13 Examples of Sustainable Ecommerce

A recent survey of 6,000 consumers in North America, Europe, and Asia found that 80% of participants felt it was “important or extremely important” for companies to design environmentally conscious products. Moreover, 72% said they buy more environmentally friendly products than five years ago, and 81% said they expected to purchase more over the next five years.

Ecommerce merchants can court this changing shopper base and create a positive impact by making their businesses more sustainable. Consider posting a statement about your focus on ethical and sustainable practices on the “About Us” page. Reduce packaging, shift to an eco-friendly shipping program, and create an optional carbon offset charge at checkout. Develop recycling policies and channels to resell your used merchandise. And partner with brands that have ethical and sustainable models.

Here is a list of sustainable ecommerce sites, for inspiration. These sites create change through environmental, economic, and social action and awareness.

Worn Wear – Patagonia

Home page of Worn Wear - PatagoniaHome page of Worn Wear - Patagonia

Worn Wear – Patagonia

Worn Wear is an online store for used Patagonia clothing. Customers can trade in used Patagonia clothing and receive credit for a used or new Patagonia item. Worn Wear is a way that customers can partner with Patagonia to extend the life of those products. Most items are cleaned using CO2 technology, saving water and energy (compared to conventional methods) and capturing microfibers.

Rêve En Vert

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Rêve En Vert

Rêve En Vert is a luxury retail platform for sustainable and ethical goods. It sources the most ethical materials possible, emphasizing low-environmental impact and longevity. Alongside its retail offering, the editorial and community sections of Rêve En Vert explore the sustainable options of collective humanity.

4ocean

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4ocean

4ocean is committed to ending the ocean plastic crisis. Its ecommerce shop sells jewelry, apparel, and reusable items to support its mission. Every 4ocean product comes with a “One Pound Promise” to pull one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines. While its full-time crews remove debris, it also educates people to end the dependence on single-use plastic.

Shades of Green

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Shades of Green

Shades of Green is committed to creating healthier living spaces by sourcing and selling only non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products, offering green design consultation, and providing the latest information on green building products and practices. The company’s evaluation system offers customers smart choices and real value through honest and transparent details. Every product on its website is eco-friendly, with a green score from 1 to 5. Each product description contains information on why it’s recommended, as well as reviews from users

Our Commonplace

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Our Commonplace

Our Commonplace is an ethical and sustainable marketplace for women’s fashion wear. Its mission is to help consumers shop ethically and sustainably. Each product displays the corresponding value icons: Ethical, Sustainable, Cruelty-Free, Woman-Owned, BIPOC-Owned (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and Toxic-Free. Shoppers benefit from product knowledge, transparency, and a better way to shop to help the world.

Pela

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Pela

Pela develops products from environmentally-sensible materials, with a mission to create a waste-free future. Pela offers biodegradable iPhone and iPad cases, smartwatch bands, sunglasses, and accessories. In addition, Pela works to streamline transportation and improve manufacturing efficiencies. And Pela offsets its entire carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits.

EarthHero

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EarthHero

EarthHero is an eco-friendly online marketplace to make buying responsibly second nature. Partner brands are chosen because they’re helping to create a more sustainable future. Each product displays the corresponding logos to tell shoppers why it’s sustainable. Logos fall under Low Impact, Organic Content, Recycled Content, Renewable Resource, Responsible, and Upcycled Content. Product pages also detail sustainability features and specifications, as well as info about the brand partner.

Green Toys

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Green Toys

Green Toys is a provider of environmentally and socially responsible toys and tableware for children. It uses 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and manufactures all its products in the U.S., diverting materials from landfills and reducing its carbon footprint. For packaging, Green Toys uses recycled material with soy ink that biodegrades four times faster than petroleum-based.

Simple Switch

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Simple Switch.

Simple Switch is a marketplace for apparel, household items, food and drink, and travel and outdoor goods. Partner companies have committed to improving livelihoods, protecting the earth, and empowering people to change our future. In addition to shopping by product or partner, customers can also shop by impact, filtering products by certifications (e.g., climate neutral, Forest Stewardship Council), social impacts (e.g., fights human trafficking, supports education), and environmental impacts (e.g., innovative environmental materials, renewable energy).

