Modern customers care about social responsibility. They want to support companies that take a stand and do good for society and the environment. Sustainable practices can contribute to a great customer experience, but companies with poor environmental practices can get a black mark on their reputations. Here are three eco-related stories from the week that show what companies are doing (and aren’t doing) to support the environment and serve their customers.
Coke And Pepsi Introduce Paid Water Dispensers
Customers are willing to pay for their favorite soda—but what about water? Coca-Cola and Pepsi have both started introducing water dispensers at college campuses and offices around the country. Customers fill their own containers with their choice of filtered or carbonated water. The goal of the new dispensers is twofold: to help offset slower growth in the companies’ soda businesses and to provide a back-up plan if single-use plastic bottles are banned. Encouraging customers to bring their own containers helps fight against plastic waste, especially in an increasingly concerned global community. The only question is if customers are actually willing to pay for water.
Coke and Pepsi are taking a proactive approach amidst concerns about plastic waste and the environment. Expanding to water dispensers could be a smart move with more people moving away from soda for health and wellness issues. However, charging customers for water that they could easily get for free from public water fountains could push people away and make them feel nickel and dimed. Loyal Coke and Pepsi customers may be willing to pay, however. Coke and Pepsi’s success in the new environment could set the stage for other companies looking to expand to more health-conscious and eco-friendly options.
Push For Fast Shipping Introduces Environmental Issues
Amazon changed the course when it announced free one-day shipping. Target and Walmart then followed suit, with many other online retailers expected to follow. If they want to keep up with the e-commerce giant, they have to offer fast, free shipping. However, the push for fast shipping has introduced new concerns for the environment. One of the benefits of online shopping is that it cuts back on vehicle emissions. However, the annual emissions for deliveries by UPS, USPS and FedEx totals more than the production of 7 million cars—a hefty toll on the already fragile environment. Amazon and Walmart are testing drone deliveries and already have systems for customers to pick up orders from central locations. Other advancements like self-driving cars and electric trucks could also cut down on the impact of the environment.
E-commerce companies need to balance sustainability with providing quality service to customers. In the rush to get orders to customers, many online companies overlook the impact of their shipping practices. Modern customers are concerned about the environment and are more willing to support companies with sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Large companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart need to lead the charge for environmentally friendly shipping to help smaller companies.
Asos Helps Customers Find Eco-Friendly Items
Fashion website Asos is taking a step towards sustainability by adding a search option for eco-friendly items. Customers can now sort for products made of sustainable materials, such as sustainably sourced fabric or recycled materials. These items reuse existing materials and also require less water and energy to be made. Asos has eco-friendly items in all of its clothing categories for both men and women. Customers also have the option to see all of the eco-friendly items in one place on the “Responsible Edit” section of the website. Other fashion retailers have recently introduced similar sustainability initiatives to encourage customers to purchase eco-friendly items.
The move by Asos highlights customers’ preferences for more sustainably produced items. By making those items more easily available, Asos could potentially have a leg up on the competition and create an experience that caters to eco-friendly customers. It could also motivate fashion brands to create more sustainable items in hopes of getting highlighted on the site.
Companies have a responsibility to help the environment and look for sustainable solutions. Eco-friendly companies not only help the world but also help their customers have a better experience.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of two books, “The Customer Of The Future” and “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.