Article By Jon Levy, Country Manager - Australia, Shopline
In today's fast-paced world, the clock is ticking faster than ever on environmental concerns. Sustainability has become a critical factor influencing consumers' choices, with customers increasingly demanding eco-friendly products and responsible business practices from the brands they support. In response to this growing demand, businesses worldwide are striving to incorporate circularity and sustainability into their core business models.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at Ragtrader Live in Melbourne, where I shared insights on how retailers can embark on this transformative journey. The short answer – unified commerce.
For the long answer, keep reading as I delve into the intersection of circularity, sustainability, and unified commerce, and how combining the three provides a path for success.
Three retailer archetypes
Before diving into the details, let's take a step back and categorise retailers based on their sustainability approaches. From my experience, I've identified three main archetypes:
The majority of the retailers I've worked with fall into the second category, where they share a common challenge. They recognise the need to do more for the environment but often struggle to balance sustainability with profitability.
Retailing, especially in the 'rag trade', is notoriously challenging. It involves a complex dance between production, distribution, and customer service, all within the constraints of tight margins and ever-increasing customer expectations. So how can retailers navigate this intricate web?
Issue 1: Supply chain and traceability
One pressing concern is optimising supply chains and enhancing transparency to embrace new sustainability initiatives fully.
The challenge of traceability is significant, but companies like RAMP, Testex, and others offer traceability solutions. These solutions excel at capturing data, yet the journey isn't complete until this information influences customer decisions – a role filled by unified commerce.
However, our potential in this arena extends beyond traceability. Unified commerce and its data unification capabilities offer a single link between sales channels and your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or OMS (Order Management System). With this link in place, we can implement new initiatives faster and continuously refine operations.
Here are some of these solutions:
Issue 2: Operations and delivery
Reducing the carbon footprint of each item while minimising delivery impact is another critical challenge. One noticeable issue with brands struggling in this area is the lack of consideration for customer location in the shipping process. Products often ship from a single location, regardless of the customer's proximity.
But by delivering intelligently, we can significantly reduce environmental impact. Here are five strategies to implement if you haven’t already:
Issue 3: Returns
Did you know more than 24 per cent of retail fashion orders are returned? This is 8 per cent more than any other category. It’s an issue costing businesses billions and comes with sustainability implications.
Returns aren't just a headache for retailers; they also result in a disappointing experience for customers. To address this, give the product the best chance not to be returned by:
If a return becomes necessary, consider offering an in-store return option, which is not only environmentally efficient but also provides an opportunity for customers to exchange the item. In fact, a recent report by Manhattan Associates, highlighted that 73 per cent of Australian shoppers emphasised this as a crucial factor when deciding where to shop; underscoring the value of flexibility, choice, and a consistent omnichannel shopping experience.
As we move forward in an era where sustainability isn't just a trend but a necessity, the convergence of circularity, sustainability, and unified commerce stands as a beacon of hope for the retail industry. By embracing these principles and implementing innovative solutions, retailers can not only reduce their environmental impact but also thrive in a conscious market. Unified commerce serves as the key to unlocking a greener, more sustainable future for retail.
Shopline is Asia's leading unified ecommerce platform, serving as the trusted solution for over 500,000 retailers globally. Want to know more? Reach out to us today to arrange your demo: https://au.shopline.com/
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