Thrive Market

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Thrive Market

Thrive Market is an online grocery membership site that features ethical and sustainable goods, carbon-neutral shipping, zero-waste warehouses, and recyclable-compostable packaging. Upon signup, members select their most important values or causes, such as animal welfare, sustainable sourcing, fair trade, carbon impact, organic, and regenerative agriculture. Every annual membership to Thrive Market sponsors a free one for a family in need.

Ten Thousand Villages

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Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages has a mission to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to its markets. Ten Thousand Villages’ model puts the maker first, giving artisans opportunities to gain a safety net of financial stability and escape the cycle of poverty through transparent price agreements, interest-free microfinance investment, payment before export, and more. On each product page, shoppers can access the maker’s story, along with a link to more items by the maker.

Ethica

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Ethica

Ethica is an online retailer to learn about ethical fashion, discover emerging designers, and shop a high-style selection of ethical and sustainable labels. Its goal is to connect consumers and companies that share a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Ethica uses eco-friendly packaging and carbon-neutral shipping.

The Responsible Shop – Verishop

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The Responsible Shop – Verishop

The Responsible Shop is a store within Verishop, an aggregator for independent brands and designers of home decor, fashion, and beauty products. In The Responsible Shop, shoppers can filter products via “Shop By Cause,” which includes Clean Beauty, Conscious, Cruelty-Free, Fair Trade, Organic, Philanthropic, Responsible, Sustainable, Upcycled, and Vegan.

Solving CLS Issues In A Next.js-Powered E-Commerce Website (Case Study)

Fairprice is one of the largest online grocery stores in Singapore. We are continuously looking out for areas of opportunities to improve the user’s online shopping experience. Performance is one of the core aspects to ensure our users are having a delightful user experience irrespective of their devices or network connection.

There are many key performance indicators (KPI) that measure different points during the lifecycle of the web page (such as TTFB, domInteractiveand onload), but these metrics don’t reflect how the end-user experiences the page.

We wanted to use a few KPIs which correspond closely to the actual experience of the end-users so we know that if any of those KPIs are not performing well, then it will be directly impacting the end-user experience. We found out user-centric performance metrics to be the perfect fit for this purpose.

There are many user-centric performance metrics to measure different points in a page’s life cycle such as FCP, LCP, FID, CLS, and so on. For this case study, we are mainly going to focus on CLS.

CLS measures the total score of all unexpected layout shifts happening between when the page starts loading and till it is unloaded.

Therefore having a low CLS value for a page ensures there are no random layout shifts causing user frustration. Barry Pollard has written an excellent in-depth article about CLS.

How We Discovered CLS Issue In Our Product Page

We use Lighthouse and WebPagetest as our synthetic testing tools for performance to measure CLS. We also use the web-vitals library to measure CLS for real users. Apart from that, we check the Google Search Console Core Web Vitals Report section to get an idea of any potential CLS issues in any of our pages. While exploring the report section, we found many URLs from the product detail page had more than 0.1 CLS value hinting there is some major layout shift event happening there.

Debugging CLS Issue Using Different Tools

Now that we know that there is a CLS issue on the product detail page, the next step was to identify which element was causing it. At first, we decided to run some tests using synthetic testing tools.

So we ran the lighthouse to check if it could find any element which could be triggering a major layout shift, it reported CLS to .004 which is quite low.

The Lighthouse report page has a diagnostic section. That also did not show any element causing a high CLS value.

Then we ran WebpageTest and decided to check the filmstrip view:

We find this feature very helpful since we can find out which element at which point in time caused the layout to shift. But when we run the test to see if any layout shifts are highlighted, there wasn’t anything contributing to the huge LCS:

The quirk with CLS is that it records individual layout shift scores during the entire lifespan of the page and adds them.

Note: How CLS is measured has been changed since June 2021.

Since Lighthouse and WebpageTest couldn’t detect any element that triggered a major layout shift which means it was happening after the initial page load possibly due to some user action. So we decided to use Web Vitals Google Chrome extension since it can record CLS on a page while the user is interacting with it. After performing different actions we found the layout shift score is getting increased when the user uses the image magnify feature.

