Prioritizing Sustainability at the Point of Purchase

In volumes one and two of our sustainability series, we covered the recent rise in consumer demand for sustainability and how eCommerce companies are counteracting their environmental impact throughout the supply chain amid rapid growth. In volume three, we examine how the “big three” retailers are curating products that prioritize sustainability in order to help consumers make educated purchasing decisions.

While cost is the most common barrier to choosing sustainable goods, it’s closely followed by the lack of awareness of a store’s sustainable offerings. Research shows that 55% of consumers are more likely to purchase a food item if the packaging displays a sustainability claim, but such claims aren’t always enough to combat label fatigue and help an item stand out on the digital shelf.

As environmental concerns continue to influence consumer spending across all segments, a retailer’s ability to take the guesswork out of sustainable shopping is key in increasing conversion rates and cultivating brand loyalty. 

Climate Pledge Friendly

As a continuation of The Climate Pledge (a commitment to be net-zero by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement), Amazon introduced its Climate Pledge Friendly program in 2020 to help customers identify environmentally-friendly products and encourage businesses to pursue sustainable practices. Brands may qualify for the badge through regular reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, implementation of carbon emission elimination strategies, and taking action to neutralize any remaining emissions with credible offsets. In addition to its own dedicated storefront and badge displayed in the product detail page, a Climate Pledge Friendly widget highlights SKUs that would not normally show up on the first page of search results.

Since the program started in 2020, more than 300 companies have signed on and seen results. Certified brands displaying the badge have improved their sales. Data from Flywheel, an Ascential Company, backs this up, showing that ASINs in a top CPG category saw a 15% increase in conversion rate after receiving a CPF badge. Participation is free and brands can request to qualify through Brand Registry.

Target Zero

Target recently introduced the Target Zero initiative as a part of its broader sustainability strategy, using an icon to elevate sustainable brands in stores and online. Shoppers can search hundreds of products by category or sustainability claim. While the initiative is brand-new, Target has been working with brands to determine which products meet the designated requirements and plans to expand the selection. Target is aiming for 100% of its owned brands and limited-edition partnerships to meet its sustainability standards by 2025. By 2030, Target hopes to be the market leader for creating and curating sustainable brands, with circular design in its sights by 2040.

Built for Better

Walmart launched its Built for Better platform in 2021 to highlight healthy and eco-friendly products. All Built for Better products must “meet one or more third-party certification, industry initiatives, or item attributes focused on personal well-being or the natural environment” to qualify for the platform. While initial messaging states that Built for Better icons are in place, they seem to be absent from the product detail page as of the publish date of this article. However, shoppers who know to search for the Built for Better platform can locate sustainable products through the landing page.

Perhaps in lieu of icon implementation, a third Built for Better methodology has been added to the existing Built for Better—For You and Built For Better—For the Planet classifications. Built for Better—For Communities presents items sourced from certified woman-owned or diverse-owned businesses that support local communities.

Now that we’ve covered the recent rise in demand for sustainability, how some manufacturers are incorporating sustainability into every step of their supply chain, and how major retailers are helping environmentally-conscious shoppers find what they need online, we’ll weigh whether or not it will all pay off in the fourth and final volume of our series on sustainability.

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