As the retail industry settles into the ‘new normal’, e-commerce platform Kooomo advises on why sustainability still needs to be top of the agenda
Consumers are more conscious than ever about how their shopping habits affect the world at large. As Coronavirus readjusts most people’s moral compass, consumers are choosing to invest their spending into more sustainable products and focusing their attention on brands dedicated to social issues and environmental efforts in all aspects of their business. This is according to digital e-commerce solutions specialist, Kooomo, which outlines that sustainability efforts still need to be very much at the top of retailers’ agendas and which responsibilities should be focused on.
Ciaran Bollard, CEO of Kooomo, says: “Despite the disruption brought to the retail sector by COVID-19, online retail spend continues to increase, with stats showing that by 2024, online retail spend is expected to reach £75bn in the UK and €3.8bn in Ireland. But despite this expected growth, it’s important that retailers don’t rest on their laurels and still focus on continuously improving their offering. Those that ensure they focus on the customer experience and adhere to social and environmental duties seek to reap the benefits.”
According to a recent study, Gen Z consumers are 1.5 times more likely to refer to a brand on social media based on its values, 68% of Gen Zers expect brands to contribute to society, and 87% of consumers will buy from a brand with a social or environmental cause.
With this in mind, Bollard outlines that sustainability is not restricted solely to packaging and waste and that the environmental impact of increased cargo planes, trains, and lorries must not be forgotten. He states that retailers should consider reducing packaging waste, reducing their carbon footprint and updating their brand ethos: “You should make arrangements to switch to eco-friendly packaging options as soon as possible. Source recycled boxes and inflatable packaging, which reduces the amount of packaging needed within the box itself.
“Recycling cardboard takes only 75% of the energy required to make new cardboard, so try looking into packaging providers such as Camvec.com or progresspackaging.co.uk. You should also bundle goods into one box instead of shipping in multiple boxes or bags and email receipts instead of using paper slips. These simple steps seriously add up to less waste and a better sustainability process over time.”
Reducing one’s carbon footprint starts with having very clear product information on a website with good context (measurements etc.). This way, customers know exactly what they are getting, and the chances of a return being made are reduced. Bollard adds: “You should ensure you have a varied offering in shipping options, emphasise the rewards for longer wait times (ie. that they are cheaper) and it’s also beneficial to have your reasoning behind this displayed on the checkout as customers respect environmental responsibility.”
Finally, Bollard believes that keeping audiences informed of one’s ethical responsibilities will increase relatability and humanity and will justify added costs to consumers in a positive manner. He says, “consumers prefer to spend their money on brands that display pro-social messages, apply sustainable manufacturing practices and exercise ethical business standards. You should therefore be sure to work your caretaking into your brand ethos; Inform your consumers of what can be recycled from their delivery and what parts of the delivery are made from recycled products. You can also utilise your eCommerce Store to move unwanted in-store merchandise and offer them as part of your sales promotions. Work sustainability into your mission statement too, and pepper it throughout your content – If you over-do it with self-praise, consumers may begin to feel isolated if you present yourself as a paragon of virtue.”
Bollard concludes: “The conversation around sustainability is set to increase as years move on and ethical values will continue to become more of a priority for consumers. Gestures on your businesses’ behalf don’t have to be large and by no means should you run yourself into the ground trying to become more sustainable. However, it might make a positive impact on your business to educate your teams, educate your consumers, and take small steps to make sustainability a part of your business.”