Climate Change in the News
Reasons a Response is Required
So climate change and being eco-friendly is a subject we cannot ignore for a few reasons. First and foremost, we cannot ignore it because as inhabitants of Earth we need to take responsibility for the fact that our daily actions can and do have a detrimental effect on our environment. Secondly and specific to business, becoming or converting to more eco-friendly ways can actually end up reducing certain operational costs. Thirdly and perhaps the most cynical point of all, being seen to become more eco-friendly from a business point of view can help to win over new customers who are impressed by your business’ environmentally responsible behaviour.Certainly in a B2C type business such as retail, any extra incentive to win over customers is welcome and becoming eco-friendly and outwardly so is a positive public relations move, while also covering areas of corporate social responsibility.
It Concerns Small Retailers Also
Some retail business owners might see this conversion to eco-friendly ways as being solely the concerns of larger retailers but this is not the case. Small changes by smaller retailers are a wise move. Many environmental advocates would emphasise the point that if everyone including businesses made just a small change in trying to be more eco-friendly, then this would be a positive step.
Preventing physical waste, increasing energy efficiency or improving resource productivity saves money, improves profitability and in turn enhances competitiveness. Sometimes in business, this is referred to as a lean model. Lean means doing more with less. In effect that is why lean management supports green thinking.
With a recent survey from the USA finding that 78.3% of all retail chains reported the use of environmentally friendly material, it seems that many retailers have already adopted the eco-friendly approach. For those that have not yet even explored this idea, they are certainly missing out.
Adopting an Eco-Friendly Approach in Retail
So how can a more eco-friendly approach be implemented in Retail?
1. Lighting Fixtures
Energy efficient lighting for your store displays and interiors can help to reduce your energy bills and make your store more eco friendly.
Implementation: Start small and incorporate energy saving alternatives to decorate your store and create a ‘greener’ ambiance. Perhaps start with the outdoor lighting over your store signage or the lighting in the window display.
Reduce use of heating and cooling systems throughout the store.
Implementation: Set your thermostat at reduced settings so that you will have a comfortable store temperature without wastage of fuel or energy. This will also help to reduce heating and energy costs.
3. Sensor Activated Solutions
Reduce costs and be eco-friendly.
Implementation: For washrooms, store rooms and even for your shop display cabinets, you can adopt motion detecting lights, plumbing, and other settings. Think about installing people counting software so you are fully aware when your store is busy and when it is quiet. Opening times can be altered to fall in line with demand using the data from the resultant reports.
Whether you are printing sale receipts, letters or salary statements, you are wasting paper.
Implementation: Adopt a no-paper policy where feasible.
Recycle the waste that piles up in the store.
Implementation: Make it a habit to recycle your trash on a regular basis and separate it according to what can be recycled and what can be simply dumped.
Many items have the option of being put to sleep/standby, but will still continue to consume energy.
Implementation: Turn off equipment fully when not in use and ensure all staff are aware of this policy. Implementing this will not only be environmentally responsible but it will also, over time, help to cut energy costs.
Ideally green ethics and eco-friendly thinking need to come into place at all stages of the retail cycle in order to be fully effective. Suppliers and competitors should also be encouraged to implement greener processes. If you as a retailer are a member of a local trade association you could use that platform to encourage others to implement some of the same processes that you are trying. Similarly, the retailer’s own logistics, sales operations and customer delivery should also aim to reduce energy and resource costs, and be greener making the whole cycle environmentally conscious.
Make Customers Aware
In a more cynical move, all this effort should be highlighted to customers. Being environmentally aware is admirable therefore the retailer could consider getting some promotional material prepared to highlight their activities such as stickers for the counters stating a no-paper receipt policy and the reasoning behind it.
The recommendation therefore is that the retailer should start small, identifying areas for possible change and improvement and move forward that way. Small changes equal long term gains both environmentally and economically.