Are you still unsure if sustainability is the right investment for your retail store?
Whether you like it or not, introducing sustainability into your retail business is no longer a requirement. However, with a growing number of consumers and employees becoming socially conscious, sustainability is becoming inevitable.
A study by Forrester Consulting says that over a third of brands are planning to establish long-term relationships and distance themselves from partners unwilling to meet sustainability standards. Fifty percent of consumers around the globe are willing to buy from a brand with a clear commitment to sustainability.
Brands have started to pick pace. Here are some statistics around sustainability in the retail sector:
- · 40 percent of the brands are investing in using sustainable packaging
- · 60 percent are making efforts to create products that align with their company values, which focus on a green/social impact
- · 35 percent of the brands are investing in establishing long-term sustainability targets.
- · 41 percent of brands are planning to be transparent about their vision, goals, and progress around sustainability to win customer trust
How to Make Your Retail Business More Sustainable?
Going green is much more than conserving energy. Retailers must take the opportunity to connect with their customers and take the necessary steps to go green with smaller steps if they can’t do anything aggressive right away.
Here are some practical ways for retailers to grapple with the concept of sustainability:
1. Reduce Packaging Waste
Retailers can reduce the amount of packaging waste by using recyclable and biodegradable materials. Additionally, retailers can consider using minimal packaging or eliminating packaging altogether, where possible.
2 Minimize Inventory
Approximately 13% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to the supply chain can be attributed to warehouses. These large concrete structures consume energy for heating, cooling, and lighting and emit GHGs based on the energy sources used in the region (e.g., green or coal).
In the past, firms needed large warehouses to store inventory as a distribution center due to difficulty in accurately forecasting demand. However, advancements in big data, behavioral analytics, deep learning models, and solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for inventory control allow companies to predict demand more accurately, reducing the need for large warehouses.
3 Energy Efficiency
Retailers can reduce their energy consumption by using energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems. Installing smart technology such as occupancy sensors, lighting control systems, and programmable thermostats can also help reduce energy waste.
4 Use Renewable Energy Sources
Retailers can use renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power to reduce their carbon footprint. This helps the environment and reduces energy costs in the long run.
5 Support Local and Ethical Brands
Retailers can support local and ethical brands that prioritize sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. This helps create a demand for sustainable products and encourages other brands to follow suit.
6 Implement Recycling Programs
Retailers can implement recycling programs for their stores’ paper, plastic, and other materials. This helps reduce waste and sends a message to customers about the retailer’s commitment to sustainability.
7 Be Transparent
Customers around the globe are advocating for sustainability. Consider this an opportunity and be among those brands that are vocal about their commitment to sustainability.
It may appear that you are tooting your own horns, but customers want to know. Why? Because they would like to support a business that cares about the community, the environment, and the future of generations to come.
8 Create a Buy-Back Program
Conscious consumers like vintage or second-hand products for two reasons. First: buying pre-used clothes reduces the environmental impact of the purchase. Second: second-hand clothes are affordable.
Not all retailers can infuse second-hand business models into existing ones, but there are always ways to follow a sustainable retail strategy. One such example is introducing a “buy-back program.” You will accept returns on previously bought items for reselling, repairing, and recycling purposes.
9 Raise Employee Awareness
Retailers can encourage their employees to be mindful of sustainability by providing training and resources. Employees can also be encouraged to adopt environmentally friendly practices, such as turning off lights and using public transportation.
10 Reduce Carbon Footprint in Shipping and Logistics
Research shows that 42% of consumers consider a brand’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint a crucial factor in its purchasing decision. This explains why 35% of brands plan to invest in sustainability initiatives such as measuring and tracking emissions, while 24% plan to offset emissions.
To achieve this, retailers must implement green delivery methods such as electric vehicles, scooters, and bicycles, and use parcel lockers or third-party logistics centers to enhance the sustainability of their order fulfillment process.
In conclusion, retailers are responsible for adopting sustainable practices that help protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. By implementing these practical ways, retailers can help the environment, improve their brand image, and meet consumer demands.