How Shopify Stores Can Embrace Sustainability

Discover what works and what doesn’t when leveraging sustainability, social impact, and consumer values in a Shopify business strategy.

Special Guests: Adam Siegel; CEO at Recurate, Heleen Devos; Founder at The Extra Smile, Darby Scott; Founder at Darby Scott, Katie Boothby-Kung; Senior Manager of Social Impact at Shopify

On this episode of the Impact Exchange, we're excited to discuss a recent event that we hosted with Recurate-- How Shopify Stores Can Embrace Sustainability. Our Founder and CEO, Ronny Sage, and Adam Siegel, CEO at Recurate, met with members from The Extra Smile, Darby Scott, and Shopify to discuss what works and what doesn't when integrating sustainability and social impact into a business strategy, and how to align with customers' values.

A 360 Approach to Impact

You always hear about brands doing good and making a difference, but what does it really mean to be truly rooted in impact? At ShoppingGives, we believe that there's more to creating positive impact than what meets the eye. We look at impact as your team members, your customers, your community, and your product. Your team members are your frontline advocates for positive social change, and this is where you begin with value alignment. When your team is passionate and excited about your values and the impact that your brand creates, that's what creates an authentic approach to giving back and making a difference.

Next, you look at your customers. What do they support? What are their values? We believe that brands should be advocates for what they believe in, but by listening to your customers and finding a mutual value alignment, you then enable your customers to join the conversation of social change. This not only builds customer loyalty, but it begins to build a community of customers who are engaging with your brand in a more authentic way.

Conscious Consumerism in the Age of Millennials and Gen Z

Customers are at the forefront of any business, and how they perceive your brand plays a pivotal role in their purchasing decisions. In the age of conscious consumerism, Millennials and Gen Z are looking for more sustainable products, and are continuously choosing to shop with purpose-driven brands. As a brand in this era of conscious buyer behavior, it's important to listen to your customers and their interest in sustainability and social impact.

  • Hosting galas and other charitable events is not the only way to create massive positive impact-- it can be created one transaction at a time. Darby Scott has found that customers enjoy the reciprocity of being able to support the causes they care about while making everyday purchases.
  • The Extra Smile has found that sustainable and ethical business practices are creating a positive association for customers when they make a purchase, and they even interpret the quality of the products to be higher because they know what goes into creating them.
  • Shopify has seen that consumers are choosing to shop with brands who make an effort to create positive change because it's a way that customers can help give back to their communities during times of need, when they feel they can't do anything to help.
  • This positive shift in buyer behavior is leading the path for more permanent giving models, and helping brands to truly live by their values.

Sustainability and Impact are Product Benefits Too

As consumers become more aware of the impact that a brand has on society, they are more conscious of where they choose to shop, and what products to purchase. With this conscientiousness often brings hesitation to purchase from an unfamiliar brand for the first time. In talking about clothing, for example, consumer's hesitations could come from the toxins, materials, or chemicals that are needed to produce that item of clothing, but even with sustainable clothing brands, consumers still have hesitations.

  • It's important to reiterate the benefits of your products and your brand, and what makes it stand out from competitors. When consumers are faced with a plethora of sustainable, ethical brands, what makes yours stand out?
  • Brands should be looking to create products that are meant to last to increase the product life cycle and reduce the amount of waste.
  • Patience is key.

Sustainability Goes Beyond The Product

Sustainability is something that can and should be looked at from the entire product lifecycle, from production to end of life. Consumers are growing more interested in the production of products, who is making the products, and what will happen to the product once it no longer has a use. Many brands are taking notice of this, and are either being more transparent about the process of their products, or are shifting gears to integrate more sustainable practices.

  • Shopify has noticed a shift in brands looking at more sustainable and ethical production practices in terms of fair wages, ethical labor practices, and using more sustainable materials.
  • Consumers are also taking notice of the way products are being packaged when they place an online order, and criticizing brands who use too much plastic waste during shipping.
  • At Darby Scott, they carefully choose materials that are meant to last, and easy to care for-- in hopes that the pieces they create will last for several generations.
  • Having plans in place to help reduce emissions and increase the lifecycle of a product will bode well with customers. Solutions like Recurate are making it easy to increase the lifecycle of a product by giving old products a second life.

In addition to engaging your customers with your sustainability and social impact efforts, it's important to get your employees and team members involved too. Having brand values that your employees align with can make your social impact strategy that much more meaningful.

  • At Shopify, sustainability is at the forefront, and employees are encouraged to volunteer and be present in the communities that are important to them.
  • At The Extra Smile, they're always excited to receive applications from people who want to work for a company that is creativing positive impact and tackling the issue of harmful effects of the fashion industry.
  • At Darby Scott, they take a team approach to educating customers about the importance of reducing waste and increasing the lifecycle of their products.

Final Thoughts

With current consumer trends, sustainability and social impact are crucial for any business. Consumers will continue to demand that brands do more than turn a profit, choose brands that are aligned with their values, and ditch those that they do not associate with social good. If you're not sure where to start, take a look at your brand, what it believes in, and what it can do to make a difference.

To gain a full scope of how your eCommerce brand can embrace sustainability and social impact, you can listen to the full webinar below.

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