Over the last few years, the retail sector has experienced more change than most. Online retail services have fundamentally altered business models for almost every retailer, as customers have come to like and expect easy, quick, intuitive shopping experiences.
The internet has also served to break down many old geographical barriers for retailers and open up new markets. While this has delivered plenty of opportunity to expand reach globally, it has also dramatically increased competition and forced retailers to work harder to hold onto market share.
Alongside all this, the retail sector also has to play its part in the fight against climate change, and adapt operations to become more sustainable in the long-term. This blog explores how retail businesses can achieve this as part of their wider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy, and how technology can help.
The importance of ESG targets for retail
The need for sustainability within retail operations is now critical. For starters, retailers will increasingly find themselves under legal pressure to reduce their emissions, as part of the UK Government’s pledge to reach Net Zero by 2050.
But there is also a social and moral expectation for greener retail, too: according to Forbes, three-quarters of consumers across all age groups want the businesses they buy from to operate more sustainably and offer similarly sustainable products. Those companies that are unable to do so are finding themselves losing customers to competitors that are.
While the need to respond to sustainability demands is well-known, many retailers struggle to know where to start in addressing them. This is where an ESG strategy proves crucial, as they can set realistic targets to work towards, and can properly plan out ways of embedding greener operations into products, pricing and supply chains.
Improving business efficiency through more sustainable processes
IT is an area where many efficiencies can be found to reduce emissions or energy use within retail businesses. By moving away from paper-based, manual processes and towards automation, retailers can simultaneously improve their operations and boost their sustainability efforts. These three examples demonstrate what’s possible:
- SaaS print management solutions: all print and document management needs can be outsourced to an expert partner, including desktop printers, scanners, documents and workflows. This can help optimise document lifecycles, improve information security, save money and reduce waste.
- HR automation: implementing a HR platform where many repetitive processes are automated can help employees get faster answers to their queries and therefore better experiences. They can access documents more easily, update details autonomously, benefit from smoother onboarding processes, and interact better with their employer.
- Remote field services: the ability for a third party to fix IT issues remotely reduces the need for technical support teams to travel in person to resolve those problems. Not only does this reduce business disruption by drastically reducing fix times, but it also cuts out the substantial emissions burden caused by travelling to different sites.
The key benefits for implementing sustainable processes
With the right technologies in place, retail businesses will be able to deliver substantial reductions in the emissions they generate and the non-renewable energy they use. But the benefits of making these changes to their IT can spread much further than that:
- Help customers reduce their carbon footprint: a greener retail experience and sustainably manufactured products mean that customers have the opportunity to lower their own carbon footprint when buying or using items.
- Improve manufacturing processes: more efficient document use and processes through digitisation can help make manufacturing faster and more cost-effective. This means new products can get to market faster and profit margins can be increased without raising prices for customers.
- Increase employee satisfaction: better engagement with the company and easier access to HR functions will help employees feel more positive, and valued by their employer. This in turn can also see them become increasingly motivated and productive at work.
- Boost supply chain resilience: digital documents generate a secure, traceable trail of information that all stakeholders can access at every part of the supply chain. This makes it easier to cut out inefficiencies and provide quicker responses to issues as and when things go wrong.
SCC’s Document Services are the best way for retailers like you to move towards a greener, more sustainable future for your IT. Find out more on how we can help you here.
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