The Evolution of Sustainability in Retail

This blog has been written by one of our customers: Laura Rudoe, Founder of Evolve Organic Beauty.

At Evolve Organic Beauty, we design and market organic, vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics with environmentally friendly packaging. Being eco-friendly is the core of what we do. We believe that society is coming full circle by realizing that choosing natural ingredients is better for us and our world.

Alongside beauty, many other retailers are now, rightly, coming under the microscope when it comes to sustainability and environmental issues. There’s no doubt that sustainability is a hot topic but, for various reasons, many retailers are lagging behind. 

Why should you pay attention to sustainability?

Firstly, why should retailers pay attention to sustainability? Other than the clear ethical reasons, like that small issue of saving the planet, going green offers many benefits. For one, customers are paying close attention: 93% of global consumers expect more of the brands they use to support social and environmental issues - and up to 20% will spend more on environmentally sound products.

It’s clear that modern shoppers are happy to invest in sustainable brands, so it's logical that we all, in turn, should look to invest in sustainability. At Evolve Organic Beauty, we integrate our eco-friendly approach at a business level which influences all of our decision making. This transparency helps us to connect with consumers in an increasingly eco-conscious beauty market.

Using technology to become sustainable

In the past, many of us have struggled to get a complete picture of the impact of our own operations, and as a result, a firm grip over our sustainability.

Fortunately, we now have technology at our disposal that does give us a complete view over our business and the ability to identify and make changes, as and when necessary - leaving no room for excuses.

And it's possible for other retailers to have this kind of ability as well.

For example, we know of many brands that have adopted warehouse systems that allow them to identity the most efficient picking routes, not only saving their businesses money, but also the fuel from their transport vehicles too. Other companies are even adopting technology, such as barcode scanners, that allow them to introduce a "paperless warehouse" which again saves on resources and most importantly, benefits the environment.

These simple changes can have a drastic impact on your business and how sustainable it is, ensuring you use your resources more effectively, prevent waste, and reduce energy costs.

Unfortunately, 69% of businesses are currently not deploying warehouse technology - and I feel strongly that there is a clear opportunity here for retailers to reconsider their approach and start making dents in the overall goal of reducing the carbon footprint of their inventory.

Many companies also face issues with the gathering and reporting of sustainability data. We too faced challenges in our early days, using a mix of spreadsheets and systems that were very restrictive and that made it very difficult to keep track of sales, inventory and have visibility of all of our business’s data - which made it more challenging to assess our impact on the environment.

We rectified this by employing Brightpearl as our back office solution which pulls together all of our vital company data, such as sales, financials and customer information, into one central hub. This gave us a single view over our business and meant we could make the informed decisions needed to streamline our operations and both measure and reduce our own carbon footprint, in-line with our sustainable strategic goals.

Final thoughts

Today, myself and other retailers have a huge influence on society, and can take a positive role in helping to educate people regarding the environment. More companies need to capitalize on the opportunity to prioritize sustainability by weaving it closely into their overall business strategy. Doing so, means considering new investment in the systems and tools that can make these eco-plans and sustainable business practices a reality.

This article originally appeared in Essential Retail.

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About the Author

Laura Rudoe is the Founder of Evolve Organic Beauty, which is a range of organic and environmentally friendly skin, body and haircare products. She believes it is time for beauty to evolve, and that society is coming full circle and realizing that choosing natural ingredients is better for us and our world. Together with a small team of artisans, Laura designs and makes each product carefully by hand in their Hertfordshire-based studio.