Top Examples of Sustainable & Eco-Friendly eCommerce Brands, Websites & Content

By Liam Quinn - 12 April, 2021
Liam Quinn 2021

Sustainability is a key word for most businesses big & small right now, this article looks at great examples of innovative ways to bring this into ecommerce.

The climate crisis has been at the forefront of discussion for decades, and has arguably been the world's biggest problem to tackle. While industries across the board have adapted and innovated at different speeds to help tackle climate change, only in recent years have significant efforts been translated into ecommerce strategies. The last year’s COVID disruption has at the same time scaled up the dependence on ecommerce, while highlighting the impact that doing things differently can have on the environment. The underlying message from the last year has been confirmation that retail can’t and won’t go back to exactly how it has always been. On top of that, the importance of businesses pushing to be sustainable, and for their brand/products/customers to be a part of that change has certainly become more of a trend - and hopefully one which continues to grow. These are some of the brands doing sustainability well online, and innovating in interesting ways to do it:   

Toms

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URL 

https://www.toms.com/

Platform 

Salesforce CC

Why we love it

Early players in the sustainable commerce space etc, very well known & well received strategy of donating shoes for each pair bought made the brand take off. Now doing Vegan & Earthwise ranges that include eco-friendly or non-animal based products and processes, fewer chemicals, longer lasting and less energy consuming production.

What they do well

  • The Impact page is pushed strongly on the site and features as a main part of the navigation. And with good reason. Toms became huge with the “one-for-one” offer of a pair of shoes being donated for each pair sold. But any skepticism of this being just a marketing ploy is laid to rest with this page highlighting with clarity why they’re so much more than that. 

  • PLP Badging is nicely done across the site, labelling the key impact point per shoe - whether that is Vegan friendly, Recycled or Earthwise materials etc.

  • Brand positioning is the other strong point. To be frank, the site isn’t amazing. But scroll through just about any part and you’ll instantly see or know you’re looking at the Toms brand. 

Patagonia

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URL

https://www.patagonia.com/

Platform

Salesforce CC

Why we love it

Probably the benchmark in sustainable clothing brands. I’ve been obsessed with Patagonia for awhile now because of their brand values and authenticity to them (and highly recommend [Let my people go fishing] for an insight into that). Their online offering is a great example of bringing the brand values and storytelling into an ecom store.

What they do well

  • Latest Stories. I’m often not a great fan of Blog’s being too prominent across an ecom site. Great if it’s relevant, but when it’s an afterthought for SEO it can come across that way. But these are genuinely interesting stories of adventure and activism from across the world, that have absolutely no upsell intention but showcase how the brand is being used and who by. 

  • Without picking the Activism page on every example, this is the yardstick. The depth of content, and the breadth of impact showcased here could be a blogpost in itself. More than just a page of impressive statistics, this is live coverage of the ongoing action for the community to feel directly involved in. 

  • OK a technical one to round it up, beside the content & brand positioning (but still linked to community engagement) the Yotpo reviews & UGC piece is at least in my Top 3 implementations of the platform.

PANGAIA

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URL

https://thepangaia.com/

Platform 

Shopify

Why we love it

A bit biased this one, as a client we’ve worked closely with. But having exploded as a fashion trend over the last year, and with truly game changing science behind the materials and processes being used for the products, it’s difficult not to be a fan! 

What they do well

  • The brand is very much led by bright and striking colours. So the seamless integration of colour ranges across the site as a shopping journey is very strong.

  • Shopify’s native gift card functionality is pretty basic. Using Rise.ai is a good way to enhance the limited functionality, and Pangaia’s e-gift card implementation is possibly the best example of this I've seen. 

  • OK one more shout for Impact content. But on this occasion, I really like how it is positioned throughout the user journey, for example each product displaying it’s specific impact against equivalents on emissions, drinking water and landfill.

Bite Toothpaste

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URL 

https://bitetoothpastebits.com/

Platform

Shopify

Why we love it 

It’s a pretty revolutionary product, that has the potential to reduce plastic waste by a huge amount. It makes a pretty unsexy concept incredibly sexy, through beautiful and considered UX across the site. 

What they do well

  • UX. The look & feel of this site is pretty close to perfect throughout. The animation & engaging features really makes the brand & products stand out.

  • I’m a big fan of really considered upsells from the push-cart, that are based on what you’ve added to cart so far. These pushcart upsells are super engaging.

  • One of the key sustainable features of this brand is the packaging, and lack of plastic. This is integrated into ecommerce really nicely through the subscription model, which is first supplied in indefinitely reusable glass packaging - before following months being delivered and recyclable paper envelopes in order to refill.

Tropic Skincare

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URL

https://tropicskincare.com/

Platform

Shopify

Why we love it

This would be the second slightly biased selection in the mix, having worked with the Tropic in developing their online store. Lord Sugar took notice in Susie’s vision on TV’s The Apprentice to part with his investment, and the organic/vegan/cruelty free/responsibly sourced approach to skincare & cosmetics has led to the brand going from strength to strength from there. 

What they do well

  • Product Finder’s are one of my favourite recent trends being used in ecommerce sites. Providing a nice user journey to customers that are new to the brand and may not know what they’re looking for. Nice example of that being used here. 

  • Similarly to the above, builders/configurators that allow products to be customised to the buyers specific requirements are a great growing trend. The Tropic Palette Builder looks great and is super simple to use to fill with exactly the products you want.

  • Refillable trays (reusable element throughout) One of the sustainable themes for this brand is the reusability offered across products. The Palette can be reused by detachable inner trays, which can be sent back and refilled after use - with promotions based on sending back X amount for refills.

Chillys Bottles

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URL

https://www.chillysbottles.com/

Platform

CommerceLayer

Why we love it

The simple ones are often the best, and Chillys bottles have surely revolutionised the act of drinking water more than anything since the invention of the water cooler? I don’t go anywhere without mine, and it’s lasted ages, so I feel like I'm doing my bit everyday. Previously a Shopify Headless build, before switching to use CommerceLayer - there is a strong tech stack behind this store and it really shows. 

What they do well

  • The bottle customiser has long been one of if not my favourite example of a product builder. Really clear & easy to use, looks beautiful and works perfectly smoothly. 

  • Brand positioning Chillys stood out and became everyone’s favourite water bottles because of the cool brand positioning and colour. This really comes across onsite, with lots of character - and stepping back to allow all the colour come from brilliant product photography. 

  • The Chillys “Refreshed” scheme is a great little initiative brought into the site, for when customers fancy a change of colour or design. A simple return process through the site to ensure your old bottle is given a new home.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the above - or anything around sustainability or ecommerce - so feel free to email me at [email protected]

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