I have also created a PR to the original repo so that other developers using this library can get rid of the CLS issue.

The Impact Of The Change

After the code was deployed to production, the CLS was fixed on the product details page and the number of pages impacted with CLS was reduced by 98%:

Since we used transform, it also helped to make the image magnify a smoother experience to the users.

Note: Paul Irish has written an excellent article on this topic.

Other Key Changes We Made For CLS

There are also some other issues we faced through many pages in our website which contribute to CLS. Let’s go through those elements and components and see how we tried to mitigate layout shifts arising from them.

  • Web-fonts:
    We have noticed that late loading of fonts causes user frustrations since the content flashes and it also causes some amount of layout shifts. To minimize this we have done few changes:

    • We have self-hosted the fonts instead of loading from 3rd party CDN.
    • We preload the fonts.
    • We use font-display optional.
  • Images:
    Missing height or width value in the image causes the element after the image to shift once the image is loaded. This ends up becoming a major contributor to CLS. Since we are using Next.js, we took advantage of the built-in image component called next/images. This component incorporates several image-related best practices. It is built on top of <img> HTML tag and can help to improve LCP and CLS. I highly recommend reading this RFC to find out the key features and advantages of using it.

  • Infinite Scroll:
    On our website, product listing pages have infinite scrolling. So initially, when users scroll to the bottom of the page they see a footer for a fraction of seconds before the next set of data is loaded, this causes layout shifts. To solve this we took few steps:

    • We call the API to load data even before the user reaches the absolute bottom of the list.
    • We have reserved enough space for the loading state and we show product skeletons during the loading status. So now when the user scrolls, they don’t see the footer for a fraction of seconds while the products are getting loaded.

Addy Osmani has written a detailed article on this approach which I highly recommend checking.

Key Takeaways

  • While Lighthouse and WebpageTest help to discover performance issues happening till page load, they can’t detect performance issues after page load.
  • Web Vitals extensions can detect CLS changes triggered by user interactions so if a page has a high CLS value but Lighthouse or WebpageTest reports low CLS then the Web Vitals extension can help to pinpoint the issue.
  • Google Search Console data is based on real users’ data so that also can point to potential perf issues happening at any point in the life cycle of a page. Once an issue is detected and fixed, checking the report section again can help verify the effectiveness of the performance fix. The changes are reflected within days in the web vitals report section.

Final Thoughts

While CLS issues are comparatively harder to debug, using a combination of different tools till page load (Lighthouse, WebPageTest) and Web Vitals extension (after page load) can help us pinpoint the issue. It is also one of the metrics which is going through lots of active development to cover a wide range of scenarios and this means that how it is measured is going to be changed in the future. We are following https://web.dev/evolving-cls/ to know about any upcoming changes.

As for us, we are continuously working to improve other Core Web Vitals too. Recently, we have implemented responsive image preload and started serving images in WebP format which helped us to reduce 75% of image payload, reduce LCP by 62%, and Speed Index by 24%. You can read more details of optimization for improving LCP and Speed Index or follow our engineering blog to know about other exciting work we are doing.

We would like to thank Alex Castle for helping us debug the CLS issue on the product page and solve the quirks in the next/images implementation.

Ecommerce Product Releases: October 17, 2021

Here is a list of product releases and updates for mid-October from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on email marketing, digital payments, subscription tools, social commerce, Amazon integration, WooCommerce, and live video shopping.

Got an ecommerce product release? Email releases@practicalecommerce.com.

Ecommerce Product Releases

HubSpot launches new payments service. HubSpot, the customer relationship management and inbound marketing platform, has announced the launch of its open beta for HubSpot Payments. Built natively as part of the HubSpot CRM platform, HubSpot Payments helps companies accept payments seamlessly in less time and with fewer tools. HubSpot Payments supports all major credit cards and ACH and features payment links, recurring payments for memberships, and native integration with HubSpot’s quotes feature in Sales Hub. To help customers get up and running, HubSpot is waiving fees on the first $50,000 of ACH transactions.

