- Sustainability in Retail is as important and profound a paradigm shift as digital transformation.
- Redesigning a brand’s store concept to make it more sustainable means intervening throughout the supply chain, not just at the point-of-sale.
Sustainability has generated an undeniable attraction in society in general and in retail in particular. Fewer and fewer sectors and brands can afford not to incorporate respect for the planet into their corporate objectives.
Until now, this odyssey has focused on two aspects of brands and retailers: day-to-day operations and products or services. This is logical because the former is the easiest to control and the latter has the greatest impact on the relationship with the consumer. Two relatively quick wins.
But sustainability is far from being a fad. Consumers are demanding an increasing involvement of companies in caring for the planet. They are calling for a complete transformation that encompasses the entire supply chain. This has ended up putting the spotlight on a third aspect of FMCG companies that combines daily operations and products: the shops.
In today’s post, we outline 5 tips for incorporating sustainability as a visible attribute in the redesign of a brand’s shop concept.
1. Sustainability is a value, not an action
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand sustainability as something that affects the brand at all levels. Putting a single piece of furniture, a single product line or a single sign as a marketing staple is no longer enough for consumers. The user considers these practices as greenwashing and ignores them or, directly, penalises them.
Putting sustainability at the heart of a brand’s redesign means rethinking everything about its points-of-sale. Here are some examples of how to turn them into environmentally responsible shops:
- The materials and processes used in the furniture.
- Waste management.
- The rotation of consumable material.
- The separability of packaging and bags.
- The energy consumption of the establishment.
- The logistics required to implement the new concept in all points-of-sale.
- The role of retail outlets in last-mile logistics.
- The social impact of the shop in the surrounding area.
This is all part of the brand’s relationship with the consumer and society, of which both are part. Therefore, to the extent that customers perceive the brand’s involvement in making all these points (and more) sustainable, their consideration of the brand will increase.
2. Incorporate the “life cycle” concept into your brand, products and shops
One of the keys to sustainability in the Retail sector is the concept of “life cycle”. It helps us to analyse goods and services beyond their production and sale, and therefore, their environmental impact.
The clearest example of being negligent in this basic sustainability issue is plastic islands. They have become a major threat to oceans and we can see many of them forming electronic waste dumps, sadly common in African countries. On a microeconomic level, these situations may seem excessive to us. However, consumers increasingly associate them with the brands that produce and market the products that end up in this waste.
To apply life cycle to our new shop concept we can:
- Highlight the value of the production process and the recirculation of elements and products, transmitting it to the consumer as part of the storytelling.
- Find ways to give a second life to elements of the shop within the new redesign.
- Involve consumers in the recirculation of the waste generated by our products. For years, supermarkets in Northern Europe have been collecting aluminium and plastic beverage containers from consumers and refunding part of the cost.
3. When considering change, eco-design it.
Eco-design is currently the most important trend in almost all areas of the industrial world, especially in the sustainable retail sector. The name itself is quite explanatory: applying environmentally friendly practices when designing a product or service.
At HMY we follow the 10 precepts of eco-design when designing, manufacturing and installing shops, stands and POS, seeking to make them as sustainable as possible:
- Use as little material as possible.
- Facilitate the separation of goods.
- Use of environmentally friendly raw materials.
- Design to last.
- Multifunction, recycling and reuse.
- Optimisation of packaging and logistics.
- Design of services that can replace products.
- Use of technologies that facilitate sustainability.
- Use of standard systems where possible.
- Ecomarketing, promoting consumer awareness through design.
4. Sustainability is more than recycling
Another concept we incorporate in HMY, together with life cycle and eco-design, is that of second life. This means that thanks to our network of warehouses and assembly teams, we can offer our customers the dismantling, reconditioning and reinstallation of their shop furniture.
This concept is particularly useful in the management of multiple closures and openings, which are very common in expanding brands.
5. Be aware of the sustainable possibilities
It is difficult for brands to have the time or the necessary expertise to be able to put it into practice outside their scope of action (operations and products). However, it is easier if we are aware of the latest trends in sustainable development that any retailer can now apply to their points-of-sale.
We compiled them recently in this post:
- Vita: textile decorations.
- Digital signage.
- Furniture in FSC and PEFC timber.
- Organic labellers.
- Polyurethanes of organic origin.
- Zenith ceilings and wall slats.
- Gondolas and walls made of second-generation steel.
- Visual communication with recycled and recyclable supports, ECO inks and air-purifying coatings (Pureti).