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PREDICTIONS 2021 Focus on sustainability

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We’re running a series of predictions for the ecommerce and multichannel retail industry in 2021 and beyond. Today we’re focusing on sustainability – an issue which has gained particular prominence this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Supply chains and logistics will become increasingly green

“There are often four deciding factors with online delivery – cost, convenience, speed and sustainability. With any of us now working from home, convenience becomes less of an issue as the issues around hanging around waiting for a delivery diminish. The recycling market will also continue to develop as customers both look to make their own impact on avoiding landfill as well as looking to generate extra income. Whether through apps or marketplaces, or through channels being offered by many retailers, this new market will also have an impact on new sales as well as the expectations customers have of their retailers.”

Wayne Snyder, VP Retail Industry Strategy at Blue Yonder

Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment and we’re witnessing a rise in the number of consumers and businesses actively making greener decisions. CitySprint’s research of 1,000 UK business owners revealed that 28% plan to improve their supply chain efficiency, with 27% looking to switch to greener suppliers/ partners. 

Looking to 2021, we expect to see more businesses across all verticals embracing green logistics partners in order to minimise their effect on the environment and offer the best and swiftest delivery service for their customers.

Nic Pentelow, Director of Retail at CitySprint

The beginning of the end for fast-fashion

How many times have we ordered an outfit for an event, and worn it once? Items have either stayed trendy for a matter of mere weeks, or we’ve struggled to repeat-wear after a few pictures on social media have circulated. Now that impromptu in-person get-togethers are so few and far between, and special occasions are being celebrated via Zoom, there’s very little need for fashion to be fast.

This lack of urgency, combined with the piqued commitment to sustainability, and a recession-induced spending conservatism, is leading consumers to rethink their relationship with retail in the long-term. Lockdown left many people undertaking mass sort outs of wardrobes, tapping into the ‘Marie Kondo’ mindset, causing us to reassess what we really need and why. In 2021, we’ll see this continued shift towards more careful purchase planning, with buying patterns increasingly reflecting growing consumer interest in more versatile, quality goods. We’re already seeing retailers such as H&M reposition themselves away from the fast fashion association. We expect many more will follow in their footsteps, restructuring in reaction to this pivotal moment.

Melissa Minkow, Retail Industry Lead at CI&T

The sustainability revolution

“Despite 2020 presenting a bit of a step back for a number of sustainability-based initiatives like the reduction in plastic bags in grocery or reusable cups in coffee, we expect to see sustainability once more rise but to top of mind as 2021 progresses. As the country prepares itself for choppy economic conditions, from both the pandemic impact but also the potential challenges ahead with Brexit, we expect to see sustainability initiatives seek to find more synergies between that good for both the planet, but also good for the wallet.

“With climate change and sustainability being front-of mind issues for our social and economic agenda, it is no surprise that consumer attitudes reflect this. Recent research shows that 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability. 

“The start of the new year offers a great opportunity for retailers to take action to meet these changing preferences which will enable them to not only help the environment but also to meet business targets.”

Steve Hewett, Global Retail CX Leader, Capgemini

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