Close this search box.

(800) 931-4267

AMS Fulfillment logo in green text

The Importance & Benefits of Sustainable Fulfillment

Make Your Order Fulfillment Processes Greener

sustainable fulfillment - AMS Fulfillment

“Go green” is more than a buzzword. These days, going green is a vital part of the business. Especially when you are a consumer-facing business – but also in B2B – being environmentally aware and eco-friendly can make or break new orders. People today are aware of and care about the environment, and many eco-friendly shoppers will do research into your company before placing an order.

Everything from your products to your order fulfillment process and packaging to your delivery strategy needs to have a thread of sustainability running through it to compete in today’s environment. So how can you implement better sustainable fulfillment practices?

What Is Sustainable Fulfillment?

When thinking about sustainable order fulfillment, it is important to think about how you can lessen the environmental impact of your packaging. The wasteful nature of order fulfillment is not limited to operations of a massive scale – even small businesses can have an impact on sustainable fulfillment methods.

Nearly one-third of all garbage in homes comes from packaging, according to the EPA. Eco-friendly is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of sustainable eCommerce packaging, but that’s not all it encompasses. The sustainability of your package design depends not only on environmental factors but also on social and economic ones. Consider the financial and emotional toll placed on your staff by a time-consuming process like order fulfillment. Plus, environmentally friendly eCommerce packaging must still be cost-effective and functional.

Factors for Sustainable Fulfillment Processes

For long-term success, the key to order fulfillment is efficiency. Reducing wasteful steps in the packaging and shipping process for order fulfillment will help you save time, money, and goodwill.

Sustainable Packaging

When thinking about how to fulfill orders sustainably, it’s important to take into account the environmental impact of the packaging you use. When more packaging is used to protect a product than is necessary, this is known as over-packaging. We’ve all been consumers who had to sift through multiple layers of packaging just to get to the product. The unfortunate reality of shopping online is that this is often just what you get.

Sustainable eCommerce packaging strategies are widely underutilized, despite growing awareness of the problem. It is only natural for online retailers to take every precaution necessary to ensure their customers’ purchases arrive in pristine condition. In most cases, however, this means more packaging time and expense when it comes to shipping out orders. This leads to more trash being thrown away from packaging but usually doesn’t improve its protective qualities much.

If you are using recyclable or compostable materials, be sure to clearly state on your packaging how it can be recycled or composted, or if there are any other special instructions for its disposal.

Sustainable Warehouses

There are many ways to reduce energy use and promote sustainability in warehouses and distribution centers. Warehouses typically utilize hundreds of lights. Lighting fixtures that use less energy, such as LED bulbs, can be installed in buildings. Lighting can be controlled with motion detectors. Dial-up calculations can help facilities determine what kind of lighting is required in a given space, which could allow for a lowering of the minimum necessary light level.

There are also opportunities to install waterless urinals, fill water bottles, and use low-flow plumbing. Xeriscaping, or low- or no-water landscaping, also contributes to environmental friendliness.

Sustainable Transportation

Split deliveries should be avoided. If you keep track of your stock, you can fulfill an order without having to send items from multiple warehouses. Less packaging means less material used, less fuel used transporting goods, and less money spent overall.

Lessen the impact of transportation on the environment by streamlining your shipping processes. It is common knowledge that reducing carbon emissions from vehicles is one of the best ways to lessen one’s environmental impact. Route optimization, capacity utilization, and better vehicle scheduling and management are just a few examples of how transportation management can help reduce environmental impact.

Improved fuel economy and reduced environmental impact can also be achieved through the use of anti-idling technology, cab wind fairing kits, lightweight aluminum wheels, trailers equipped with side skirts and e-track systems for load bars, and super-single tires.

Why Sustainable Order Fulfillment Matters

eco friendly packaging - AMS Fulfillment

The packaging you use and the order fulfillment processes you employ affect how consumers view the brand. Packaging design is frequently overlooked, despite its central role in fulfilling customers’ orders. Historically, it has been assumed that the consumer is responsible for any wasteful or non-recyclable packaging. Usually, this is due to the packaging being too cumbersome to open or unsuitable for recycling. The overall impression that your brand leaves with consumers will be affected by all of these elements.  

If customers have to spend too much time or effort disposing of packaging, they may get the impression that the company behind the brand doesn’t care much about the quality of their delivery process. Customers want to know that their loyalty is appreciated by the companies they buy from. If you don’t care if your packaging is inconvenient for your customers, that won’t bode well for your brand.

Consumers are more concerned than ever before about environmental impact. Today’s increasingly educated public is keenly aware of the dangers of things like plastic pollution and unnecessary packaging. Customer’s choices are being affected in a quantifiable way as a result. Almost half of American consumers are now making eco-friendly decisions when shopping, according to market research firm Nielsen. Additional polling shows that 81% of consumers believe that companies should do more to help preserve the environment.

When it comes to sustainability, consumers of all backgrounds and education levels can learn something from sustainable eCommerce packaging. That’s the clearest sign that a company cares about the environment. McKinsey found that consumers are most willing to pay a “green premium” for environmentally friendly packaging.

