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How small businesses can build a greener future through sustainable sourcing

(BPT) - Sustainability has been a buzzword in the business world for years, with many businesses looking for different ways to introduce 'green' products to a market that is demanding them.

According to internal data from global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform, Request for Quotations (RFQs) containing terms such as 'sustainable,' 'eco-friendly,' 'biodegradable' and 'renewable' are up 23% year-over-year (YoY). Growth in these inquiries has occurred across industries, including apparel and accessories (61% increase YoY), kids' toys (30% increase YoY) and electronic components (26% increase YoY).

The issue for many businesses, especially smaller ones, is some product markets are becoming oversaturated with sustainable products and setting yourself apart can be difficult. So how can you help your business stand out compared to competitors? It starts with expanding your sustainability efforts beyond the product itself.

Start with sourcing: Sustainable supply chains elevate sustainable products

With the crowded market for sustainable products, small-business owners can set themselves apart by making their entire sourcing operations sustainable. How many times have you placed an order that came in an unnecessary amount of extra packaging that you just ended up throwing away? Is a sustainable product really sustainable if its packaging isn't, or if the supply chain to get it to customers creates considerable pollution? By considering these potential issues and adapting your supply chain to address them, your business can do more than create a sustainable product - it can be a sustainable business.

How can you implement sustainable practices into your supply chain? Turning to online sourcing platforms to help identify sustainable sourcing partners can do a lot of the work for you, including:

  • Simplifying the process of sorting through potential suppliers: B2B e-commerce platforms such as have features that allow you to add search filters to narrow down sourcing options and identify suppliers that fit the specific profile you are looking for.
  • Providing ways for suppliers to verify their sustainable practices: These platforms also provide prospective suppliers with ways to verify their sustainable practices, including listing any certifications or sustainability data that can help you identify the right sourcing partner.
  • Connecting small businesses and suppliers directly: B2B e-commerce platforms help you identify potential sourcing partners, and some platforms like provide you with a direct channel to communicate with suppliers to find your match and begin sourcing sustainably. By connecting directly with suppliers, you can more easily ask about their materials, manufacturing processes and certifications to ensure that they fit the profile you are looking for.

How to tell people about your sustainable business

Crafting your sustainable product line and supply chains is important, but equally important in standing out amongst your competitors is effectively marketing your product and sustainability practices. While tactics might differ based on the types of products you are selling, there are a few key considerations as you go to market your products:

  • Leverage the information your suppliers provide: With all the information that suppliers can provide on B2B e-commerce platforms, you have the information you need to show consumers how your product and business are sustainable. By sharing this information with your customers, you demonstrate transparency around your sourcing practices to help consumers trust that your product is truly sustainable.
  • Make it digestible for the average person: When marketing the sustainability aspect of your product and business, it is important to make sure you are using clear, accessible language that can be understood by all consumers. Your sustainability messaging can only set you apart if your customers understand what it means, and making it accessible can help further build trust with your customers by increasing transparency.
  • Show your customers how your product benefits them: When a customer is making a purchasing decision, their choice ultimately boils down to deciding which product benefits them the most. Make sure that you are marketing your product or business in a way that communicates how the product benefits them both personally and how their purchase means they are making a difference for the environment.

At the end of the day, differentiating your sustainable business from competitors requires you to ensure that your entire operation is sustainable, and communicating your sustainability efforts in a way that your customers can understand. While the physical delivery of sustainable products is important, giving customers the peace of mind that they are making full-circle sustainable choices to help the world is equally crucial to building and maintaining your consumer base.

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