4 Ways To Make Your Retail Business More Eco-Friendly in 2024
Did you know that becoming more eco-friendly as a retail business doesn’t just help the planet, it could boost your sales too?
According to research conducted by YouGov, more than a third of British consumers have said they are now choosing to buy products from companies with strong eco-credentials.
Meanwhile, Deloitte discovered that “environmental or ethical concerns” caused 28% of shoppers to stop buying certain products from retailers, while PWC found that 88% of consumers want brands to help them live sustainably.
With the UK retail industry facing the challenge of being Net-Zero by 2040, now’s the time to start driving sustainability in your business. Read on for simple tips on how to start getting greener today.
Make Recycling Easy and Fun
End-of-life product waste has a huge impact on the planet. Retailers can encourage customers to stop binning items they no longer use by actively promoting the recycling of their products.
For example, UK electrical store, Curry’s, have offered to pick up small electrical items for recycling free of charge when delivering larger items to their clients. Could you consider implementing a similar scheme within your own retail company?
If you have a physical store, consider accepting products for recycling or offering a reward scheme – such as a discount on a subsequent purchase – to customers who return used products to be recycled.
Packaging can also play a vital role when it comes to recycling. Do you stock items such as beauty products and cosmetics which would lend themselves to a refill system if customers keep the original packaging?
By making packing more durable and visually pleasing, consumers will also be more inclined to hold on to it for reuse or refill in the future.
Know your Customer and Appeal to their Interests
According to the BRC’s guide for retailers, people’s opinions on hot topics like climate change vary in accordance to their age, gender, background and financial status.
Their research suggests consumers are split into 4 camps when it comes to how they feel about environmental issues, including Non-Ecos and Net-Zero heroes.
With this in mind, how you educate your consumers on sustainability needs to be tailored to match your customers’ profile, or you could risk alienating them in your approach.
Gather as much information as you can on your own customer demographic – for example, by consulting analytics from your website or social media – and use it to inform your approach when introducing environmental issues.
Do you mostly sell to Non-Ecos, who tend to be older and don’t typically prioritise green products? If so, then consider the softly-softly approach when promoting your ethical standpoint and focus on making information clear and relatable.
Or maybe your clients are Net-Zero heroes – mostly Gen X and Millennials between 25 and 45 years old? If so, shout your sustainability message from the rooftops and make sure they know that you are actively embracing eco-friendly practices.
Incorporate Sustainability into Your Products
A great deal of blame is levelled at consumer habits when it comes to environmental issues such as carbon emissions and waste.
However, customers can’t be expected to do all the work. As a retailer, meet them halfway by ensuring sustainability is a cornerstone of your product journey.
Try to ensure your products are made from renewable sources where possible and that your manufacturers are sustainably sound and work in accordance with ethical practices,
While you don’t need to change your entire product line overnight, consider starting off with an eco-friendly line – such as recyclable packaging, or fair trade or vegan products – and expanding from there.
By demonstrating to your customers that you are being mindful they will be reassured that you are doing your bit as a retailer to help the environment.
Educate Your Customers
As retailers, you have a responsibility to inform your customers what they are buying and how it is impacting the planet – either positively or negatively.
You can do your part in educating consumers by making any information regarding sustainability a clear part of your product promotion.
Include vital info at the point of sale or on receipts so it’s within the customer’s eye line. Avoid using jargon and ensure information is communicated using accessible language.
Make sure to provide clear comparisons, especially when it comes to product usage, for example by highlighting how much money they will save over the lifetime of a particular product.
Many consumers are confused on this subject, so it helps to provide them with a point of reference that they can use as an example.
According to new evidence collected by the PwC and the BRC, the retail industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
In 2017, the full lifecycle of sold goods in the sector resulted in a footprint of around 215 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e). That amounts to 31% of all GHG emissions associated with UK consumption.
The message? It’s time to start cleaning up your act as retailers and encouraging your customers to do the same.
By adopting ethical practices and communicating these clearly to your customers, along with incentivizing green habits such as recycling, you can significantly help reduce your carbon emissions as an industry and help ensure the future of our planet.
Good luck and happy retailing!