THE RETAIL BULLETIN - The home of retail news
HOME
RETAIL NEWS
RETAIL EVENTS
Fashion
Department Stores
Shopping Centres & Retail Parks
Home & DIY
Electricals
Health & Beauty
General Merchandise
Entertainment
Sports & Leisure
Retail Solutions
Food & Drink
RETAIL INSIGHTS
RETAIL SOLUTIONS
ABOUT US
CONTACT US
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE
Retail and sustainability: how it can pay

While some businesses see the need to act sustainably as just another expensive hoop they have to jump through, others are using it as a way to reduce costs, gain market share and improve their bottom line. By Helen Dickinson

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Retail and sustainability: how it can pay

The fact is that the drive for sustainability can be turned from a challenge into a business benefit and there are some great examples of this in the retail sector.
 
Those who use sustainability to focus on their business practices, and look for the efficiencies and benefits it can bring, find themselves operating more effectively with lower costs and a growing customer base.  On the other hand, those who pretend it’s not happening, only act in response to legislation and then do just enough to comply really are missing an opportunity to benefit from new business practices and reduce their costs.

One of the problems of tackling the whole question of sustainability is that it covers such a wide range of things, from saving energy to investing ethically and from protecting raw material supplies to corporate social responsibility.

What is increasingly clear, though, is that the public is demanding that businesses act sustainably and is looking for evidence that retailers are doing their bit to comply with 21st Century thinking on the future of the planet and its resources.

Companies such as Marks & Spencer continue to make loud noises about their Plan A campaign, which the retailer describes as “working with our customers and our suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help our customers to lead healthier lifestyles.”  The M&S website also points out: “We’re doing this because it’s what you want us to do. It’s also the right thing to do. We're calling it Plan A because we believe it's now the only way to do business.”

Companies that share that view that sustainability is “the only way to do business” are benefiting from the feel good factor they are creating amongst their customers – which is why they are making a point of advertising what they are doing as well as doing it.  More importantly, the smaller fish swimming in the big retailers’ pools are also having to brush up their sustainability act to make sure they don’t lose out.

Companies are more and more concerned about image these days, and supply chain vetting is increasingly frequent and increasingly tough.  I understand businesses which have adopted this approach have removed products if their criteria could not be met by suppliers, providing a stark warning of what can happen if action is not quickly enough to make ensure products are sustainable.

There are other benefits too.  For retailers, focusing on its operation can simplify and streamline business.  Keeping track of fewer product lines has to make life easier, particularly if one or more of those products might have damaged your reputation.

It seems where retail has led others are following with all kinds of end users from local government to large corporations to IT companies now flaunting their sustainability credentials and weeding out those firms that might damage their reputation. 

There is a real competitive advantage to be gained in being one of the leaders in sustainability rather than one of the laggards that is just making a minimal effort to comply with the letter of the law. The public wants it, customers are demanding it and the bottom line will often be better for it.  Rather than just seeing the cost of compliance, if sustainability is tackled in the right way, compliance becomes a by-product of the growth generated by focusing on new opportunities.

Helen Dickinson is  Head of Retail at KPMG


Email this article to a friend

You need to be logged in to use this feature.

Please log in here

Subscribe For Retail News

RETAIL EVENTS

Retail Human Resources Summit
Retail Human Resources Summit
Wednesday 3 October 2018
The Cavendish Conference Centre, London W1
The 10th HR Summit 2018, The Cavendish Conference Centre, London W1, 3rd October 2018
The Retail Design Summit 2018
The Retail Design Summit 2018
14 November 2018
The Cavendish Conference Centre
The Retail Design Summit 2018
Omnichannel Futures Conference 2019
Omnichannel Futures Conference 2019
6 February 2019
Cavendish Conference Centre, London WG1 9DT
A truly omnichannel offering requires an understanding of customer behaviour across all shopping channels and how this should impact your overall business strategy
Customer Engagement Conference 2019
Customer Engagement Conference 2019
5 June 2019
Cavendish Conference Centre, London W1
The 10th Annual Retail Customer Engagement Summit
National Minimum Wage Breakfast Briefing
National Minimum Wage Breakfast Briefing
20 September 2018
6th Floor 1, St. Martin's Le Grand London, EC1A 4AS
National Minimum Wage Breakfast Briefing