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Consumer demand for sustainability not going anywhere, retailers must adapt

As traditional retailers move online and the transport of products around the world continues to increase, now is the time for brands to prioritise sustainability and to consider their direct impact the environment on a global scale.

The environment and the future of our world has never been so important to Australian consumers. As such, success as a retail business – and in the ecommerce industry as a whole – is dependant on retailers actively taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint and to ensure their practices align with a sustainable future.

Sustainability is the new black

In recent years we’ve seen a shift in consumer preference when it comes to sustainability, with activists and consumers alike demanding brands be more eco-friendly. In fact, according to a recent study by BigCommerce, more than half (56 per cent) of Aussies consider the environmental impact of their purchase when shopping online.

Companies like Zero Co, have jumped on the sustainability and social consciousness bandwagon, successfully creating entire businesses around environmental and sustainable options. Earlier this year, over four million people worldwide participated in the climate strike.

Movements like these show the scale of people advocating toward a sustainable future and highlights the lengths in which they are willing to go to help save the planet. It’s now crucial that brands adjust their business models accordingly, or risk falling behind.

For what it’s Earth

It’s clear that the customer experience doesn’t stop at the shopping cart. From production to delivery and everywhere in between, consumers are thorough in their expectations and are starting to demand a level of sustainability at every stage of their journey. These demands are having a real impact on a local level.

Off the back of consumer calls for greater eco-accountability, Coles and its rival brand Woolworths have lead the way in recent years, eliminating single-use plastic bags from their stores. The action has seen other retail brands follow suit with reusable bags now the sole-option available in Kmart and other retailers all around the country.

Increasing pressure from consumers has seen global brands like Amazon make a serious commitment to sustainability, establishing innovative programs which offer consumers eco-friendly shipping options.

Sustainability will play a growing role in retail and ecommerce in the years to come – it’s not a passing phase. According to a study from HP and Planet Ark, consumers are willing to spend more money on sustainable brands and that 90 percent of Australian’s are concerned about the environment and sustainability.

From production to delivery and everything in between, brands not only need to be conscious of the materials and the products they are using and the impact they are having on the environment, but also be able to share the information with their consumers in a transparent and open way.

It might be coincidence but while we stand on the precipice of global environmental awareness and change, competition in the online retail space has never been higher. Businesses looking to succeed in the space have a real opportunity to stand out and lead the way in terms of environmental sustainability and the future of retail in Australia.

Shannon Ingrey is Vice President and General Manager APAC at BigCommerce.

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Shannon Ingrey

Shannon Ingrey

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