With more and more customers showing a preference for eco-friendly businesses, a sustainable fulfillment strategy can help you stand out from the competition. Your eCommerce platform may be able to help you, as you can offer carbon-neutral payment methods or add a few cents for more eco-friendly shipping. Your fulfillment provider can help further, with eco-friendly packaging and processes.

At AMS Fulfillment, we are a B Corporation, which means that we care about the environment. You can count on us to do the right thing for the community and the environment, as well as for the bottom line. When you choose to work with us, you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your inventory will be in good hands throughout the entire shipping process.

Is Sustainable Fulfillment Expensive?

Unfortunately, “sustainable” has come to mean “expensive” in the minds of many. In most cases, the exact opposite is true. It’s common for companies to find that their current method of order fulfillment is more expensive than it needs to be. If you streamline your approach, you can save money in the long run by reducing expenses in many different areas.

When discussing sustainability, “cost” refers to more than just monetary value. The potential benefits to the company, such as increased brand awareness or access to a new demographic of consumers interested in purchasing from green companies, should not be overlooked. Eco-friendly order fulfillment methods are, therefore, a crucial asset to your eCommerce store’s success.

How to Move Toward Sustainable Fulfillment Cost-Effectively

custom branded packaging - AMS Fulfillment

Don't Use Too Much Packaging

To “over-package” means to use more packaging than is required to keep a product safe. As might be expected, this is a common issue in the online retail sector. Consider whether the current level of packaging is necessary before making any changes to the current design. You might be able to reduce your consumption significantly! Even if the extra filler or boxes don’t seem like a big deal individually, they can add up over time.

If you get rid of this, you’ll not only save money and cut down on wasteful packaging, but you’ll also have an easier time fulfilling orders. Reducing the amount of time it takes to assemble each package makes for a more viable long-term packaging strategy.

Figure Out if Boxes are Required to Ship Orders

A brown cardboard box is now synonymous with online shopping thanks to online marketplaces like Amazon. They may not be required for every order placed online, though. Shipping mailers offer a more manageable and affordable option for businesses that deal in smaller items and/or take fewer orders at a time.

They’ll help you save money on shipping expenses thanks to their reduced size compared to standard cardboard boxes. If you decide you do need boxes, it’s important to get the right size so that you aren’t using too many filler materials.

Reduce the Use of Plastic

Plastic pollution has emerged as a major problem for our planet’s ecosystem because the rate at which we produce new plastics is so much faster than the rate at which they can naturally degrade or be recycled. National Geographic reports that only 9 percent of all plastic produced has been recycled. The remainder is now present in our ecosystems, including oceans, forests, and even our food supply.

When your company avoids contributing to this issue, it does a huge favor for the planet. In particular, soft plastics, such as shrinkwrap, are harmful because they cannot be recycled. Consumers may not have easy access to recycling centers where it is typically dropped off. Order fulfillment strategies that involve soft plastic can be easily modified.

Use More Renewable Materials

Packaging made from renewable resources, such as paper and cardboard, is your best bet when it comes to environmental friendliness and online retail. It can be recycled and reused frequently, and it’s not hard to find. It’s also very adaptable, as it can be used for a wide variety of packaging components, including containers, filler, and paper.

Encourage Your Customers to Reuse, Recycle, or Compost

Most packaging is made to be used only once, which is why it contributes so heavily to waste. Shipping containers and their inner packaging are considered useless once they have arrived at their destination.

What this means is that the cycle of production, consumption, and disposal is depicted as a straight line. This is unsustainable as it leads to ever-increasing amounts of trash. To combat this, your company can use packaging materials that customers can recycle or reuse.

As an example, including custom-branded packaging or tote bags with each order is a fun way to add value while also meeting a real need for your customers. Using recyclable or compostable materials is also an option, and you can explain how to dispose of it to your customers with an insert in the package.

Why Should I Switch to Sustainable Fulfillment?

Faster. Cheaper. Greener.

During the epidemic, last-mile delivery went through an unexpected transformation, becoming more environmentally friendly. As more and more people shopped online once the supply chain resumed normalcy, the ecosystem quickly adapted. There was a shift away from traditional retail stores to fulfillment centers. A retail store shipping option and curbside pickup service emerged.

The pandemic’s positive effects on sustainability were unintended. The time has come to take deliberate action toward optimizing the final stretch of a journey for speed, economy, and sustainability. Everyone involved in the final leg of a shipment’s journey, from postal and parcel services to retailers and delivery firms to governments and consumers, has reached a critical juncture. If people choose to work together, a faster, cheaper, and greener final mile can be established.

Find a Partner in Sustainability at AMS Fulfillment

sustainable packaging - AMS Fulfillment

When you are looking for a sustainability partner who cares about your business, your customers, and the environment, look no further than AMS Fulfillment. Our experienced eCommerce teams can help you develop the right strategy to offer a more environmentally friendly solution to your customers.

With warehouses on both sides of the country, we can help cut down on delivery distances, improving the impact of transportation of your orders on the environment. We can help you find better packaging solutions – to reduce waste, offer recyclable or compostable materials, and keep your customers happier with safe, secure item delivery.

If you’re ready to find a sustainable fulfillment solution, Contact Us!

Recent Posts:
Sign up for our Newsletter