Nudging greener product choices in eCommerce

Show notes

Over-consumption is killing our environment. It's a fact. We need circular economies, we need involved cradle-to-cradle principles, we need more social sustainability (fair trade, fair rights, ethical production) and ecological sustainability.

How can that look like in an online shop?

In this podcast episode you get 3 advice for 💚 Greener product discovery 💚 Greener product selection 💚 Greener product information

Mentioned links

👉 Green UX/UI Design course is opening it's doors on April 20.

👉 Creative UX for Nature workshop happening on April 20. Sign up at no cost.

Love, Sandy


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Show transcript

Welcome, everyone, to today's episode of the Green Web podcast. It's a podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. As always, I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a UX UI designer myself.

In this episode today we will talk about greener product choices in e-commerce. Quite specific I know. And before we start, I want to celebrate with you because I'm sharing the biggest news that I've ever shared with Green Web. I guess because my Green UX UI design course is opening its doors on Thursday, April 20th, 2023. So there it is. Finally it's coming and it's actually opening its doors. And to celebrate, I'm hosting a workshop on Creative UX for Nature on April 20th. It's about connecting with nature in UX design. My best tips on lightweight design as well as bringing environmentally positive features into your digital products and overcoming objections from colleagues and clients. You can easily sign up on my website for it with your email address. It doesn't cost anything. The link is down below for all the details on the workshop and I'm really keen on seeing you there and exchanging ideas and thoughts about all of those things that I just said. And what we are talking about today is actually a part of the first of all of the workshop as well as of the Green UX UI design course because it's an incremental part of it thinking about how can we change things in a more ecologically sustainable way in UX UI design of course also means in online shops and e-commerce in general, overconsumption is killing our environment. It's a fact, it seems quite harsh, but it is a fact and we need circular economies. We need cradle to cradle principles. We need more social sustainability like fair trade, fair rights, ethical production. We need ecological sustainability in e-commerce as well. So the question is how can that look like in an online shop? For that we will go into three different topics one being product discovery, the second one product selection and the third one product information. And I will share three advice for each of those categories if you want. So first one is product discovery and of course there's many, many more advice, but I want to share three with you that you can immediately think about how to introduce it to your digital products in e-commerce online shops. So product discovery, the first advice would be grant higher position in search results for greener products. So really factor in sustainability into your search algorithm. Give products that are tagged as green a higher position in the search results. Of course you can have all kinds of categories. It could be green, it could be Fairtrade, it could be ethical, it could be all kinds of different things. And even within ecological sustainability, you can go much, much deeper and we will get to that in another advice advice that I'm sharing. But yeah, just tag your products and give them a higher position in the search results on the product overview pages on the home page, just everywhere where you have some kind of overview of products, highlight the sustainability infused products. My second advice in product discovery is highlight greener products with icons, make it visual that it's a greener product, it's an ecologically sustainable product and even being specific about what's green about it. So give your sustainable products an extra notch with visual support, highlight greener options in the search listings and product overviews and display icons that represent environmental credentials next to each of the product like on the product image down below the product title wherever you want it to be displayed. And then you can also integrate an info tip that opens a modal with a tap or click on the label and the info tip offers a simple explanation of the planet friendly strategy that's behind this icon and the products planet friendly aspects and proof of certification, stuff like that. And then a little link to more details on this. Specific label that you gave this product. There is plenty of online shops who do that already. One is Zalando, one is Pact, one is Patagonia, one is Green Choice. There's so many different ones and they all do it in a slightly different way. So just check them out and see what they are doing and how they are doing it. And then my third advice in the product discovery area is integrate filter options for sustainability criteria, enable users to filter products by green choices and all kinds of green criteria include these criteria in the search filters alongside conventional filters such as price and star rating and all of those things that we already know and just have some kind of sustainability filters in there as well. To make it obvious that there are products that are more sustainable, but also to educate people that it is actually a criteria you can have a look into when buying online or when buying in general, and you can use criteria such as recycled and organic and designed for circularity, cradle to cradle, CO2 savings, vegan energy efficient. There are so many things you can have as criteria that is not just sustainable or not sustainable. So you can go really, really deep with it. You can even add in criteria that possibly isn't even considered to be environmental, such as locally made, length of warranty or country of origin. Those are things that might not be considered immediately as something sustainable, but it definitely, definitely is. So implementing them as well does make a lot of sense. You can increase the impact of these filters by making them more prominent relative to some other filters on the page or even by setting the eco friendly filters to be switched on by default. So there is many options coming with filter options for sustainability criteria just to name let's say two different shops that I know. For example, avocado store uses criteria such as carbon dioxide savings, cradle to cradle made in Germany, recycled and recyclable resource saving and a couple of other criteria that they are using in their filter options. And then Globetrotter uses even two different categories for sustainability, standard criteria and environmental info criteria. And then they have all kinds of different, more in-depth criteria underneath those two different categories. So they even split it up to make more room for sustainability. Awesome. So let's check out the second area product selection. So it's about, okay, I know that there is different kinds of products now I need to select the product that I want to view and have more details on. My first advice is recommend Sustainable alternatives. So when customers view a non sustainable product, recommend a sustainable equivalent if there is any communicate in what criteria this product is a more sustainable option and why it's important. A simple statement like organic farming helps predict wildlife farm workers, Our groundwater your family from harmful chemicals might be quite long but still can potentially incentivize people to switch products, integrate a simple switch to organic