The holiday season has become far more enjoyable for me over the past few years as more retailers have transformed Web sites into viable shopping destinations. I far prefer cozying up to my computer with a cup of coffee in hand in search of deals on Cyber Monday than risking bodily and psychological harm challenging salivating, sleep-deprived bargain hunters at Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
Yes, the information technology has made the shopping experience -- both online and at the mall -- more convenient and all-around enjoyable. Technological innovations have also made the experience greener, saving retailers (and customers) on paper, ink, fuel, packing materials, and such.
[ In the near future, will retailers report the carbon footprint of each item they sell? | Ordering music this holiday season? Downloading tunes isn't always the greenest option. ]
There's still plenty of room for improvement, though. Thus, I'd like to share three of my holiday wishes with the retailers of the world to leverage IT to make the shopping experience greener. These types of changes should translate to cost savings, a reduced carbon footprint, and better customer service for companies. Green has a pleasant tendency to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Stop the flood of catalogs
A friend of mine (whom I'll call Rebecca because she's requested anonymity) lamented on Facebook the other day that she's repeatedly contacted department store chain Macy's over a year ago, via telephone and e-mail, with a simple request: Stop mailing her catalogs. Yet those glossy, full-color mailings keep coming. "I stopped trying about a year ago. I contacted them fourteen times. Literally, fourteen times. And I could never get them to stop. I hate them," Rebecca posted.
I thought to myself, Well, surely this company's Web site has an easy-to-find area where you can quickly opt out of receiving marketing materials. After all, what kind of company would want to waste money on printing and mailing out excess glossy, full-color materials that serve no purpose than to stoke flames of loathing in the hearts of would-be customers?