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EDITORIAL ’Tis the season for sustainability, charity and technology

Christmas is far from green this year

As the dust settles on Black Friday, retailers are turning to Christmas and beyond, with attention turning to sustainability, charity and advanced technology as they seek new ways to grow.

With the season of goodwill almost upon us, Sainsbury’s is pledging to raise £3m to help give more hard-up consumers a nice yuletide. At the same time, parcel locker and delivery firm InPost is working with Shelter to use its distribution network to help get donations to the charity for free. Both are to be applauded.

With a more broad reaching charity, more retailers are being urged to focus on sustainability in the coming year. The rise of ecommere, while great for business, is having a damaging effect on the environment, with one economist estimating that it could generate as many as 40,000 extra HGV journeys by 2025.

Already taking action on the environment, fashion retailer New Look has teamed up with Re-Fashion and tech company EVRYTHING to digitise clothing so that it can be traced and its provenance known, aiding its resale and reuse. This, while somewhat experimental, does show not only a commitment to doing things differently, but also that retailers and brands are very open to new technological solutions to many of today’s retail problems.

Sainsbury’s is also on the technology war-path, opening a contact-less, checkout-free store in Holborn in London – down the road form Tesco’s offering, no less – leveraging tech from Amazon’s Go stores.

Greetings card seller Moonpig is similarly looking at how tech can change its business, creating an AR game that neatly ties its TV advertising to its mobile and online sites – something of a new and interesting bridge between channels. Moonpig AR is just for Christmas, but is likely to be the precursor of how advertising in ‘old’ media is going to see some changes in 2022.

Still on the technology front, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has joined forces with every child’s favourite game, Roblox, to create a new award for metaverse design. The metaverse is, we are assured, going to be huge and this award shows that it is going to start in fashion and work its way out.

There is also a growing move to using technology in stores to help staff better help both in-store and online customers.

This shift to technology is all well and good – and these outliers need to be congratulated on creating some exciting new developments – however one can’t lose sight of the basics. Worrying research also points to how more than half of major websites are still not meeting Google’s Core Web Vitals rules and so are not delivering the kind of experience that people now expect.

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