1. Take Environmental Responsibility Seriously
Environmental responsibility entails for a company to reduce its environmental impact as much as possible. This involves several strategies such as the reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions, the implementation of measures to limit the quantity of water used and the monitoring of its energy consumption. Environmental responsibility also requires strategies for recycling and waste reduction.
To achieve sustainability, it is crucial for environmental and social considerations to be deeply ingrained in your company’s corporate culture and historical framework. Retailers must also implement all kinds of environmental and ethical measures aligned with their values and with their desire to make a positive impact in the world around them.
To learn all about sustainable retail and the circular economy, click here.
2. Sell Sustainable Products
Selling sustainable products is a practice that make a retailer sustainable. A sustainable product is designed to be manufactured and used in a way that minimizes negative environmental and social impacts throughout its life cycle. Here are some features that any sustainable product should have:
In order to proudly promote the sale of sustainable products, it is imperative that these products last a long time. Planned obsolescence is not an option if a retailer wants to be more sustainable.
Companies wishing to sell sustainable products must prioritize the quality of materials and products and minimize the need for replacements.
Reduced Environmental Impact
The goal of sustainable products is to minimize their ecological footprint. To make these products, companies use recycled materials, reduce the energy consumption required and limit the creation of waste.
Sustainable products prioritize efficient resource usage, carbon neutrality, and minimizing their impact on ecosystems. The shipping of these products must also be done as much as possible in respect of the environment. Seek opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping and production processes and to mitigate their environmental impact.
In the production and sale of sustainable products, companies take into account the well-being of local communities and employees and the fair treatment of employees throughout the supply chain.
Employee well-being includes healthy and safe working conditions, fair wages and respect for human rights.
Life Cycle Assessment
Companies must assess the environmental impact of sustainable products from their manufacture until the end of their useful life. For example, they must assess the impacts of the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing, the transport and the use of the product as well as how it will be discarded. This assessment helps identify improvements that can be made and improve the product to be more eco-friendly and sustainable.
Some governments and organizations issue certifications to products that meet their standards of sustainability and respect for the environment. Some of your products may qualify. Those certifications help a retailer establish themselves as sustainable.
3. Do Business With Ethical and Eco-Friendly Suppliers
Sustainable retailers carefully select their product offering by considering the environmental impact, social responsibility and the health of the population. They prioritize products that are eco-friendly, made of sustainable materials and produced with responsible processes.
This selection of products is made by choosing suppliers with responsible practices and who meet certain standards. If a store wants to be sustainable, it must make sure to do business with suppliers who treat their employees well, respect the environment and support fair trade, among other things. It should avoid choosing a supplier that has unethical practices or a reputation for harming the environment.
To make your store sustainable, do not hesitate to choose a local supplier. This ensures that you encourage the local economy. Also, less transport is needed if the suppliers are close!
4. Monitor Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions
To make your store sustainable, it is imperative to do everything in your power to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Monitoring energy consumption involves reducing energy consumption first and using renewable energy sources second.
First, reduce energy consumption and use it efficiently. To do this, one solution is to implement energy-efficient technologies or to adopt intelligent energy management systems. This kind of practice reduces greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs and contributes to make a retailer sustainable.
Then another option is to use renewable energy sources for energy supply. Transitioning to renewable energy resources like solar to meet business needs can be very beneficial. It also reduces its GHG emissions.
To reduce your energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, consider upgrading the equipment you need to operate on a daily basis. Several seemingly insignificant choices can make a difference. Here are some examples of environmental measures:
- Install solar panels, allowing your store to have electricity from solar energy.
- Install electric hand dryers in the bathrooms (to use less paper).
- Properly insulate the building to heat and cool it efficiently.
- Replace energy-intensive equipment with energy-efficient equipment.
- Install LED bulbs to save money.
- Install motion sensors for light to avoid using unnecessary electricity.
5. Recycle, Reuse and Reduce Waste
Establishing strategies to minimize waste is a good idea to become a sustainable store. A sustainable retailer will implement recycling programs for several materials (paper, plastic, glass and metals) or composting to limit the waste of organic materials.
Sometimes, it is also possible to reuse some used or recycled materials in the fabrication of your products. Check if this is possible in your company! Another solution is to buy back products and resell them or to practice renting in your store.
A lot of waste results from overstocking and inefficient inventory management. Having effective inventory management in place helps enormously in minimizing losses and maximizing revenue. To find out the best way to manage inventory, it’s here.
Do not hesitate to make your employees and customers aware of your anti-waste initiatives. They too contribute to the success of your efforts to become a sustainable retail business and to contribute positively to society. They are also part of what makes a retailer sustainable.
6. Use Eco-Friendly Packaging
Opt for packaging made with fewer materials. Packaging made from recycled, biodegradable or reusable materials are good options for reducing packaging waste and making products eco-friendly.
When choosing packaging, focus on resource efficiency in addition to the manufacturing cost of the packaging. Opt for reusable packaging!
7. Practice the Circular Economy
The traditional system (linear economy) puts pressure on the environment, populations and public health and generates a lot of waste. It evolves in a straight line: extraction, transformation, distribution, use, then elimination.
The circular economy is a new economic model that rethinks traditional economic systems in order to use fewer resources and protect ecosystems. The circular economy aims to optimize the use of resources that are already circulating in society, to minimize the waste of resources and to promote sustainability. Plus, circular economy makes a retailer sustainable.
Learn how to get started with reCommerce (circular economy) here.
Adopt the principles of the circular economy by designing your products to be durable, repairable and recyclable. Implement a take-back program to ensure products are managed responsibly at the end of their life cycle. Explore every opportunity to give a new life to materials and products! This will minimize waste. It is also an opportunity to increase your income. If you are looking for a point of sale software tailored to the circular economy, check out Alice POS!
8. Have Responsible and Transparent Marketing Practices
It is essential to transparently communicate your environmental and social values as well as your practices to be responsible with your target audiences. How to be transparent? By making all the information on the social and environmental impacts of your products available in a clear and accurate manner. The efforts you do to make your products eco-friendly should also be shared.
Transparency is essential and makes a retailer sustainable. Consumers want to buy from sustainable stores, but if they don’t know you’ve taken eco-friendly or ethical initiatives or if they think you’re dishonest, they won’t make purchases in your store. They will even buy less if they doubt your goodwill.
It is for this reason that you must build your credibility to stand out in the eyes of customers. However, self-declarations that you might make about your store and your products do not help to gain customer trust and loyalty.
It is for this reason that you must go through other actors to communicate effectively with your target audience. For example, you can obtain a recognized certification or associate yourself with a recognized organization in the protection of the environment or human rights.
Sustainable retailers ensure that all of their marketing is based on honest claims and aligned with actual business practices. Responsible marketing considers what is in the best interest of society now and in the long term. This type of marketing is all about attracting potential customers, not soliciting them, by sharing authentic facts in advertisements.
In sum, with these 8 practices, you preserve the environment, contribute to collective well-being and position yourself as a responsible business. In addition to having a positive impact on the planet, these practices that make a retailer sustainable can also help you reduce costs, attract an engaged customer base and strengthen your brand image. Remember that sustainability is an ongoing journey, and it is crucial to involve your team and stay updated on the latest advancements in the field, as well as remain attentive to the perspectives of employees and customers. By investing in sustainable practices, you are helping to create a better future, both for your store and for our planet.