Our global overconsumption of energy and resources is a known issue. It’s reflected in the fact that, for example, Earth Overshoot Day 2022 for Germany was set at 4 May. The organisation Global Footprint Network has worked out that if the entire world’s population lived like the people of Germany, then all the available resources that can be regenerated sustainably for the whole year in purely mathematical terms would already be used up by that date.
A rethink is long overdue in all areas and this poses an additional challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers. After all, customers looking to reduce their carbon footprint are not simply reconsidering their own behaviour but also putting brands, products and retailers under the microscope.
There are a variety of ways to create a positive carbon footprint, with avoiding waste being one major area. After all, the less rubbish we produce, the less energy is wasted on disposing of it and the fewer raw materials are consumed to produce unnecessary things. Customers participating in the zero-waste movement look for unpackaged goods, only buy what they really need and choose products that can be composted, refilled and recycled. The onus is on retailers to have tailored solutions and suitable products in their range.
A zero-waste space is a building in which sustainability is to the fore. The terms avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot and compost stand for a sustainable way of life. In the area of shopfitting, the focus should therefore be on flexible furniture (which can be easily adapted to different product presentations), high-quality products, vintage elements and recyclable materials. Only a small amount of energy should be needed to keep the store at a pleasant room temperature and the lighting system should combine energy efficiency with the emotional aspect of light.
Revamping a store’s look from time to time to freshen up the customer experience doesn’t have to mean throwing all the current elements in the bin. Display items that will no longer be used but are still in good condition can be sold as second-hand, and there are even specific vendors for this online. Sometimes all existing fixtures need is a new coat of paint or a makeover with a few selected vintage items.
Business owners are advised to opt for systems with a multi-year availability guarantee and to give preference to recycled materials and regional products and companies that can deliver straightforwardly and without having to cover long distances.
Instead of lots of disposable pens, put a good fountain pen with replaceable cartridges alongside a clutch pencil, a dry highlighter, unpainted colouring pencils made from wood from sustainable forestry, a wooden ruler, an eraser made from natural rubber and paper adhesive tape. Notebooks don’t need coloured plastic covers and can instead be coloured with crayons. Everything needed is to hand, everything else is passed on – this keeps the desk drawer tidy and the desk orderly. The good news for retailers is that customers who value sustainable products are very willing to pay more for good quality.
Ideas and creativity are needed to reflect the zero-waste concept in product presentations. Upcycling and natural materials can be used to create eye-catching displays without adding to the waste pile.
Twigs, moss and grass work well in tabletop designs for craft materials in the autumn. Tin cans or jars filled with pens, paperclips, erasers and stamps can be dangled on colourful ribbons above a table. And high-quality fabrics, glass containers, baskets and wooden podiums can be used year after year for different presentations. Businesses with multiple stores should take existing presentations “on a tour” of their various outlets, while specialist retailers should encourage manufacturing companies to set up a décor pool and make decorative elements available to borrow.
We can take an important first step by realising that disposable packaging and other waste are valuable resources and also speaking with suppliers about how much plastic waste is used to package goods. We can all carry this commitment further in discussions with customers and on social media and make our world a more sustainable place through many small steps.
Find out from Sabine Gauditz at InsightsTalks how you can design a more eco-friendly POS. She will give a talk from 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm on Friday, 7 October 2022, at Insights-X in the InsightsArena on the topic of the green point of sale.