As climate change causes worldwide concern and prompts calls for governmental action, consumers are putting the pressure on businesses to step up their sustainability standards and practices. Earth Day, coming up on April 22nd, is a great time to show shoppers how your store ‘goes green,’ but it doesn’t have to stop there.
Shoppers Flock to Sustainably-Sourced Products
Multiple surveys have shown that consumers prefer sustainably-sourced products, and are even willing to pay more for them. If retailers shift their Earth Day attitudes into high gear and practice it all year long, it could not only mean more loyal customers coming your way, it also positively impacts the environment.
“Some forward-looking companies are seeing it is an issue they can no longer ignore, morally and economically, and that you can go green and succeed in business,” says Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor at the Supply Chain Department of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and an expert on global supply chain sustainability and strategy.
“Business strategies must include sustainability in their core beliefs and practices. Part of the problem is that they are missing the simple, sensible ways that can drive sustainability and bring return on investment at the same time,” Chaturvedi continues. Here are some ways retailers can exercise sustainability practices to help fight climate change and connect with consumers:
Be Smart With Returns
Most consumers think the packaging from an online order contributes to most of the pollution, but in all actuality, the packaging contributes to less than 5 percent. The main culprit is the returned or defective item, which accounts for close to 50 percent of the pollution because it is not properly disposed after the return, according to Chaturvedi.
Be smart with disposing of returned items, and let your customers also know what happens when they return an item. Clearly state the process on your returns page to give shoppers an ease of mind when they purchase from you and to have them coming back for more.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Besides customer returns and defective products, think of other ways your business can go green. Are you regularly recycling paper, plastic, aluminum and ink cartridges at your store? You can also reuse packing materials and cardboard boxes. Reduce paper transactions by going digital for bill payments, vendor orders, invoices, and faxes.
Utilize Paper or Reusable Bags
Some states, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont have banned single-use plastic bags for retailers and restaurants, but for those retailers outside of those states, now is a good time to get rid of them in your store. One way is by using paper bags for purchases, or you can encourage customers to bring in their own reusable bags by giving them a small discount if they do.
“Businesses can see significant benefits, both economically and socially, from incorporating sustainable practices,” Chaturvedi said. “Some of the steps you incorporate can seem small at first, but day by day, those efforts will produce great results.”