Customers have always cared about your store as a place to find desirable merchandise. But these days, consumers are thinking about your store in a more holistic way. Are you a good neighbor? Working toward sustainability in retail can attract customers, assure their loyalty, and save you money, too.
Here's why it's important to be eco-friendly and several ways to go green with your business.
According to a recent study conducted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, 93% of customers worldwide expect the brands they patronize to support environmental and social issues. Here in the U.S., 68 million adult shoppers say they rely on their personal values, including environmental and social issues, when deciding what to buy. In other words, practicing sustainability in retail can define your future.
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to move toward a more sustainable store, many of them small, easily doable steps.
You know how you’ve already invested in LED lighting to illuminate your display cases and specific products? Switch to larger versions of those cool-burning, long-lasting, energy-sipping bulbs for your back room and office.
Just Say No to Paper
If you were to add up what you’re spending on printing receipts for customers, sending paper invoices, etc., you would have stopped these practices years ago. It is shocking. Happily, thanks to the convenience of the internet, customers no longer want paper. Email and/or texting saves time and trees. As a business, you can skip all that paper, too, by ensuring all your accounting and banking transactions happen digitally.
Get in Motion
Motion sensors that control lights in restrooms and fitting rooms can save untold energy (and keep your store cooler, too). Grocery stores have already introduced motion-activated display case lighting, as well. This not only conserves energy, it is a real head-turner when the interior lights come on as a shopper approaches.
And Speaking of Cooler...
Lowering your thermostat just a couple of degrees in winter (or raising it a bit in summer) can make a significant difference in your energy usage. Customers will actually appreciate this more than you know because they enter your store dressed for the weather outside. It’s hard to shop when you’re stifling in your puffy parka or freezing in your shorts and flip-flops.
Yes, paper, pop cans, etc. But this is a chance to get really creative. If you sell apparel, invite customers to a “swap meet” to trade items they’re tired of. Or have them bring items to donate as a group to a family shelter or getting-back-into-the-workforce program. Include items from your inventory that aren’t selling. Not in apparel? Adapt the idea to your merchandise and customers.
Get Customers Even More Involved
Create a social media campaign asking customers to share what they’re doing at home or the office to go green. Ask in-person customers to make suggestions about how you can put sustainability to work throughout your store. Do an event or workshop on ways to go green. For all these ideas, offer discounts or prizes for participation, and be sure to share the results in-store and online.
As you expand your sustainability in retail repertoire, every small step you take will add up to a big difference for your brand’s reputation and your bottom line.