How to Make Your Store More Sustainable (Aside From Going Paperless) - Image by mehrunissa from PixabayThe trend towards sustainability seems inevitable. There are two good reasons for businesses to move to sustainable business practices.

Many consumers pursue fulfilment by supporting environment-friendly retailers. Therefore, sustainability can help you to connect with your potential customers better.

Secondly, investments in green-business startups and innovation are expected to reach $3.4 trillion by 2030.

While a zero-net energy store may not be entirely feasible right now, there are minor measures you can take. This article will shed light on how to make your physical retail store more sustainable, as well as showcase real-life examples of success in sustainability.

Many consumers pursue fulfilment by supporting environment-friendly retailers. Therefore, sustainability can help you to connect with your potential customers better. While a zero-net energy store may not be entirely feasible right now, there are minor measures you can take.

This article will shed light on how to make your physical retail store more sustainable, as well as showcase real-life examples of success in sustainability.

Why to invest in sustainable retailing?

In addition to making a positive change for the environment, a sustainable practice model support and increase business success.

More customers prefer to shop at stores that embrace sustainable or transparent business methods. According to a Deloitte poll conducted in 2021, one in every three consumers stopped purchasing from specific companies due to ethical and sustainability concerns.

The environmental impact is critical in purchasing decisions, especially among younger buyers. According to CGS’s survey, 68% of the respondents (18 to 24 years old) made an eco-friendly purchase decision during the preceding year. In addition, a Forrester Consulting study found that 44% of worldwide consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with a clear commitment to sustainability.

It is apparent that consumers worldwide are more likely to purchase from a brand that has shown a solid commitment to sustainability.

Best practices for sustainable business

The issue of sustainability in physical retail stores is inextricably linked to brand values. Customers that share a store’s dedication to environmental protection have the potential to become loyal customers. It’s important to highlight that sustainable practices are not only a moral obligation, it also makes business sense.

Let’s have a look at how to make retail – online and offline – more environmentally friendly, adhering to sustainable principles.

1.      Keep working remotely

Since the pandemic, working from home has been accepted as the new normal. Organizations are benefitting from saved resources and improved productivity with flexible hours. In addition, it has had an undoubtedly positive impact on the environment as well. Among the most significant impacts are reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy consumption, and reduced use of plastic and paper.

The jury is out on whether having a wholly remote and even hybrid workforce can considerably lower a company’s overall carbon footprint. However, ignoring its influence would be denying sustainability needs. Employees are increasingly conscious of their influence on the environment when working from home. Therefore, they are looking for businesses to embrace sustainability efforts.

However, retail cannot function solely on remote workers. In order to effectively manage retail employees and their schedules, physical stores can implement employee scheduling software for retail. It will simplify and streamline the scheduling process for employees, and ease the communication with, and between them. They can easily communicate their need for a cover or swap shifts. The pen and paper method or a schedule template in Excel in today’s retail takes too much time. In addition, it reduces employees’ flexibility. Moving forward with scheduling software gives employees more control over their schedules, which in a way enforces responsibility on them.

2.      Reduce waste and costs with digital showrooms

According to McKinsey, B2B buyers and sellers prefer the new digital world. More than 70% of B2B decision-makers choose remote interactions between people or digital self-service.

Digital showrooms are used by retailers and businesses in the fashion, home design, or beauty industries to make the sales and purchasing process easier for customers.

Instead of making appointments in a physical showroom or at trade exhibitions, companies can use digital showrooms to showcase their collections. Potential buyers can visit at their leisure and place orders, all inside one platform, with virtual showroom software. Brands can also develop virtual or 3D samples to sell from, depending on the virtual showroom service provider.

As a sustainable and cost-effective option, this approach lowers retail waste (cardboard, plastic and paper, and general waste from customers), costs and removes the need for travel, thus reducing the carbon footprint.

