Retail, by definition, is the sale of goods or service from a business to a consumer for their own use. A retail transaction handles small quantities of goods whereas wholesale deals with the purchasing of goods on a large scale. Retail transactions are not to be confused with online transactions; goods must be sold from a single point directly to a consumer for their end users.
A retailer is a person or business that you purchase goods from. Retailers typically don’t manufacture their own items. They purchase goods from a manufacturer or a wholesaler and sell these goods to consumers in small quantities.
Retailing is the distribution process of a retailer obtaining goods or services and selling them to customers for use. This process is explained through the supply chain.
Most modern retailers typically make a variety of strategic level decisions including the type of store, the market to be served, the optimal product assortment, customer service, supporting services and the store’s overall market positioning. Once the strategic retail plan is in place, retailers devise the retail mix which includes product, price, place, promotion, personnel, and presentation. In the digital age, an increasing number of retailers are seeking to reach broader markets by selling through multiple channels, including both bricks and mortar and online retailing. Digital technologies are also changing the way that consumers pay for goods and services. Retailing support services may also include the provision of credit, delivery services, advisory services, stylist services and a range of other supporting services.
Until recently, sustainability was a niche approach in retail. But in the past few years, we’ve seen corporations take on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives as a way to lessen their environmental impact.
Green retailing is the practice of reducing environmental waste in every section of your business using a management-led approach. As well as being great for the environment, green retailing has the added benefits of reducing costs in some cases, as well as increasing efficiency. It’s not good enough to just offer eco-friendly products anymore, your business has to practice what it preaches in all aspects. There are plenty of ways that your retail business can reduce its carbon footprint, but there is no quick fix.
Green retailing is something that you will have to be dedicated to and continually work on, but the payoff for your business could be massive in terms of reputation and revenue. Did you know that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world ?
Customers want to spend money on brands they feel good about and brands that contribute towards eco-efforts.
A study conducted by Nielsen found that 66% of people would happily pay more for products from environmentally friendly businesses and that sales of consumer goods from brands with a commitment to sustainability rose 4% in 2015, compared to a 1% rise in sales for brands that didn’t
Climate change, the turmoil created by fires like the current one in the Amazon, consumerism, the generation of non-recyclable waste has pricked the conscience of the world and the actual mentality of consumers. This is so much so that according to the latest research by GlobalWebIndex, 57% of consumers would choose sustainable brands despite them them being more expensive, whilst 61% of users would choose a different brand if they discovered that it wasn’t eco-friendly.
Consumers are becoming more and more socially aware. They are looking for and sharing information about brands they trust and buy and that’s why it’s essential for them to work on conveying their involvement and reinforce their social responsibility.
We are facing a huge environmental threat which not only affects the work of brand image in the presence of a worried society, but also the implementation of a business’ management model itself.
The aim of sustainable marketing is to make companies more human and aware, granting them the responsibility of generating a positive impact on the environment and people. As we stated in the last article about green retail, sustainability is both the present and the future and it must be a business value that engages society.
There are lots of big brands that have wanted to be a part of this eco-friendly trend. Environmental and eco-friendly awareness and marketing retail is about taking measures and basic action to reduce the environmental impact, like, for example, through the use of materials and equipment that does it no harm, reducing the consumption of plastics and packaging, improving accessibility, digitalising and avoiding any non-essential waste, amongst others.
Meanwhile we also ensure that our brand speaks out among society, reminding the consumer of the importance of having a social conscience. Coherence between our brand’s actions and the messages that we convey to the consumer is rudimentary throughout the purchasing process.
We need to do it right and make it known, and this has to be the key to marketing retail differentiation. The figures don’t lie and it is true that there has been an increase in the consumption of eco-friendly products as well as those with health benefits.
The work of marketing retail is to identify a consumer’s worries and what interests and identifies them in order to satisfy their needs, offering them what they want at the point of sale and across all the channels that they are in contact with, whilst considering the brand’s multi-channel presence.
1. Source more sustainable products and brands
From footwear brands Veja and Allbirds to LA fashion-brand Reformation, there’s a new generation of businesses setting the standard for sustainability. These companies are leading the charge in environmental fashion and gaining mass followings along the way thanks to their ability to marry cool styling with strong eco-friendly credentials.
This kind of movement is not just happening in fashion. In the consumer goods space, new independent companies are making waves by appealing to consumers with their strong ethics, total transparency and sustainable business models. UK smoothie brand Innocent Drinks is a great example. It has built its reputation on making simple, natural, healthy drinks, and is also a certified B Corporation (a voluntary audit carried out by global non-profit organization B Lab, which assesses companies’ impact on the environment, among other things).
Consumers are looking out for these sustainable brands, because they’d rather spend their money with them than with someone who seems to care only for profit. It pays, then, to keep your finger on the pulse of consumers, and stock the brands they are talking about.
Banning single-use plastic carrier bags in supermarkets the world over has been a step in the right direction towards cutting down on the consumption of plastic packing, which is widely recognized as a key environmental pollutant. But campaigners, and consumers, are urging retailers to do more.
