Hagemann, H.Sustainability ranking online shops 2017 – How well consumers are informed about products

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Helmut Hagemann

Release date:
December 2017

Institute for ecological economic research IÖW, discussion paper 68/17

Product-related consumer information supports consumers' information and orientation, also with regard to the sustainability of goods, and helps them to make decisions when choosing more or less sustainable offers. Thus, they are a core function of the retail trade when it comes to the sustainability of its activities.

With the growing importance of the Internet, online commerce has not only become an increasingly important source of consumer goods, but also a primary source of information for the public. A good quality of product information, as defined in the Environmental Product Information Guide in E-Commerce by the German Federal Environmental Ministry and the Federal Environmental Agency, presents therefore a current challenge.

The study at hand takes a step towards the monitoring of e-commerce and examines the sustainability relevant product information at the most important online shops from among the top 100 web shops in Germany as well as the largest eco-shops, based on a total of 4,400 product offerings.

The survey shows that e-commerce as a whole has very little information on the sustainability aspects of its product range, with the exception of some shops that clearly move towards a more transparent product range. In contrast, the environmental qualities of eco-online shops are usually relatively easy to recognize and thus largely meeting their own requirements.

This ranking builds on experiences from pilot projects of the Environmental Ministry and the Environmental Agency and aims to advance a monitoring process that supports official quality standards.

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