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EDITORIAL How the UK is leading the world in ethical retail

Image: Adobe Stock

The news that retailer QUIZ is ramping up its ‘green’ agenda comes as no surprise. Research out this week from Adobe suggests that UK shoppers are now the most ethically driven in the world, with 60% saying they would switch to brands that represent the values that are important to them.

Almost nine in 10 (87%) say their values and things they care about are playing a greater role in how and where they choose to shop with many retailers now looking to out-promote each other around their purpose and green credentials.

This shift in how consumers view brands and how they want to reflect that in how they shop has changed radically during the pandemic, with not only online become a necessity then an integral part of the shopping journey, but also the rise in ethical thinking.

With time at home and the pandemic in full swing, many consumers had pause for thought and reflected on the impact we all have on the world. The fact that this has now translated into changes in shopping habits was unexpected but welcome.

Now many brands and retailers are actively tapping into these desires and the retail industry must be one of the leading sectors in putting ethical and sustainable methods at the core of what they do.

QUIZ offers a fine example. It plans to switch the business to 100% carbon free renewable energy across QUIZ’s head office, distribution centre and 67 stores across the UK and Ireland. This develops on QUIZ’s move to energy-saving lighting across its distribution centre and headquarters over the past few years, to reduce consumption.

The introduction of 100% renewable energy will save more than 900 tonnes of carbon each year, and this figure will increase through the introduction of other smaller scale initiatives, including the switch to zero carbon paper and carbon neutral water dispensers across of the business.

In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, QUIZ has taken steps to drive down its environmental impact through dramatically reducing the amount of waste produced across its supply chain. Most notably the company launched 100% recycled and recyclable bags for all e-commerce orders and in-store purchases – a big step forward that reduced its annual virgin plastic use by 40 tonnes.

This is quite an undertaking but one that, while ethically driven, will drive growth and revenues. Balancing these with ethics is always going to be hard to pull off, but retailers seem to be managing to do so.

Could it be that this is why more shoppers are starting to once again use retailer and brand sites to search and buy than marketplaces? Research suggests that 46% of UK shoppers now start a product search on the retailer or brand site they know they can buy it from, rather than a marketplace. This compares to just 25% who start a search via online marketplaces, including Amazon.

Of course, retailers have spent a lot of time and money upping their online game – and now it is paying off – however, headlines about marketplace working practices may also be playing a role in the choices consumers make.

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