26. Feb 2024

Seven tips for a more sustainable e-commerce tech stack

More and more consumers expect the online retailers of their choice to live up to their social and environmental responsibilities. One lever that should not be neglected is a sustainable e-commerce tech stack that keeps energy consumption and therefore the carbon footprint low. We have put together seven measures to achieve this.

Gescher, February 20, 2024. An average “standard” online order delivered to the door caused an average of 1,421 g of CO2 equivalents in 2021, calculated the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI on behalf of bevh.

calculated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI on behalf of bevh

. This corresponds to approximately nine times the emissions of a passenger kilometer traveled in a combustion engine car, i.e. the kilometers traveled multiplied by the number of passengers. In addition to packaging and logistics, the digital infrastructure is also an important lever for improving sustainability in online retail. The authors of the study assume that their share of total emissions is between 5.5 and 25 percent.

However, this figure also includes the IT infrastructure of consumers – and their share is higher than that of retailers. Nevertheless, online retailers can also reduce their ecological footprint even further by making their own e-commerce tech stack as sustainable as possible. Manuel Ludvigsen-Diekmann, CTO of the e-commerce service provider Shopmacher, has compiled seven points that online retailers need to bear in mind.

1. use cloud providers

With a cloud-based IT infrastructure, many users work on a shared infrastructure. Each individual only uses the power they actually need. This means that the hardware is used efficiently and overcapacity is avoided.

2. choose energy-efficient servers

Cooperate with hosting providers that rely on energy-efficient servers and renewable energy sources to minimize the ecological footprint. These providers invest in modern server hardware that meets the latest energy efficiency standards and work with energy-efficient processors and optimized cooling technology, among other things. The positioning of data centers in locations with favourable climatic conditions or the use of energy-saving lighting also improves energy efficiency.

3. focus on composable structures

Even the latest tech stack will eventually get old or need to be scaled up. In terms of the environment, it is better if the entire infrastructure does not have to be replaced, but systems are made up of independent and interoperable modules. In this way, individual elements can be easily replaced without having to overhaul the entire system.

4. pay attention to sustainable web design

The Internet has become one of the biggest power guzzlers in the world. Retailers can use this tool to find out how high the CO2 emissions of their own online store are. The good news is that sustainable web design can significantly reduce electricity consumption and CO2 emissions when using an online store. The first premise is “Mobile First”, as surfing via mobile devices is significantly more resource-efficient than on a desktop PC. Avoiding unnecessary elements, graphics, animations and especially videos also shortens loading times and saves energy. An optimal UX gets online visitors to their destination faster, saving page views and CO2.

5. implement an efficient content delivery network

A CDN distributes static resources such as images, stylesheets and JavaScript files on servers located in different geographical regions around the world. This places these resources closer to the end user, reducing latency and speeding up loading times. By distributing static resources across different servers, the load on the origin servers is reduced. The workload is better distributed, which makes more efficient use of the servers and reduces the need for additional server capacity. In addition, CDNs implement powerful caching mechanisms that ensure that resources are stored temporarily once they have been accessed. Repeated requests for the same resources do not have to go back to the origin server each time, which reduces data traffic and minimizes energy consumption.

6. recycle obsolete hardware

Avoid electronic waste by recycling old appliances properly. Functional hardware can also be donated. Many non-profit organizations, schools or charitable projects can benefit from functioning hardware.

7. communicate your sustainability efforts

Many consumers are now paying more attention to whether the companies they buy from take measures to protect the environment. You may be able to win these customers if you make your sustainability efforts visible. At the same time, you can also motivate your customers to make environmentally conscious purchases, for example by pointing out under videos what carbon footprint a click on the video leaves behind.

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