The holidays are a great time for retailers – high traffic volumes and big sales. It also means a lot of packaging, overwhelming amounts, with the shipments coming in, then repackaging, wrapping, boxing, bagging… then going out again to your customers. While you’re super busy right now keeping up with shoppers, let this season be the inspiration to start the New Year greener.
It’s not only better for the planet, but an increasing number of shoppers are looking for environmentally friendly, sustainable options. The savings on your electricity bill might even offset other costs of implementing your environmentally friendly changes. You can then turn your new store policies into a great marketing campaign.
- Energy Efficiency:
Conduct an energy audit: The first place you can start thinking about your environmental impact is to ask your utility company to make an audit of how you use energy. They will compile a report, usually for free, showing you where you use the most energy, and then give you recommendations on how to lower your costs.
The most common ways to lower your energy bill are to:
Trade in your light bulbs: Swap yours bulbs for LED (light-emitting diode), or CFL (compact fluorescent lights) – they will save you energy, but also last a lot longer than traditional lightbulbs.
Turn everything off when not in use: Don’t forget your cash registrars and computers.
Buy greener electronics – I’m not saying go out and buy all new electronics, but if the time comes to replace something, consider something energy efficient. Check also if there are local and government programs that subsidize replacing your old equipment for energy efficient options.
- Use Greener Supplies:
Bags and packaging: Since the debate is still running over paper vs. plastic, there are 3 better options. First ask your customer if they need a bag at all, if they do offer the choice between cloth bags that you can sell at cost, or a paper bag made from recycled paper.
Cleaning supplies: Switching to non-toxic cleaning supplies isn’t as expensive as you might think, and it makes a big difference to the water supply. Alternatively there are many recipes online for natural cleaning solutions, which could cost you less, and you can add any mix of natural aromas to make your space smell amazing!
- Offer Greener Product Options:
Focusing on fashion retail, this could mean organic materials, and items made locally, or sourced using ethical practices. There are an increasing number of brands and suppliers that deal with greener products as demand steadily increases. Locally sourced or nationally sourced clothing and accessories not only have less of a shipping cost, but also support local manufacturers. Consider complimenting your core brands with a trial selection of local or more organic options, and see how your customer responds. This is where you can take advantage of marketing.
Take advantage of this great marketing angle. Let the world know your business is committed to making responsible choices at every stage of operations. Your current customers will have another reason to shop with you, and you’ll attract new customers that will more likely remain loyal as they align with your new business practices.
The months of January and February are a great time to reflect on how you run your business, how to minimize your global footprint, and implement practical changes. Get your team on board to help minimize electricity use, minimize waste, and become knowledgeable about your new eco products. Start a marketing campaign showcasing your improved policies and products. It’s hard to avoid extra packaging around the holidays but this can be offset throughout the rest of the year by implementing store policies to waste less and source sustainably.