For example, Laude the Label, a sustainable brand, leveraged JOOR (a wholesale & data exchange platform) to propel its wholesale expansion in addition to showrooms. After putting its wholesale operation online with JOOR, the brand experienced 200% corporate growth and 138% retailer growth.

Laude the Label successfully demonstrated the sustainable aspect of its products, such as how they ethically make apparel, by using a digital showroom. The majority of Laude the Label’s wholesale growth has been reinvested in poverty alleviation and long-term economic and social benefits worldwide.

3.      Invest in sustainable product packaging and shipping

According to a recent survey which included 6,000 customers, 80% believe it is “essential or vital” for companies to develop environmentally sensitive products. Furthermore, 72% indicated they buy more ecologically sustainable goods than they did 5 years earlier, and 81% said they anticipate buying more in the future.

It’s important to remember that the environmental harms outweigh consumer demand.

The primary source of digital commerce emissions is product packaging. It is six times more expensive than purchasing in-store. To implement this idea, consider recyclable and compostable shipping supplies or reusable product packaging.

46% of consumers are much more likely to buy a product online if the packaging can be recycled. 40% of firms are investing in this over the next year.

Physical retail stores may appeal to a shifting customer base while having a good impact by making their company more sustainable. They can do so by switching to an eco-friendly shipping method and introducing a carbon offset cost at checkout. Furthermore, they can reduce waste via easy recycling, incentivizing reusable bags, and less packaging.

An easy way to significantly reduce your company’s carbon footprint is partnering with local 3PL providers. The best 3PL companies can help retailers lower transportation costs and increase efficiency.

Example of ethical fashion

Ethica is an online retailer that can serve as an example of ethical fashion. It discovers rising designers and resells a chic range of ethical and sustainable labels. Its mission is to bring together consumers and businesses who share a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Ethica employs environmentally friendly carbon-neutral transportation and packaging.

4.      Make sustainable retail integral to your brand story

Your efforts will be in vain if you do not highlight your participation in sustainable activities. Explain and show your customers what they stand to gain through supporting your company. This requires incorporating sustainability into how your brand interacts with customers. After all, this will not be the only reason your customers will support your company. To build a well-rounded brand, you must demonstrate to consumers how sustainability fits smoothly with your other competitive advantages as a store.

That’s where content marketing comes in. The communication on your online channels is critical to turning your sustainability initiatives into an integral part of your company identity. This is your chance to address the big questions about what prompted you as a retailer to embrace a more sustainable business model. Content marketing is about narrative and concentrating on the long-term worth of your efforts to customers and the environment.

Co-marketing with other sustainable firms, blog postings, social media, and email marketing are all effective ways to keep your customers informed about your efforts. By doing so in the long run, you integrate sustainability into the spirit of your business rather than using it as a heartfelt sales pitch. It’s also an easy way to connect and communicate with your customers. You can get to know your audience better and learn and get ideas from them. Pay attention to customer feedback, positive or negative, they will value your acknowledgement.

Greenwashing is not new, but it is becoming more common as sustainable products and brands gain popularity. Greenwashing occurs when firms make false claims about the sustainability of their business model or products. Businesses view sustainability as a passing fad rather than a long-term strategy. It’s tempting to include this into their brand identity to boost sales.

Today, there is a growing desire for firms to demonstrate their eco-friendliness. Simply slapping “sustainable” over your branding will not be enough. According to a study by Asia Pulp & Paper, more than 80%of consumers have looked for sustainability information on labels, and 51% are more inclined to suggest a company or product if it contains sustainability information. As a result, this is a critical component of the marketing strategy.

Wrapping up

The most admirable aspect of running a more viable business is becoming part of the solution. To more discerning consumers, sustainability has become a significant value proposition. It demonstrates that you are aware of social or environmental concerns that society is facing and wish to help alleviate how you contribute to them as physical retail stores.

Businesses that are becoming more sustainable are more likely to turn a profit. More and more buyers are concerned about the environment, and the trend toward eco-friendly retailers will only grow. It’s now time to create a long-term strategy for your retail store!

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