Sustainable eCommerce on the rise in Germany?

One in four Germans deliberately seeks sustainable eCommerce – most pay attention to packaging

Sustainability is one of the most important sociopolitical topics of our times. Consumers increasingly demand that companies follow an eco-friendly approach, ensure sustainable production methods and take social responsibility. This means a great challenge to the eCommerce business, given that online shopping is always connected with complex logistic systems, long shipping routes, high return rates, packaging and other factors that are not really associated with a positive environmental footprint. But in the long run, there is no way around the transition towards a green economy and more sustainable business strategies also in eCommerce. The recently released results of a consumer survey carried out by the German association for eCommerce and the mail-order business bevh in cooperation with Civey show that investing in more sustainable processes also holds a great sales potential for eCommerce players: According to the survey, one in three Germans find it important that online retailers adopt measures for more sustainability and one in four have even decided not order from online shops that did not meet their sustainability expectations in the past. This is what Germans pay most attention to in the context of sustainable eCommerce:

When asked about which sustainability aspects were important to them in eCommerce, most respondents chose sustainable packaging – 43% of Germans find it important that an online shop offers sustainable packaging. Transparency in the product origins and supply chains comes in second, with 41% of respondents finding this aspect important. At some distance, sustainable production, social engagement and transparent production conditions follow – these measures are important to around one third of respondents. Sustainable production is still relevant to 35% of respondents, while production conditions matter to only 30%. Social engagement is in between, with 32% of Germans paying attention to it.

The results of the survey also show that consumers do not only require online retailers to take action for a more sustainable eCommerce, many of them would also accept compromises and cut back on their personal convenience. One in three would for instance return reusable packaging or accept products with tiny flaws. Some would also be okay with longer delivery times. Although one third stated that they would not accept any compromise for the benefit of more sustainability, the trend is still undisputed: The future of German eCommerce needs to be sustainable.

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February 2021