Retail & Distribution

Sustainability in Retail: Opportunities and Challenges

16 November 2023

Sustainability in Retail: Opportunities and Challenges
4 min
Investing in sustainability in retail is important to meet customer needs and essential to grow and stay competitive. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of retail companies emphasize sustainability by incorporating eco-friendly materials in their market presence, as reported by a survey of retail Chief Experience Officers (CXOs). This commitment encompasses the use of recycled materials and those with lower carbon emissions.

In the current business landscape, sustainability stands as a critical factor for success. Deloitte’s CxO Sustainability Report 2023 reveals that 73% of Chief Experience Officers (CxOs) in the consumer goods sector upped their sustainability investments in 2022.

Evidently, businesses face mounting pressure from various stakeholders, including customers, board members, and regulators, all advocating for sustainability. Those able to craft robust sustainability strategies find themselves well-positioned to enhance their brand image and reputation.


Sustainability in Retail: Unpacking the how

CxOs surveyed by Deloitte focused their sustainability endeavors on these key areas::

  • use of more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials (63 percent)
  • greater efficiency in energy use (62 percent)
  • selection of more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly machinery, technologies and tools (53 percent)
  • development of new climate-friendly products and services (50%)
  • training employees and contractors on climate change actions and their impact (48%)

The more sustainability is integrated into retail business models, new aspects emerge, creating compelling opportunities for strategic and meaningful investments.


3 strategic pillars for building sustainable retail operations

Validation of the pivotal role sustainability plays in retail comes from NRF: Retail’s Big Show, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual Convention & EXPO in New York City. Explore these three essential factors for retailers navigating the growing landscape of sustainability integration:

  • Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Every business is at a different point in its journey toward sustainable business. That’s why it’s important to look at those companies that have been developing social and environmental sustainability strategies for the longest time and take an example.
  • Sustainability is a group effort. Every role in the retail sector can be rethought or otherwise transformed from a sustainable perspective. Sustainable development actions are most effective when they involve the expertise of multiple people and departments. This is a cultural evolution that requires new technologies to support it.
  • Consumers have different sustainability needs. An increasingly significant percentage of people are looking for more sustainable products. In particular, younger consumers – the famous Generation Z – which are richer and more educated. However, individuals pay attention to different elements: some focus on packaging, some on the overall impact of the product within the package, and some on the carbon footprint of brands more generally.


The primary hurdle in the journey toward sustainability

According to data from the World Resources Institute’s GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, more than 90 percent (and sometimes up to 98 percent) of the emissions associated with retailers’ activities are not under their direct control, but depend on the supply chain for products, services, and distribution. Companies therefore need to work together with partners and suppliers who share their focus on sustainability and use advanced tools to monitor and measure the entire production and distribution chain.

Cegid Retail ecosystem’s products ensure that you can rely on a supplier that is attentive to its carbon footprint and at the same time allow you to manage your retail operations in a simple and agile way, providing a highly flexible shopping experience that meets the expectations of the most demanding customers.


Learn more about the four pillars of sustainability in retail

Sustainability in Retail:
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