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credit: Nazli Mozaffari

Five ways retail can become more sustainable: Tips from our expert

Sustainability is on everyone’s mind right now. Politicians and businesses are increasingly under pressure from the idealistic younger generation. Meanwhile, up to 40 percent of consumers worldwide now choose brands based on how much they align with their values. People are demanding — and willing to pay more for — transparent, uncompromising eco-friendly products and services.

In response, purchase decisions are being made on the basis of these new priorities, and we’re starting to see companies become aware of sustainability as an issue aside from profit. Brands and retailers are increasingly making an effort to offer sustainable products, and setting themselves ambitious goals. Many, however, are still neglecting the Point of Sale, which is crucial in terms of communicating with customers and reassuring them that sustainability efforts are authentic and meaningful. What eco-conscious customer wants to shop in a store full of single-use or non-recyclable materials?

Our experience as a partner of well-known lifestyle brands has shown that shifting just a few fundamental approaches can spearhead more sustainable solutions. Torsten Dietz, LIGANOVA’s Director of Global Point of Sale Campaigns, reveals five top tips for brands looking to overhaul their Point of Sale to embody authentic eco credentials:

1) Optimize reuse

Many physical marketing activations — be it trade marketing or classic window campaigns — are often considered isolated projects because of their temporary nature. These campaigns should aim to reuse modular elements, from digital components to the basic modules of window campaigns. The more ways they can be reused, the more sustainable they become.

2) Green is the new black

Some materials are better for our world in the long term than others. Materials that have a smaller CO2 footprint and are biodegradable — or at least recyclable — are the key players of the 21st century. However, it’s precisely this information about materials that is lacking, and so we must demand that suppliers and service providers take responsibility and provide standard sustainability criteria. Sustainable materials are not necessarily more expensive, and quickly help to reduce CO2 emissions — in our experience, by an average of over 60 percent. Central to this effort is a materials database, because knowledge really is power.

3) Everything starts with design

Design will ultimately define whether the store or the marketing activation is truly sustainable. It’s at the design stage that material is saved, shipping volumes reduced, and production made conducive to an eco-aware output. If you make the wrong decisions at the outset, you can’t complain about the end result — that’s like saying: “If that’s the solution, I want my problem back.”

Sustainability is not a question of gut feeling — it requires transparency.

4) Measure, measure, measure!

Sustainability is not a question of gut feeling — it requires transparency. Many factors need to be considered; for example, in the case of cradle-to-grave, a systematic analysis of products’ impacts on the environment. That’s why the aim should be to identify as many unanswered questions as possible, in order to attain the insight required to make sound decisions. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions as far as possible, and offset what is unavoidable.

5) Loop instead of chain

Ultimately, we need a sustainable loop. The Earth’s resources are limited and need to be restored, because the world is living beyond its means. Manufacturers must give back what they take from the environment. Google, for example, says it has offset its historical carbon footprint going back to the company’s founding, and is now aiming to become carbon free. Why shouldn’t retail also become part of the climate change solution, rather than remaining part of the problem?

Veja store in Paris: In a room there are many Veja shoes on a white pedestal. There are also shoes on the walls.
Veja — Paris Store, credit: FASHIONUNITED

Stores such as Veja in New York, Ace & Tate in Antwerp, Stella McCartney in London, Freitag in Amsterdam and others are showing that the last mile to the customer can also be made greener. A new and consistently implemented customer journey based on the “reduce, reuse, recycle” hierarchy will significantly improve a brand’s reputation among critical consumers. Those who offer it will reap the rewards.

Learn more about The Next Generation of Stores in our articles part #1 and part #2.

Click here for the German version of this article.

About the author

In his role as Managing Director, Torsten Dietz leads the Global POS Campaigns division at LIGANOVA as well as the LIGAPRODUCTION production facility. With over 10 years of experience in international retail marketing and a keen sense for the changing retail landscape, he focuses on the development of sustainable and digital concepts for the point-of-sale of international brands.


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