Home page of HubSpot PaymentsHome page of HubSpot Payments

HubSpot Payments

CedCommerce launches Amazon integration for Shopify merchants. CedCommerce has launched “Amazon by CedCommerce” for Shopify merchants to create and synchronize listings between Shopify and Amazon. The release follows Shopify’s recent closure of its Amazon-selling app. Sellers can get the benefits of the Amazon by CedCommerce app, free of any subscription cost, through December 31, 2021.

Lightspeed completes the acquisition of Ecwid. Lightspeed Commerce, an ecommerce and point-of-sale provider, has completed the acquisition of Ecwid, the global ecommerce platform. Once integrated, Lightspeed and Ecwid will help merchants reach shoppers on social media and digital marketplaces. Ecwid recently announced a partnership with TikTok to help shape the future of buying on the social media platform. The partnership will also help Lightspeed’s merchants access the core functions of TikTok For Business Ads Manager.

GhostRetail unveils live-video shopping platform. GhostRetail has emerged from stealth mode to launch a 1:1 live video shopping platform that simulates online an in-store experience. The white-label platform is for enterprise retailers and direct-to-consumer merchants looking to augment their in-store and ecommerce sales channels with personalized live video co-shopping. Multiple Fortune 500 brands — American Eagle, Authentic Brands Group, Canada Goose, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, others — now use the platform ahead of the holiday shopping season.

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GhostRetail

Shopify launches Global ERP Program. Shopify is launching a global ERP program, allowing select enterprise resource planning (ERP) partners to build direct integrations into the Shopify App Store. Shopify is partnering with leading ERP providers, including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Oracle NetSuite, Infor, Acumatica, and Brightpearl, with more to come. Through the program, merchants can now access a suite of certified apps directly integrated with Shopify. The global ERP program provides partners with support from Shopify’s engineering team in building their apps.

GoDaddy’s point of sale now integrates with WooCommerce. GoDaddy launched its point of sale hardware last month. Now the POS is integrated with WooCommerce to make in-person payments quick and simple. The integration eliminates the need for multiple logins across platforms to manage a store, cuts down on training time, and helps stores launch in-person payments quickly and affordably. Businesses using WooCommerce via GoDaddy can add the POS offerings from their GoDaddy Payments Hub and start selling in-person. Developers can build WooCommerce websites with GoDaddy, and GoDaddy Payments will automatically appear in their WordPress admin dashboard.

BigCommerce announces integration with Chargify to deliver subscription management services. BigCommerce has announced a new native integration with Chargify, a billing and subscription management platform. In collaboration with developer Ebizio, the Chargify integration provides BigCommerce’s B2B and B2C merchants with the ability to manage, track, and analyze subscription activity. With a one-click install, merchants can sell their products on subscription directly through their BigCommerce store. Merchants can also quickly introduce subscription options to their customers without costly development work.

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Chargify

Poshmark unveils new ecommerce innovations. Poshmark, a social marketplace for new and secondhand fashion items, has launched My Shoppers, a clienteling feature that mimics an in-store retail associate, suggesting relevant products and personal styling based on what a shopper is browsing or liking. Poshmark also introduced Closet Insights, a dynamic dashboard that provides sellers with real-time inventory and sales data. Closet Insights allows sellers to understand sales performance over time to inform strategy.

ActiveCampaign expands automations with custom objects and integrations. ActiveCampaign, an email marketing and customer-experience platform, now enables businesses to build automations using custom objects. With custom objects, companies of all sizes can trigger automations from unique data specific to their business. ActiveCampaign customers can integrate the 1:1 automation with their best-loved tools. For example, a new opportunity in Salesforce could generate a series of internal alerts or tasks, trigger an onboarding message sequence, and send a message to the contact within the opportunity. A live entertainment venue that sells tickets through Eventbrite could create an “Events” custom object through that integration, enabling it to manage types of events, tickets, attendees, dates, and more.

GetResponse introduces Free Forever. GetResponse, an email marketing platform, is now offering a free plan, following the launch of its new website builder this year. With the free plan, businesses use a drag-and-drop creator to build emails, build and host one landing page, connect their domain or choose a free one, and receive lead-generation tools, such as newsletter templates and signup forms. Participants can also access premium features for 30 days at no cost.

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GetResponse