Sustainability is not just a fad. A word once associated with ethical-led initiatives, it’s now an expectation driven by consumer demand and expectation, with government legislation following closely behind.
With retail’s supply chain being a lead culprit in the negative impact on the environment, brands are having to re-evaluate their approach and, with a myriad of options and opportunities on how to tackle this huge issue, it can feel confusing on how best to start.
In their latest guide, Retail Assist have compiled the best examples and retail opinion from across the industry. Here’s our top picks.
What is Sustainable Fashion? What are the Differences Between Sustainable Fashion and Ethical Fashion?
Whilst sustainable fashion and ethical fashion are often linked, they’re actually separate issues. Sustainable fashion looks at minimising any negative effect on the environment that comes from a product’s life cycle – from the very start of the design process to many years later, when the item might no longer be wanted by the consumer. Instead, ethical fashion focuses on how items are made, with every part of the supply chain considered, from whether animal products have been used and, if so, how they’ve been treated, to how the garment workers are also treated.
What Are the Main Sustainable Issues Within the Supply Chain?
The issues surrounding the retail supply chain can be separated into three different areas of concern: firstly, how the product is produced whilst on the supply chain, then during the customer purchase process and finally, what happens when the consumer no longer has need for that product.
Where retailers can look to make a huge impact is during the sales cycle. For consumers who shop online, their bedrooms become changing rooms: on average, online fashion retailers see a 30% returns rate. With some retailers making headlines for sending returned items to landfill rather than back onto a virtual shop floor (to put this into context, according to Greenpeace, £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year in the UK alone) this creates a huge opportunity for retailers to improve their returns rate and to eliminate this problem in the first place.
How Can Retailers Improve This?
John Bovill is a global IT consultant and former Group eCommerce and IT Director, having previously worked for brands such as Harrods and Woolworths Holdings Limited.
John explains: “People are looking for a high-quality lifestyle and customers require information to make more sustainable choices. However, developments require improved transparency across the entire supply chain. Technology is one of the best ways to provide this and retailers should look to implement systems such as OMIO PIM (a Product Information Management solution) to help manage efficient product data collection.”
OMIO PIM helps to improve the customer experience, giving a multitude of product information to the consumer, encouraging them to make better purchase decisions and reducing the number of unnecessary returns. For example, with improved product data surrounding sizing, customers needn’t order multiple sizes but instead can get it right first time. Whilst this helps a brand’s sustainability credentials, it also helps better merchandising planning, too.
A Message from OMIO PIM
Alex Broxson, Retail Assist’s Chief Marketing Officer, says: “Here at Retail Assist, we are specialists in retail and technology, and are passionate about sustainability. We all have a responsibility and a part to play in the future success and survival of our planet. As such, we’ve been working hard to develop our OMIO PIM software which promotes efficiencies in the supply chain and reduces returns through better attributed product data, all whilst contributing to improved customer product experiences throughout the process. If you want to chat to us about how we can support your journey to a more sustainable future, get in touch.”