Sustainability Tips for Retailers on Earth Day 2021

A quick Google search of “sustainable shopping” will reveal both the search intent of users and retailers’ business strategies. Headlines revolve around Earth Day sales and eco-friendly products to buy, highlighting the oxymoronic nature of buying more when celebrating a day meant to conserve.

Instead of posting a graphic on social media and offering a SAVEEARTH promo code, use Earth Day 2021 as a time to brush up on sustainable retail tips. Learn how you can make an impact and appeal to the large group of consumers who prefer to support eco-conscious retailers. Below, we’ll go over our eco-friendly shopping survey results and then share tips on how retailers can implement changes to appeal to these shoppers.

Eco-Friendly Shopping Survey Results: Why it Matters

1. Online Shoppers Are More Inclined to Shop with Eco-Friendly Companies

We surveyed more than 1,300 online shoppers in April 2021 and found that the majority of respondents would be more inclined to shop with an eco-friendly company. This sentiment is even higher among younger demographics, with 76% of 25 to 29-year-olds, 74% of 30 to 34-year-olds, and 71% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying the same.

Eco-friendly practices such as sustainable packaging and ethical sourcing of material are also most important among younger generations, with 41% of Millennials (25 to 34-year-olds) saying it is very important that an ecommerce business follows eco-friendly practices (e.g., sustainable packaging, ethical sourcing of material, etc.). Gen Z agrees, with 38% of 18 to 21-year-olds saying the same.

graph importance of retailers following eco-friendly practices

When it comes to all ages, the response is similar: nearly half of shoppers say eco-friendly practices are somewhat important for ecommerce businesses, and 35% say it’s very important. Only 19% of those surveyed say it’s not important at all.

Gender also plays a role in a shopper’s preference, with men being twice as likely as women to say eco-friendly practices are not important at all.

These two points highlight the need for stores with a younger or predominantly female customer base to focus on their environmental impact and how consumers perceive their operations.

How do your customers feel about your brand? Schedule a call to learn how you can start collecting voice of customer data for free with Bizrate’s survey solutions. 

2. Lack of Sustainable Shipping Options Could Risk Customer Loyalty

sustainable retail tips pie chart

Recent data has shown customer loyalty is directly tied to customer experience and individual shopping perks such as loyalty program benefits. However, 22% of respondents say that they would switch to a competitor that leverages eco-conscious practices, and 51% would consider it. With such a wide majority of people who would consider leaving your brand based on your environmental impact, you can’t afford to ignore the topic.

Combine the two factors and improve your CX by investing in eco-conscious practices that also create a more convenient experience. Examples include offering cashless pay, email receipts, and offering a discount for shoppers who bring their own reusable bags.

3. Consumers Want to Recycle and Reuse

what do consumers do with shipping packaging graph

A whopping 70% of survey respondents said they recycle packaging if they can, while 12% say they reuse it. Make it easier for customers to extend the life of packaging material by focusing on sustainable design where your materials have secondary uses.

One creative example of this is a British company, Monday’s Child, which sells girl’s clothing. Their shipping containers can be turned into a dollhouse.

Since consumers prefer to shop with eco-conscious brands, have a desire to recycle and reuse packaging materials, and 73% of shoppers would consider switching to a competitor who follows sustainable practices, it’s time to make a change.

Tips for Retailers Looking to Be More Eco-Friendly

There are many ways for retailers to improve their sustainability. Cutting down on waste and leveraging renewable energy are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but if your company isn’t ready to make big changes, start small.

Here are a few ways to focus on your environmental impact and demonstrate that you care about the planet and your customer’s values.

  1. Ask your customers what matters to them.

Make it common practice to survey customers about their shopping experience and find out what matters most. Be sure to ask reasonable questions and focus on the business practices you have the power to change.

For example, if you cannot update how you source your product materials, don’t ask if they would like you to change that. Instead, offer feasible options that have a positive impact. These small changes can be a great place to start if your business is brand new to sustainability.

  1. Tell your customers about new initiatives and updates.

If you are implementing small changes, share on social media, send an email, and encourage store employees to tell shoppers about the updates. If you have made a significant investment or radical change to your business operations, consider a press release to draw more attention to your news.

  1. Establish transparency on your progress.

If you are heavily invested in making a change, publish an annual report on your manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and waste production and pledge to reduce by a certain amount each year. This accountability can have a great impact on how much consumers trust your brand because you are making a public commitment to change. This can be particularly helpful if your plans will be implemented over several years and you want to draw attention to it now.

Sustainable Retail Tips

One step forward is better than none at all. Here is a short list of ideas your brand can use to kick start your own sustainable retail initiatives.

  1. Switch to sustainable packaging for online shipments. Try boxes made of recycled material, biodegradable fillers, and more appropriately sized packages.
  2. Pledge to donate a percentage of profits to climate change efforts.
  3. Create a corporate social responsibility program focused on environmental impact.
  4. Provide the option for email receipts and paperless billing for credit cards.
  5. Offer a discount for shoppers who bring their own reusable bags.
  6. Start a recycling program where customers can bring relevant items that are hard to safely recycle (such as batteries) at your store.
  7. Sponsor a local nonprofit and get involved with their events.
  8. Use eco-friendly products (e.g., water-efficient sinks, LED or CFL light bulbs, filtered water jug instead of bottles) in your store and offices.

Above all, be honest with your team and your customers in your dedication to becoming more sustainable. Focus on the impact you have and how you can continue to improve to make a lasting difference. Check back with the Bizrate blog for more insights on how you can tap into the minds of your customers.