or something in this area button next to the product to encourage users even more. Like make it really simple. If there is a more sustainable or a less sustainable product choice. My second advice in the product selection category is allow the choice of packaged and non packaged product. Of course there is a lot of logistics behind it, so it's not feasible for everyone. But if it's feasible then the shops products could be available in a package and not packaged way. It ensures to have both options for like the user's preferences, but making it an option to have a not packaged product. You can display that on a product overview and on the product detail pages. So there's plenty of room to share this information. And for example, the home and body care brand Tangie offers their shampoo bars in a packaged and non packaged way. It's an. Online shop that I actually was honored to design in the last year. And the choice is really simple with a switch on the product detail page whether the product should be shipped in a non packaged way or with a packaging. And then my third advice in the product selection category is communicate sustainability features on wish lists on checkouts. Unlike those general pages that you collect all kinds of different products in and emphasize sustainable products in general pages that you can have different categories, different lists for sustainable as well as not sustainable products and show it make it prominent display icons and badges to highlight them visually, possibly even add a separation between sustainable and not sustainable products. It makes it more obvious in those wish list or checkout overviews of what we've collected and then to deselect the ones possibly even more that are not sustainable and giving the user a more of a selective process into that. And then let's move on. The third area of greener product choices, which is about product information. And there is definitely so many ideas that I have for it, but I still want to share like three of the main ones. The first one would be communicate energy and carbon footprints of the products to actually communicating the reduced energy or carbon emissions in a comprehensible way using relative statements such as the life cycle. Emissions from this purchase are equivalent to driving 63 miles with a car or this product uses 20% less energy than an average shirt, something like that to gain and show accurate, credible and verifiable product sustainability data. There is even software out there such as Green Story or Loon that enable online shops to do that and to have those comparisons ready. So there are opportunities to do that in a feasible and easy way. You can also do your own math. Tangie, again, the online shop I designed for last year, they use a comparison such as you eliminate six plastic bottles with each shampoo bar to ensure people can grasp the effect of their doings because a shampoo bar does save a lot of plastic bottles. And to make that easy and transferable of okay, this is how much I will save and have a positive impact on the environment. There is other online shops like Triarchy shows saved drinking water, saved driving emissions and saved bulb energy equivalence to have this daily life comparison of their clothing compared to water emissions and energy. Let's move on to my advice. Number two in the product information area, it is communicate a sustainable usage of the product because of course one thing is that it is a sustainable product. But how can I have the most benefit of it in the long term? So provide information about product care, wash explanations, food durability guides to keeping food fresh for longer, and just all kinds of more information on how to ensure the use of those of those products long term. This also includes offering tips to assess how much food users throw away each week and how to reduce waste through smarter shopping when it comes to food, to clothing, to all kinds of electronics and everything that there is, we can have information about product care. So let's introduce it there. As I said, just put it there for washing instructions directly on the product pages so new customers can see how easy it is to wash and continue using their products long term. It's the same with let's let's pick again the shampoo bars and having a full explanation of how to use a shampoo bar with drying it correctly so you don't waste the shampoo bar and just like a wet container and to have it for a lot longer, you need to know that already when buying it because you probably or the user probably has questions in his or her head. So directly address that on the product page. And then the last advice in the product information category is to go even further and include an end of life description. So of course there is certain products who don't need that like unpaid. Packaged shampoo bars, they just will be dissolved. But there is certainly products who have an end of life and we need to know what to do with them at that point. So integrate information about how to recycle or return the the bought product when it's not usable anymore. Of course it's even better if you have some kind of return system so the users can actually send back their clothing or their all kinds of products that are having or bought from you. So you can do stuff with it in a correct way. Thinking again in circular economies and Cradle to Cradle and all of that stuff. But if you don't have something like that, just share information of how to recycle it, even how to repair things, how to return things, what to do with the products for example, Hello Fresh it's a food boxes delivery company. They explain how to recycle or reuse every single packaging item that they are sending in each box. It's reusing the cooler bags of just using them as cooler bags in the summer, composing the packaging or also watering plants with the water in the ice packs. So they give you ideas. Of course, in the end you can do it totally different and do something else with the water and the ice packs, but they give you those ideas of what to do with every single packaging item. So just to go through it again, we had product discovery, we had product selection, we had product information and those are just a few out of many ideas.

You can hear more about a couple of other ideas in my Creative UX for Nature Workshop that that will be happening on April 20th as well as in the Green UX UI design course that is finally opening up as well on April 20th. So sign up. All the links are down below with full details, full curriculum and so much more. I'm so excited for it. I really am. So I hope to see you there. See you in the workshop as well as maybe even in the course. I would be really happy to meet you there.

And other than that, subscribe to the podcast. Share this episode with friends and colleagues who do design e-commerce solutions and need to know more about greener product choices in their online shops. Just sharing it with others is a really cool way to support me and this podcast. It's also a cool way to give the the podcast a five star rating or a review on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify. It's just a chance to tell me what you love about the show and it helps others to discover it too. And I'm always really excited to read about your experiences and aha moments with the podcast and yeah, just follow along on Instagram at Green, the web on LinkedIn at Green, the Web, check out the free resources on my website. Spread the joy of sustainable design because it's a beautiful design topic an area and then see you in the next episode in two weeks time when the green design course is actually open for enrollment already. So see you then.

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