoppers (86 percent) want information on the green credentials of products before they make a purchase

The majority of consumers across all demographics are concerned about the environmental impact of online shopping, according to new research. The survey of over 1,000 British shoppers, which was conducted by omnichannel marketing and customer experience consultancy CPM, found that 83 percent of people worry that online shopping is unsustainable.

Almost all of Gen-Z – those born between 1997 and 2012 – feel concerned (96 percent) by the impact that online shopping has on the planet. Even among the least concerned demographic, over 55s, almost three quarters (73 percent) have issues with unsustainable practices tied to online shopping.

The most common concerns about the environmental cost of online shopping are waste generated by excessive packaging (32 percent), emissions from increased number of delivery vehicles (22 percent), and goods being manufactured in places with poor environmental credentials (20 percent).

Shoppers are also unhappy with fast fashion and the disposable nature of products (19 percent) and the increasingly common practice of making excessive returns due to wrong or unneeded purchases (18 percent).

The survey also indicates that brands are falling short when it comes to transparency and messaging. Most shoppers (86 percent) believe that brands should do more to publish the environmental details of their products. Shoppers want this information to be available wherever they may be buying, including on the brand’s website (27 percent), on the product’s packaging (25 percent), on the product’s online listing (24 percent), and near the in-store point of purchase (22 percent).

With brands failing to lead on messaging, consumers look for hints to determine whether a brand is operating sustainably. The most common things that cause consumers to question a brand’s environmental credentials are poor quality or easily broken products (28 percent), excessive packaging (27 percent), the use of non-environmentally friendly materials (25 percent), and poor reviews from fellow customers (25 percent).

Negative press (23 percent) and word of mouth (20 percent) also contribute to people’s views on a brand’s sustainability.

Colin Clark, Managing Director, CPM International Contact Centre, says: “Our data has a clear message for retailers: consumers want to shop online, but they also want to know that the process has a minimal environmental impact. There’s a lot more that brands can do to clarify the measures they’re taking to make their products and operations sustainable.

“Brands that are doing a good job on sustainability need to be shouting about it from the rooftops, and the key is providing customers with the right information at every touchpoint. Shoppers want transparency, and they’re likely to spend a little more if they’re confident a brand and their supply chain partners are doing their part for the planet.

“More can also be done to ensure that the buying decision is right first time, every time, especially when it comes to more complex, high-value purchases. This limits the risk of additional shopping trips, returns, or need to raise multiple orders, all of which can add to a brand’s environmental impact. Simply by having more engaging, personalised conversations with consumers about their specific buying needs, whether in-store or through digital channels, brands can simultaneously enhance the customer experience and their sustainability.”

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