How to Take Your Retail Spaces to a Sustainable Level
The times when a brand's only purpose was to produce and sell goods are ancient history. Keeping up with the customer's desire that brands address ethical and environmental issues, is calling out for a sustainable reasoning.
The role of corporations in society is changing. On the basis of globalisation and international activities of businesses, consumers increasingly focus on a firm’s reputation. Calling it "new consumerism", consumers think deeply about what they truly value before they make purchases. As a result, a comprehensive understanding about serious issues like sustainability, authenticity and transparency is built.
A report by Unilever suggested already last year an estimated EUR 966 bn in untapped market potential exists for brands who are clear about their sustainability credentials. One can imagine that the demand of transparency is higher than ever before and still increasing.
Many brands are already playing a big part in transforming industries into more sustainable and socially responsible ones (Corporate Social Responsibility). TOMS for example lives by its 1 for 1 philosophy. With every pair of shoes you purchase the brand is giving one pair to a child in need. People Tree puts emphasis on fair trade practices and supports producers in the developing world across its processes.
Playing a role in sustainable practices is crucial for a brand to be favoured by the public and specific target groups. This favour can be deepened into strong customer relationships.
Physical stores are the display for a brand's identity and contribute hugely to the maintenance of a consistent brand image. This is why sustainability should not only focus on production processes or labour conditions but should furthermore be applied to retail design.
When the thoughts drift to designing retail spaces with keeping sustainability in mind, it is important to consider that it has nothing to do with "doing less" (Daan Roosegaarde, Artist). The need actually emphasises on "doing more". Roosegarde explains it by taking airplanes as an example - instead of flying less, you simply design better airplanes.
How to design your retail spaces into sustainable actors on the market? Here are 7 tips to "go green" in brick-and-mortar stores.
1. Use recyclable material in window design
Hereby you do not just help protecting the environment but you already make a sustainable statement within your window display. As it is known the eyes are the windows to the soul - window displays are just as revealing. You can be as creative as you want, use the art of Visual Merchandising and go green!
2. Use natural elements in interior design
As the interior design is the key aspect of retail construction, the store fixture is a core element and representing your brand identity. Implement plants into your interior design. They create a homely and fresh atmosphere. Green elements also boost positive emotions and perception of the customer.
3. Use natural lightning as much as possible
Natural lightning does not only create an enchanting and pleasant vibe in your store but also helps you to save a lot of money and energy costs. Probably not all of your employees switch off the light when leaving a room that is not much used during working hours (like staff room, storage etc.). A solution is automatic lighting controls and sensors that will increase energy saving when lights are not in use.
4. Be efficient with heating and cooling
Same story. You do not have to heat or cool your store constantly. The systems can consume a lot of energy. How about installing a programmable thermostat? This way, rooms that have minimal traffic like storage rooms or warehouses can be adjusted to the temperature they need. Another important thing is to change your air filter regularly. Change the filter as soon as it looks dirty but at least every three months.
5. Go paperless with email receipts
Banning the traditional receipts will not only help you to act in an eco-friendly way but will release your customers' wallets by being overfilled with paper. Many retailers have chosen the option to use email receipts. Customers fill in their email address on an iPad and the receipt will automatically be sent to them. You can additionally offer the option to sign them up for your customer loyalty programme or your newsletter. This way you grow your customer network (of course, after they gave you consent to do so - little GDPR hint)
6. Encourage reusable bags
Customers consciously decide to not take a new plastic bag every time they go shopping. They take reusable bags along their mission. Why don't you produce and offer them yourself? This way you are also able to drive brand awareness. Imagine all the people walking around the city with a reusable bag where others can see your logo on it. Reusable tote bags are becoming a thing increasingly, not only from a sustainable perspective but even from a fashionable one. Step on the tote bag train!
7. The most important thing: communicate your sustainability efforts
All your efforts remain useless if you do not communicate! Communication is the key to everything. Discuss your sustainability strategies on your company's website, spread the word via Social Media and integrate it in the talks you have with your customers in-store. As we all know, word-of-mouth - offline and online - is the most efficient marketing.
Are you ready to take your retail design to a sustainable level? Learn how our solutions can help your retail business.
Written by Madeline Ana Vidak