Interesting news for e-tailers. It seems more than half of Christmas shoppers now look for ‘green’ credentials when choosing online retailers, according to research released by Web host 1&1.

As more of us think about our personal impact on the environment, there has been a surge in demand for greener practices in retail. A significant proportion of British consumers now expect all types of retailer to power their operations with renewable energy.

The survey of 1500 consumers found that a staggering 59% of consumers are more likely to buy if a retailer uses eco-friendly practices such as recycling and using renewable energy. The data reveals that 1 in 4 consumers now expect retailers to use eco-friendly services across their operation as well as recycling and reducing physical waste.

The use of renewable electricity to power a Web site is viewed as important as using less polluting vehicles. The survey reveals that 37% of Britons now expect online retailers to be reducing their environmental impact to the same degree as high-street stores.

While many supermarkets and high-street stores loudly champion their eco-friendly policies, it would appear that consumers now have equivalent expectations for the online retailers they use. 1&1’s ‘Greener Shopping Survey’ reveals that most Christmas shoppers will consider the environment impact of their purchases.

Over half of consumers (59%) now consider a retailer’s use of ‘green’ practices within their buying decision, and nearly three quarters (72%) believe that online retailers have a responsibility to act. While 37% of shoppers expect online retailers to tackle the issue to the same degree as high street stores, one in five say they are more likely to buy from a retailer that explains its carbon usage on its Web site.

Consumers now expect online stores to adopt a wide range of environmentally responsible practices. As well as the more obvious efforts such as recycled packaging (44%) and reduced packaging (43%), and eco friendly vehicles (24%), one in four (24%) of online shoppers seek retailers who use green services across their operation such as renewable electricity.

One in four is more likely to buy from a retailer which powers its Web site and servers with renewable energy, the same proportion that look for the use of eco-friendly vehicles. The use of renewable energy by online retailers is seen by 20% of shoppers as equal in important to the use of recycled packaging.

Interestingly, demand for ‘greener’ retailers appears to vary with gender, with women on average more concerned about retailers’ efforts. For example, 46% of women are more likely to buy from a retailer that uses recycled packaging compared to 36% of men. Significantly, all age groups appear to be equally aware and committed on the issue of green credentials. Londoners are most influenced by eco-friendly practices (70%), while residents of Yorkshire (49%) are by far the least.

The research reveals that while online shopping is undoubtedly a pleasure for many, some shoppers struggle with ‘eco-guilt’ concerning the impact of their online purchases. One in ten Brits admit to weighing-up the environmental cost of each online purchase they make. Levels of guilt on the issue were once again highest in London (13%) and lowest in Yorkshire (3%).

The data lends weight to the theory that online retailers can financially benefit from using more eco-friendly services across their operation. Look out for Web hosting providers that are powered with renewable energy and leverage energy-saving technologies.

Also look out for hosting companies which offer a logo to display on a Web site to indicate that it uses ‘green hosting’. In such a way, consumers can be made aware that an online retailer is committed to lowering their environmental impact from their technical infrastructure upwards.

By implementing more eco-friendly technologies such as green-hosting, it seems smart retailers of any size can tap into the growing ‘eco-shopping’ market.