Despite the advertised organic cotton and circular economy, when looking at the entire range of fashion providers, the question often arises of how sustainable the measures taken actually are. To find out, the eCommerce Competence Center at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions has a Study on sustainability in online fashion retail and evaluated the activities of around 50 textile brands and fashion retailers.
Online fashion retail: looking for an ecological image
The number of customers who have the lowest possible value for their purchase Carbon footprint want to leave behind is increasing continuously. This also applies to online shopping, as evidenced by the steadily increasing Google search queries with the keywords “sustainability” and “sustainable fashion”. That is why more and more fashion manufacturers and online fashion retailers are trying to give themselves an ecological image.
34 percent of the textile brands examined rely on their own logos and slogans, which signal the customer’s environmental commitment and are intended to make the sustainable product range recognizable. However, these are very different Meaningfulness about sustainability of the products as there is no official certification. In contrast, the study provides an overview of the quality seals that are issued by associations and organizations, and how much transparency they allow the customer. It also analyzes which ecological standards are associated with it and what proportion these seals have in the industry.
Sustainable online shops and fashion products
The fact that sustainability has long since arrived in e-commerce is also reflected in the Structure of the online shops contrary. According to the study, the topic is already an integral part of the navigation of two out of three of the fashion brands examined – albeit often with subordinate relevance. Just under every fourth fashion company places an increased focus on sustainability in web shop communication and accordingly places the topic on the first navigation level.
In more than 60 percent of the cases, however, the idea of sustainability fades into the background when it comes to product presentation, which is mainly due to the low share of the range. The same applies to sustainability as a filter criterion, which has so far only been offered by 30 percent of the companies examined. However, specially labeled product images and descriptions help the customer to quickly identify and find sustainable products.
“On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that there are enormous differences in the density of information that companies share with their customers. The statements range from greenwashing phrases such as ‘This is a sustainable product’ to detailed material and manufacturing descriptions, ”explains Franziska Kier, Head of the eCommerce Competence Center at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions.
Online fashion retail: pent-up demand for sustainable product ranges
Even if the fashion companies are very proficient in communicating their sustainability measures, there is still a lot of catching up to do with the range. After all, it is Share of the sustainable range in almost every second company still below five percent. Only nine percent have a sustainable range of more than 25 percent, although very few items are officially certified.
Most fashion brands rely on organic cotton and recycled polyester fibers and also try to use innovative and environmentally friendly fibers in production. According to the study, the majority of them have included at least one of these materials in their range.
Focus on alternative exploitation strategies
Alternative exploitation strategies have also gained in importance in this context. While the end customer used to simply dispose of his old clothes in the container, the trend today is clearly heading in the direction Re-commerce. “Classic retailers and brands such as Zalando and H&M have also jumped on the bandwagon and offer their customers appropriate take-back options. At the same time, so-called fashion-as-a-service models have become established in e-commerce that follow the idea of the sharing economy and lend out clothing, ”explains Franziska Kier.
But not only the production and disposal of the textiles, but also the logistics offer great potential for realizing the sustainability concept. For this reason, the study also examined the use of “green” options by CEP service providers and packaging, which so far have only been used to a limited extent. “In addition to the fashion companies, the consumers are of course also responsible. But the young generation in particular, who push the topic of sustainability extremely, is still very ambivalent here – this is demonstrated by the success of the textile discounter Primark, which offers fast fashion at extremely low prices, ”concludes Franziska Kier.
Arvato Supply Chain Solutions is a service provider in the field of supply chain management and e-commerce. With the help of the latest digital technologies, Arvato develops, operates and optimizes complex and global supply chains and e-commerce platforms, making it a strategic growth partner for customers. Arvato combines people’s know-how with the right technologies and suitable business processes, thereby increasing customer productivity and performance. (sg)
Also read: Sustainable purchasing and the corona crisis: How companies pay attention to social aspects