Why do eCommerce brands now need to include sustainable practices within their next 3PL tender?

For many years, corporate sustainability has centred around the ideologies and techniques of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), often associated with charity work and donations. However, the conversation around CSR has moved on, and today sustainability is firmly on the table.

With rapidly changing consumer perceptions, combined with the UK’s Government’s 2050 net-zero ambition, we’re increasingly witnessing the shift towards sustainability within corporate strategy.

At its most superficial level, many organisations are introducing reuse and recycle practices within their operations, but this will not be enough, and brands not embracing sustainability with open arms risk being left behind.

Why is sustainability important for today’s eCommerce brands?

While often mistakenly considered the younger, less influential audience, today, millenials have overtaken the boomer demographics to become the most engaged consumer segment. And hot on the millennial agenda is sustainability and ethics. Ranging from 25 to 40 year-olds, Millennials are not only the largest consumer segment, but they also have the most disposable income.

Additionally with 53% claiming that they’d forgo purchasing from a favoured brand to buy more environmentally-friendly products, their opinions on sustainability matter.

This is one of the many reasons big brands are beginning to take notice. Apple committed to being 100% carbon neutral by 2030. Meanwhile, Adidas has committed to sustainable products and supply chain. The impact of this will continue to foster the generation of conscious consumers, with brands succeeding to promote sustainable practices being rewarded with brand loyalty for the long term.

How can your 3PL Logistics partner support your sustainability strategy?

When thinking about sustainability within your supply chain, you’ll likely be thinking about sustainable sourcing and eco-products. However, third-party logistics is an equally important component for creating a sustainable practice.

  1. Ethical practices and sustainable processes
    At the simplest level, it’s important to work with like-minded partners who share your values, and your 3PL partner should be no different. From an ethical and reputational risk perspective, it’s essential you work with a 3PL partner who is committed to ethical and sustainable working practices. Additionally, providers who embrace sustainable processes continue to have less impact on the environment and less wastage going into landfills. You’ll also benefit from significant efficiencies and more competitive pricing as a customer, so don’t be fooled; sustainable processes don’t always mean more expensive.

    Top Tip: Look for a 3PL logistics provider committed to sustainable processes and opts to be independently audited by organisations such as Fast Forward.

  2. Ensure product sustainability and reduce waste
    It’s not uncommon for stock to arrive damaged after transit, but that doesn’t mean your products should go into landfills. The more sustainable and often cost-effective option is to repair faulty products. Quality Control inspections and remedial services should be integral to any eCommerce fulfilment process.

    Top Tip: In addition to saving you money, a reliable QC process also builds brand loyalty and repeat purchases by ensuring your customers receive perfect products every time.

  3. Reduce your brands’ carbon footprint by reducing your returns

    It’s estimated 20-30% of eCommerce orders are returned, which in turn increases a brand’s carbon footprint. But there is light at the end of the tunnel as some of the main reasons for customer returns are substandard fulfilment resulting in delayed deliveries, or worse, the wrong item received. This means that by having well-optimised fulfilment processes and a reliable 3PL partner, you can be confident that you can reduce your volume of returns.

    Top Tip: Further reduce your brand’s carbon footprint by processing your returns and eCommerce fulfilment under the same roof, reducing unnecessary transportation.

  4. Recyclable packaging
    Last but not least, utilising recyclable packaging and reducing plastic use will be a crucial consideration for all brands in the near future. With consumers taking an active role in reducing their use of plastic in favour of recyclable goods, brands need to be aligned. When choosing your packaging, it’s essential to keep this in mind.

    Top Tip: When choosing a 3PL logistics provider, selecting a partner who can provide a range of packaging options, including custom packaging, is a must-have for growing brands.

So, whether you’re reviewing your existing 3PL provider, or preparing your next tender, ensure sustainability is firmly on your list.

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Gary Rees

Gary Rees

Gary Rees is the owner of Synergy Retail Support, one of the leading SME fulfilment centres in the UK. Having successfully grown the business for over 30 years and with relationships with most household brands, he now looks to partner with customers rather than just act as a supplier so that both parties can grow together. Gary has extensive knowledge in retail compliance, production technologies, shipping details and customer service.

Feel free to contact me personally if you’d like to discuss your business.

01604 412 290