Virtual shops can expect real returns on their green investments according to a new study that found that having a green-powered website may be a deciding factor when selecting which retailer to purchase from.
While the success of brick-and-mortar retailers with various environmental goals such as the Body Shop and Whole Foods Market is indisputable, 78 percent of consumers say that the environmental practices of online shops are also important to them, according to web host 1&1 Internet's (www.1and1.com) "SMB Green Study," released this week in association with Wired Magazine and Vision Critical.
The study polled 543 US adults finding that more than 60 percent of people admit to being swayed to purchase from an online shop if the website identifies itself as using green energy, reflecting consumer demand for companies to take their green efforts to use greener service providers, whether by choosing to run their websites from a green data center or by powering their servers on renewable energy. Over 70 percent of consumers surveyed believed that using a green service provider is an acceptable way to put forth a 'green' image.
"Committing to minimizing their impact on the environment has a clear commercial advantage for all types of retailers," 1&1 chief executive officer Oliver Mauss said in a statement. "By offering green web hosting at no extra cost, 1&1 offers an easy way for any website to run on green power." 1&1's green hosting efforts save carbon emissions of more than 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
The research also showed that two-thirds (more accurately, 67 percent) of US consumers are frequent online shoppers, making web purchases more than twice a month, presenting a lucrative opportunity for many people setting up shop on the Internet, whose opportunities could increase if they choose a green web host.
While many web hosting providers have also become aware of this trend, there are still many roadblocks to implementing green data centers. For instance, when 1&1 built its first data center in the US, due to state power regulation, it was unable to directly plug into renewable energy. To remain environmentally responsible, however, the company decided to offset all of its power usage by purchasing REC's from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (www.b-e-f.org), which will go toward renewable energy projects and watershed ecosystem restoration.
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