Coming with a long history and undeniable eco-friendly credentials, second hand is cool again. More consumers than ever are choosing to buy vintage and second-hand goods. A report by thredUP, the largest online thrift store, found that in the past three years, the overall market of used and re-sold products has grown 21 times faster than the retail apparel market.
Vintage and second-hand items are popular with consumers for two key reasons: they help reduce the environmental impact of their purchases – the fashion industry is the world’s second largest contributor to pollution – and they’re affordable, allowing people to get hold of goods they perhaps wouldn’t have been able to afford new.
It makes sense, then, for retailers to take part in the pre-worn and used goods markets. Popular initiatives include buy-back schemes, where retailers accept returned items to be repaired, resold or recycled into new products, or partnerships with resale platforms.
Just like second-hand is experiencing a renaissance, so too are rental business models. The change has already transformed the music and entertainment industry – think how Spotify has supplanted compact-disc sales and downloads, and how Netflix has replaced video stores and boxsets – and it’s likely to affect more industries in the coming years.
In fashion, services like Rent the Runway, an online rental for clothes and accessories that includes luxury items, are meeting consumer hunger for newness without causing the same damage as fast fashion – prioritizing experiences over ownership, and making luxury more accessible to different kinds of consumers
LA-based fashion brand Reformation sells clothes that are both covetable and eco-conscious. If that weren’t enough, it’s also making an impact with its sustainable stores which are Green Business certified, meaning they implement strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. This involves incorporating materials like LED fixtures, rammed earth and recycled fabric insulation in its buildings, and offsetting its construction footprint and electricity usage.
This is not the only company going green. Fashion designer Stella McCartney’s flagship store in London embodies sustainability throughout – from its handmade, organic and sustainably sourced furnishings and biodegradable mannequins to the air conditioning system that cleans the air using nano-carbon technology. Ikea’s sustainable store in London Greenwich is built from a range of renewable materials. The roof is also covered with solar panels to power the store, and the building collects rainwater to halve its water consumption.
Store design is an area that will face increased scrutiny in the coming years. Indeed, global energy solutions provider Schneider Electric claims that retail buildings are the largest consumers of energy among non-residential buildings in Europe. By reducing their carbon footprint and emissions, retailers can lessen their impact on the planet and improve their brand image, while also saving significant costs.
Expedited shipping, promising one-day or even one-hour delivery, has fueled consumer demands and expectations for speed. While this is great news for consumers who want instant gratification, for the planet this can have devastating consequences.
Although it’s hard for retailers to step out of the quick delivery game, it’s possible to take steps in the right direction. Amazon, famous for its same-day Prime delivery, said it now moves most of its inventory without air transport and has pledged to make 50% of its deliveries “net zero carbon” – meaning they won’t create any harmful emissions – by 2030. The brand also plans to start using a fleet of electric vehicles.
Retailers can make smaller, but still meaningful, steps to decrease the environmental impact of deliveries. You could, for example, give your customers more choices, such as claiming extra loyalty points or a discount code if they’re willing to wait a few extra days for delivery. This would allow you to ship the item on an ecologically efficient route and schedule – and it would likely save you costs, too.
Start by opting for appliances, lighting, and equipment that save energy.
You can, for example, swap out your traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving options like CLF and LED lighting. You’ll find that the latter not only requires less energy (which in turn lead to lower greenhouse emissions), but you’ll save money in the process.
Reduce the amount of paper that you use in your organization. Identify tasks or processes that require a pen and paper, then work to digitize them.
For instance, if your employee handbook still lives in a physical binder, consider moving the content online and just sharing it with your employees digitally. Doing so will make the handbook much more accessible, as it allows your employees to access is using their own devices.
Your efforts will only go so far if you don’t publicize your involvement in sustainable initiatives. You need to let consumers know what they (and the planet) stand to gain by supporting your business. To do this, you need to incorporate sustainability into how your brand communicates with customers. After all, this won’t be the only reason that your customers support your business; to create a well-rounded brand, you need to show consumers how sustainability fits seamlessly alongside your other selling points as a retailer.
This is where content marketing comes into play. The messaging on your online channels plays a big role in transforming your sustainability efforts into a core part of your brand identity. This is a space for you to answer the bigger questions about what led you as a retailer to embrace a more sustainable business model. At its heart, content marketing is all about storytelling, and focusing on the long-term value of your efforts to consumers and the environment.
In today’s highly competitive world of retail, the need for creating globally recognized shopping assets that stand out from the crowd has become more important than ever before.
At Alpin, we have helped clients ranging from unique regional brands to major Fortune 500 retailers with our retail construction services (Audit Services). We take into account every sustainable aspect of the retail environment to create the exact ambiance you desire – from carefully selecting building materials to considering natural and artificial lighting, indoor environment quality and landscaping. The result is a design that will impress even the most discerning of consumers.
With our commissioning services, we create successful commercial retail construction projects. You save money, time, and resources at every step of your project.
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“On the whole, I was delighted with Alpin’s team, their professional and friendly manner and, above all, a pragmatic consultancy approach aimed at maximizing the value of BREEAM for all stakeholders. I have no hesitation in recommending Alpin to support you in your next sustainability project or initiative.”