Carbon Neutral Shopify store

Creating A Carbon Neutral Shopify Business

By Cat • May 19, 2021

Conscious consumerism is on the up! The online retail industry is finally waking up to the scary truth of the carbon crisis. How is Shopify taking action to help its merchants be part of the solution?

We've reached a bit of a tipping point when it comes to ecommerce. We all want to enjoy the convenience and choice of shopping from home, and the fact we aren't driving to physical stores on the high street means we are reducing some emissions, right?

Not always. Society is wising up to the need for more sustainability in the online shopping world. We simply cannot keep consuming, shipping and returning at the rate we currently are!

Because of this, many are looking to make a positive change through more mindful purchase decisions. And because of this, it's crucial that retailers look to successfully place their businesses at the forefront of this trend towards eco friendly and ethical practices.

Shopify is leading by example when it comes to sustainability within its ecosystem of merchants and technical partners. It provides a $5 million sustainability fund annually, and runs an entirely carbon-neutral business operation. They're doing more than talk the talk...

How can merchants and apps hosted on the Shopify platform work alongside existing solutions and integrations to make sure that they’re reducing the impact they have on our planet and its changing climate? This article will get you thinking about how you could start out on your own journey towards carbon neutrality with Shopify...

Don't Get Upset. Reduce & Offset.

Should ecommerce retailers be offsetting their impact? In a word – absolutely! As businesses, we all have an impact on the climate around us — and it's adding up to a real emergency. As well as mitigating and reducing the impact we create to start with, offsetting is, (although not the only thing you should be doing), part of the solution.

We can't claim ignorance at this point. There's really no way anyone can have missed the headlines. It's time to stop thinking "someday" and start making a real, tangible impact – NOW! As individuals, businesses and more broadly, as a society.

Beyond the fact that change is needed and more urgent by the day, ignoring your carbon emissions could actually start to hit you in the pocket. Carbon taxes are coming and these will need to be borne in mind in the future, especially to those who are selling cross-border.

Conscious consumerism is here to stay. Showing your brand’s dedication to real sustainability can have a big impact on retention, loyalty and AOV (repeat customers buy more!). As sustainability moves to the forefront of shoppers’ motivations, it will become a big part of how to position your Shopify store through marketing in the future.

If you’re still not won over, we are not above using a bit of peer pressure to swing things! It’s increasingly the new normal in our ecommerce world, with even the big players of ecommerce making changes. In February, Amazon announced an intention to go completely emissions-free on 50% of all shipments by 2030 (although they still evidently need to make some big changes!)

Etsy has also said that it will offset 100% of its carbon emissions generated by shipping. Given they claim 98% of its total emissions come from items shipped from sellers to buyers, this could make a big difference. ASOS recently signed a new contract with DPD which requires 50% of deliveries within the London Ultra Low Emission Zone to be served by electric delivery vehicles.

Shopify's Role in a Greener Ecommerce Future

As we’ve previously discussed, Shopify has often shown that the carbon crisis is a big priority for it as a company. From significant investment, data centres being decommissioned and replaced by Google Cloud, offsetting of all travel and office-related emissions, and a CEO who got one over on “Treelon Musk” when it comes to planting trees, they’re out there doing the work.

But beyond these public-facing shows of dedication to a greener future, Shopify is also working on integrations that have the potential to help merchants on their own paths towards carbon neutrality.

Learn more about Shopify’s suitability for brands with ethical practice and sustainability at their heart in this recent report from Kollectify.

The Two Shopify Apps That Can Help Make Your Ecommerce Store Greener – Today!

  1. Shop App

Although it was positioned as a new application, Shop actually evolved from Arrive (which also helped to reduce carbon emissions by minimising the number of missed parcels and driving down the number of repeated delivery attempts required.)

In January 2020, a World Economic Forum report estimated that emissions from last-mile deliveries would rise by more than 30% in 10 years — up to 25 million tonnes each year. Missed deliveries really add up! Further to this, the Shop app supports and helps local businesses, making curbside collection easier and greatly reducing the impact of “last mile” delivery as a result.

Perhaps even more significantly, when paying for online orders via Shop Pay, customers are guaranteed that Shopify will calculate and offset the carbon emissions that the delivery of their chosen item will generate.

  1. Offset App

For those retailers looking to really take the reins when it comes to their emissions, Offset offers insight (via a user-friendly dashboard) and a monthly calculation of the amount needed to neutralise the carbon cost of your operation.

Each month, Offset adds this offsetting cost to your Shopify bill. You can cancel whenever you like, but things are kept affordable — usually around $0.005 to $0.10 per order.

It's also important to remember that no carbon offsetting is created equal. By partnering with Pachama, Shopify can keep offsetting prices low, thanks to efficient economies of scale.

Another nice feature of Offset is the clear stats that brands can access for promotional purposes. From the total amount of shipping emissions offset, to any environmental impact benefits (e.g. how many trees you've paid to plant). This is a great way of telling the story of your brand's values, as part of an ongoing ethical marketing strategy.

Find out more about how Shopify is proving the perfect fit for ethical brands.

What if you're a Shopify app developer?

There are several ways that third party app developers can work towards improving offsetting practices within the Shopify ecosystem. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started and thinking!

  1. Tell your customers what's out there! Encourage the use of Shopify’s in-house offsetting solutions when working directly with merchants, and help them to do this efficiently alongside the solutions you offer.

  2. Collaborate! Consider initiating partnerships with carbon offsetting apps. Many of these exist in addition to the in-house offering we've covered in this article (and could be an interesting consideration for collaborative content marketing).

  3. Big up your own carbon status. Push for carbon-neutral (or even carbon positive) status. Get on board with organisations such as Pachama and support the work that they do. But remember to measure, reduce, then offset the rest. Don't just rely on offsetting - it isn't enough.

Save the planet, win big.

Framing carbon neutrality as a business opportunity feels a bit wrong. First and foremost, it's a necessity for the future of our planet.

But, brands and apps that lead the way here stand to gain the most.

At MindfulCommerce we’re completely committed to championing a greener future for ecommerce. But don’t just take our word for it. Shopify itself is sending a very clear message when it comes to the huge potential of sustainable ecommerce. We’ll finish with a few words from Shopify’s Director of Sustainability, Stacy Kauk:

“There is so much room for differentiation here, even if you're new to the sustainability world.  There’s a lot of attention in this field, and not a lot of action yet. That’s why there is a massive amount of opportunity here.”

Join our free, friendly and engaged community of likeminded retailers who can help support your journey towards carbon neutrality!