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It’s 2024. There is simply no excuse not to incorporate sustainable practices into your virtual e-commerce business. 

A staggering 83% of buyers express a preference for brands with better sustainability records. The message is very clear: Being sustainable isn’t just crazy important for Mother Nature; it’s also essential in maximising your business’s sales. 

Writing for Forbes, Zohar Gilad points out that e-commerce sustainability must be commercially viable to work. In simpler terms; for sustainability initiatives to be truly effective, they must align with the business, cater to the buyer’s desires, and be great for the planet. 

Now, what’s the easy fix that seamlessly checks all three boxes? 

Virtual Stores.

But before we dive into how you can use 3D e-commerce to sell more sustainably

What is a virtual store?

POV: You’re panicking. 

You’re jetting off on holiday with your new beau in a couple of days, and you’re frantically throwing everything you own into a Ryan-Air-sized backpack. They won’t notice if it doesn’t close properly, right? You pick up your trusty bikini, but the hem catches on one of your draws. Brzzzp. A look of horror crosses your face. A huge hole has appeared. 

You’ve got a million other things to do before you leave, so there’s no time to go shopping in the town centre. You’ll just have to order one online with next-day delivery. But how do you know if it’ll look good in real life? Aaaaah noooo!

You pull out your laptop. B-i-k-i-n-i…You click on the first link that appears, but it’s no ordinary link. 

Suddenly you’re standing on a Caribbean beach. The waves lap against the golden sand. There are mannequins posed carefully around a tropical beach club adorned in vibrant, bejewelled bikinis. 

With all the bikinis in 3D in front of you, it’s an easy decision: The fuschia one. You even ordera matching fuschia sunhat. And fuschia flip-flops. 

You log off feeling as though you’ve already been on the holiday:

Refreshed

That’s a virtual store: An immersive shopping experience that transports you to a whole new dimension from the comfort of your own home. 

Clearly, virtual stores go above and beyond to meet the desires of the buyers. Far from mundane, they offer an unparalleled blend of convenience and entertainment. 

The ability to visualise a product in 3D provides a valuable sensory experience that’s highly practical. You can feel how a product would feel and look on you or in your space.

So, they’ve won the customer’s tickbox. But what about that of the environment?  

Read more: Why 2024 is the year of the virtual store…

5 reasons virtual stores are eco-friendly

1. They’re paperless

👜✨What’s in my bag?💄💖

My wallet, my smartphone, of course, and, oh wait: Millions upon millions of crumpled, faded receipts. (Guilty!).

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores use a lot of paper for things like receipts, invoices, random brochures and catalogues. 

You might think receipts aren’t a big deal because they’re just tiny pieces of paper, right?

Wrong. Get this: 640,000 tons of receipt paper is demanded annually in the US. That’s the equivalent of 9,600,000 trees per year. 

Yes. 9,600,000 trees. Just for receipts. Per year

Want to know how much paper is used in a virtual store? None. Zero. Nada.

The virtual store eliminates the need for paper usage in a retail setting. Every transaction takes place online, so the only receipts used are e-receipts! 

And it’s not just the trees that paper receipts affect. 

Unfortunately, it’s your expenses as well. 

In a physical store, you’re legally required to provide receipts to customers who request them. In a physical store, providing paper receipts to customers upon request is a legal obligation. So, one of your first expenses is a thermal printer, which can cost anywhere from £100 to £1000 pounds.

Then there’s the ongoing cost of receipt paper, typically £22 per roll. 

What about the printer ink? And the storage space? 

These might seem like small costs, but for an SMB, they add up over time as monthly expenses.  

With a virtual store, you can avoid these costs altogether. 

Better for the environment, better for your business. Do I hear a… Double benefit?

2. Zero energy costs

Let’s keep going. 

Virtual stores only operate in the digital realm

Your virtual store might be full of dramatic water features, but the water bill will be non-existent.

Want to jump on the Aspen trend and set up a ski shop in the mountains? Don’t worry about paying for heating. 

Why not fill your space with thousands of LED lights? No problem. It’s not like you’ll ever see the lighting bill. 

The energy-intensive activities associated with running a physical store don’t exist when it comes to virtual stores. Virtual stores don’t require extensive energy for lighting, heating or cooling. 

You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and business expenses with an immersive 3D space

There’s that double benefit again!

3. No transport emissions

When you go shopping, how do you get there? 

Brick-and-mortar stores are only accessible in one physical location. 

Customers are required to travel to them, whether by bus, train, plane or car. Remember when Kim Kardashian flew to Paris just for a slice of her favourite cheesecake? That’s one giant carbon footprint. 

Virtual stores are accessible at any time from anywhere in the world. There’s no need for your customers to use petrol and fuel to get to your location. 

It’s a far more sustainable way to sell. It dramatically decreases those catastrophic carbon emissions whilst also actually being more convenient. 

What’s that? 

A win for your customers. 

A win for your brand’s reach. And a win for the environment.

4. Fewer Returns

With Odyssey3D Forge, you can upload 3D models of your products into your virtual space.  

So your customers can get a better look at your products and examine them from all angles. This gives them a better idea of how your product might look or feel in their own space. 

But what does this have to do with the environment?

3D models make buyers more confident in their purchasing decisions. They’re far less likely to make a return on a product that they’ve already closely examined in a 360-degree view. 

Reduced returns boost your business’s bottom line and contribute to a more sustainable shopping cycle! 

5. Dynamic Product Showcases

Let’s be real. 

Those incredible window displays in traditional stores are so fun. They’re conversation starters. And they make shopping an experience, especially when they’re changing every couple of weeks.

The problem with these extravagant product displays is the waste they generate when they’re no longer needed. 

Virtual stores give businesses the ability to showcase their products in dynamic 3D environments that can change whenever you wish. Your customers will always be entertained. With absolutely zero waste associated. 

Wrapping up…

So let’s check that list again, shall we?

If you’re looking to sell more sustainably in a consistent way, start with a virtual store.

But how do you do that?  

Odyssey3D is a free Shopify plug-in that seamlessly integrates a 3D virtual experience into your website within seconds. It’s beyond effortless, and yet it will make such a huge impact on your environmental footprint. (In the best way!)

Be sustainable. Be unique. 

It’s 2024. Time to open a virtual store