Going Green – A guide to sustainable retail

Published On: 26 April 2022By 4.3 min readCategories: eCommerce, EPoS System, OpSuite, Retail, Retail EPoS, TrendsTags: , , ,

Sustainable Retail

The ban on free single-use carrier bags came into force in 2015 and was considered a bold move by the UK Government who wanted to push the sustainable retail agenda.  As businesses come under increasing pressure from customers to go further, it’s time they took sustainability more seriously, and some of the biggest players are doing just that…

In March of this year Amazon announced that they will stop all use of single-use plastic delivery bags in the UK in a bid to boost the recycling of their packaging as they aim to become a net-zero carbon company by 2040. This announcement comes just as the company launched its first ever fully electric fleet of HGV vehicles in the UK.

John Boumphrey of Amazon UK said of the move:

“Customers are already receiving more deliveries in easily recyclable paper and cardboard, and we will keep innovating and finding ways to use more sustainable packaging.”

So let’s take a look at how you can boost your environmental credentials and win that all important green business, including some examples from the UK’s most trusted retailers.

Green Packaging

Cardboard has traditionally been the most environmentally friendly form of packaging as boxes can be reused and recycled. However, some businesses have taken this a step further by introducing compostable bags (such as the Co-Op) or even ‘plantable’ cardboard which is embedded with seeds. While that may be a little too far for some, avoiding plastics is a great start!

Meanwhile ASDA has launched a number of ‘sustainability stores’ which allow users to fill and refill reusable plastic tubs with various staples including pasta and rice in a bid to cut the amount of packaging sent to landfill.

Better yet, consider getting rid of packaging altogether, like Lush who have introduced solid products such as shampoo bars which come unwrapped and without packaging of any kind.

Green Delivery

Sustainable delivery

While it’s great to receive a purchase the next day, or even same-day in some cases, it’s not so good for the environment. Greener shipment options are typically slower as consignments are consolidated into a single vehicle which reduces the carbon emissions for each individual delivery. However, for those enviro-conscious customers who are willing to wait a little longer for a greener purchase, greener delivery options certainly are an excellent selling point for your brand.

Carbon Offset

For those customers who have a green conscience but aren’t prepared to wait that extra day or two for their delivery, carbon offsetting is a great idea. You’ve probably encountered it if you’ve purchased flights in recent years as it’s relatively common in the travel industry. Retailers are beginning to cotton on to this trend with some even paying the carbon offset charge on behalf of their customers – win-win!

Fulfilment Partners

If you rely on third party logistics (3PL) companies to fulfil your orders but you haven’t checked out their green credentials, now is the time. If you want to offer your customers the most sustainable fulfilment options possible, this is an important step and will help you to make greener choices when it comes to fulfilment.

Recycle Your Products

Recycle Products

All products have a lifespan and providing a service through which customers can recycle old products can be a serious tick in the green box. While some companies like Game offer a ‘buy back’ service, others will offer a discount towards new purchases or a gift when you return your old items.  Marks and Spencer and Oxfam’s ‘Shwop’ service resells, reuses or recycles pre-loved clothes and gives Sparks Card holders a free gift in return. This is in sad contradiction to Burberry who gained damaging negative press in 2018 for burning £30m of unsold stock in a bid to maintain its ‘exclusive’ reputation.

Meanwhile other brands such as Boots have launched sustainability initiatives whereby customers can recycle items which can’t be recycled at home, such as toothpaste tubes and mascara. To top it off, they offer their Advantage Card holders 500 points for every item recycled.

Greener Tech

While many of these tips are about making more environmentally conscious decisions in your business, there are some which require technology to back them up. For example, offering your customers email receipts instead of paper, employing a loyalty scheme to allow you to gift points in return for greener choices, or buying products back from customers and awarding discounts or store credit in return. Many of these solutions are simply unworkable if you don’t have the hardware and retail management system features at your fingertips. And, it’s much more sustainable when you have all the features you need under one roof.

With OpSuite you can make the most of your green objectives and reward your customers at the same time. Why not book a discovery call with our team on 0800 138 0050 and find out how OpSuite can streamline your processes and allow you to be more sustainable than ever before.

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