RetailX Renew is a major programme of research, content and peer inspiration and support as the retail sector (re)builds post-pandemic. We call this programme “Renew” since retailers and brands are renewing their covenants with customers, staff and shareholders to create sustainable operations.
Retailers and direct to consumer brands are being compelled by our customers, competitors, peers and personal conviction to embrace sustainability in retail.
Sustainability covers all aspects of direct to consumer commerce and challenges the idea that retail is solely focused on the ‘moment of purchase’.
In working towards a sustainable retail sector we need to consider our business though additional lenses:
Sustainable over the long term – no unicorns, get-rich-quick, boom and bust activities, but rather sustained profits for staff and investors over the long term. Gilt-edged business, not snake-oil, smoke and mirrors
Sustainable products – products without harm to the environment or workers, ideally long-lived and recyclable, with the profits of productions shared equitably throughout the supply chain
Sustainable customer relationships – moving to customer lifetime value
Sustainable operations – minimising waste, eliminating our operating foodprint and scaling profitably without harm.
Sustainability is a complex and nuanced topic that we need to work around the board table, through the supply chain and across our industries to drive progress.
However the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good – small, real steps now are more important than good intentions for some future date.
COVID-19’s pandemic has accelerated and accentuated the imperative to consider sustainability in the round. The challenge of continued operation is, if anything, more immediate that even mid-term sustainability. Consumers are returning to retail at a slower pace than hoped, indicating that the promote-and-push retailing formats of the Age of Excess may have passed their peak. Equally, investing in sustainable products and operations is more difficult given the disruption to the sourcing of materials, the fragility of the supply chain (human, physical and economic) and of course the increased call for single-use packaging for hygiene.
The result is that the theme of Renewing Retail is a mix of immediate imperative, reconnecting with consumers and creating a sustainable operating model that is resilient in the face of the ongoing challenges and tests.