James Mellan-Matulewicz, Design Expert and Creative Director at sustainable wallpaper brand, Bobbi Beck, outlines how retailers can manage their sustainability efforts and still offer customers the deals they’ve come to expect
The accelerated rise of Black Friday has meant that retailers and ecommerce businesses find it harder and harder to not participate. However, the additional digital footprint, carbon emissions and packaging waste can hit businesses sustainability credentials.
Black Friday produces more and more of a snowball effect every year, with businesses worried that if they don’t get involved, they’ll lose vital sales. Yet the effects of this consumer focussed event can be at odds with sustainability targets. It’s a fine line but there are ways to manage it.
- Use recyclable packaging
The first port of call and perhaps one of the easiest ways to balance additional order volumes is to only use 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. This is one of the biggest areas of waste across Black Friday so investing in better quality packaging will go some way to offsetting it. Avoid plastics as much as possible and look for paper void fill or biodegradable alternatives.
- Avoid next day delivery
This may be controversial in a climate where next day delivery is now almost expected, but the pressure on carriers to get items across the country in 24 hours is the source of avoidable carbon emissions. Offering a more standard service means you can bulk together lots more parcels and send them all in one go to one area rather than sending little and often. Run offers that are worth waiting for so that your customers don’t mind an extra day or two.
- Offset your emissions
Displaying your sustainability credentials early on in the user journey can actually help customers to convert. More conscious shoppers will prefer to buy from stores that are actively offsetting their carbon output. Planting trees, investing in solar power or using only ethically sourced materials are all ways to do good.
For ecommerce stores using Shopify, you can integrate an eco-cart plugin that shows customers how much carbon their purchase produces and how they can offset this by buying from you and not somebody else. It works by businesses contributing to an eco-friendly initiative every time they make a sale so that all orders are carbon neutral. That way, you positively impact sustainability and increase conversions.”
If your product allows it, you could consider a ‘recommerce’, or buy-back scheme, to balance out new purchases with old ones. Customers can return old items for a voucher or discount and you, as a retailer, can make sure they are disposed of properly, reused or resold elsewhere. The high volumes of sales over the Black Friday trading period means a lot of old items will go unused. Offering to buy them back gives your customer an incentive to shop with you and ensures things aren’t just being dumped in tips or ending up in landfill.
- Charity donations
There are many wonderful environmental charities that would benefit from the boost of Black Friday expenditure. Look at ones that align closely with your values, or that work in your local community, and partner with them to offer a percentage of Black Friday profits. You could go one step further and incorporate this all year round. Some of the biggest brands in the world have even given 100% of their profits to charities during Black Friday. Whilst that isn’t possible for many businesses, it goes to show that there is a focus on sustainability from all angles and getting involved is a great way to show you care about the planet as much as profits.
As a business it can be easy to go into Black Friday only really thinking about the competition and how not to get lost. Yet setting yourself apart as a retailer that thinks about sustainability as well as sales can be a big attraction for a lot of buyers. Don’t do it purely as a marketing tactic as consumers can see through that, but take time in the run up to see what good you genuinely can do.
James Mellan-Matulewicz is CEO of luxury, sustainable wallpaper brand Bobbi Bobbi Beck