Each year, a day is dedicated to Mother Earth. ‘Earth Day’ on Friday the 22nd of April, will see billions of green themed events take place worldwide to raise awareness of the necessity for us all to do something about climate change and global warming. In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions rose by 2.8% according to recent government statistics, which will make the new targets to cut UK CO2 emissions by 34% (of 1990 levels) by 2020 even more difficult to meet.
With these targets in place, there will need to be a considerable amount of change in our lifestyles, especially with consumer habits and the way that retailers in particular might do business.
The ability for consumers to act on their ethical principles fell away during the recession, primarily driven by less disposable income. According to recent research from Shoppercentric, 55% of UK shoppers still feel they can’t afford to act on their environmental urges, but with these new government targets, awareness of and encouragement to use sustainable businesses and products will increase over time.
Retailers that might consider this to be a passing phase should rethink. Online retailers are already in a good position to jump on the green band wagon. Shoppers believe it is far greener to sit on the sofa at home with a cup of tea and buy a new kettle, than to hop in the car and go to the nearest town for a good old browse. According to a new e-Customer Service Index study conducted by the IMRG and eDigitalResearch, of 2000 consumers polled, 36% preferred to shop online and 74.6% of this group said that reducing pollution was one of the deciding factors.
So listen up retailers! You need to start talking about your green credentials. Here are some tips to help you out…
Start off by coming up with a plan on how your business can fight against global warming. It’s the little things that can count remember. Examine the different areas of your business both online and offline to see what could easily be changed and how.
Communicate your ethical and environmental policies and agenda with your customers and target audience. You can do this by engaging with consumers on your social networks, in your newsletter or blogging about your company’s efforts to be green so that your message is accessible for everyone.
Educate your staff
Make sure all your staff members are adhering to your green policies as far as possible, for example by reducing, reusing and recycling.
There is no point in making a plan for your business if you have not educated your staff in your agenda. Communicate to your employees about the green options they and you have and how your business wants to contribute to the low carbon economic revolution! Your staff will then think about their own individual contribution and make positive changes, such as cycling to work rather than driving and sitting in traffic!
Customer reward programmes
Partner with sustainable reward programmes like www.myice.com. Ice is a new reward scheme identifying sustainable products and services. Ice then rewards customers generously with credits when they choose to buy that sustainable product, which they then can spend across Ice partner companies.
Consumers need a bit of encouragement to spend that little bit more, as many ethical products are seen to be carrying a premium price tag. Incentives like this at Ice will encourage shoppers to engage and buy through your brand, and retailers will start to see a gain in sustainable brand recognition. You could even go that one step further and create your own reward scheme for the customer that chooses to buy your ethical products and brands.
Send it green
Offer green delivery options to your customers. Use environmentally friendly delivery services such as Royal Mail (yes they are trying!). If it is possible, use a local delivery service in regional areas to reduce long distance travel. Make sure that all products are packaged sensibly and that you don’t send small object’s in ridiculously oversized boxes. Try and use recycled materials for packaging and printing where you can.
So there are just a few tips on how retailers can start communicating and thinking about introducing a more ethical approach to their business. With Earth Day 2011 just round the corner, it’s a good time to start thinking about implementing a greener business plan. Get celebrating our planet and help her out as best you can!