Share what you learn
UK retail employs over 3 million people if all of those individuals have the knowledge and information on how to be greener it will make a difference.
How it helps you
Sharing knowledge with your employees will improve retention as they become strong advocates for your business and its ethos, making it easier to attract good people. If your employees are committed to making positive change you are more likely to achieve your business goals and achieve all the actions in our guide.
Telling your customers and future customers what you are doing is essential to increasing your sales and getting more customers who want sustainable shopping to shop with you
ACTION: Train your employees in the six planet friendly principles and how to achieve them.
Train and upskill your employees in sustainable practices (e.g., recycling, reducing energy use, customer engagement, and reducing waste).
Clearly inform team members as to what changes you are making to the shop in the name of planet friendly shopping, and why that is so important. The more helpful your teams can be in telling customers how to be eco-friendly, the more likely they are to keep shopping with you.
Effective ways to engage your employees could include:
- Holding a session to teach them about sustainability
- Inviting your green suppliers to talk to the team
- Running all-team sustainability challenges (through Giki Zero Pro https://giki.earth or Do Nation https://www.wearedonation.com)
- Sending monthly emails to communicate sustainability updates to your team.
Where to go to find out more
Count Us In: https://www.count-us-in.org is a simple sixteen point starting point for individuals to get started – share it with your team.
The carbon literacy programme https://carbonliteracy.com is an excellent more detailed information source which helps educate your employees.
ACTION: Bring your customers on the journey
Wherever you’ve made a ‘green’ decision in your shop, put up signs or talk to your customers to tell them why you’ve made these changes and what positive impact they’ll have on the planet.
This will help customers make informed purchasing decisions and take away ideas to try at home.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the packaging, marketing and home website of the green products you’re selling. Often, you’ll find information there about why their products are planet-friendly, which you could put on your signage. You could also ask your suppliers for this information.
Champion your green suppliers on your shop floor, customers want to know where their products come from.
If made by a local producer, tell their story as it will resonate well with your customers. You can invite them in to demonstrate or share the story of their products in your shop.
Finally, be careful with what you say – many claims are difficult to validate. Zara attracted bad press in 2019 when it stated on its website that all its clothing collections would be made from sustainable materials before 2025, when in fact there was no recognised definition of what a sustainable material is.
ACTION: Make sure you can communicate digitally with your customers
Using social media and online to communicate with your customers is essential and will help get you noticed for what you are doing.
Often we can have people working with us who have skills we don’t know, so if you are busy give somebody else in your team responsibility for sharing with customers.
Don’t forget customers love looking at YouTube videos so shoot little videos to share so others can learn from it.
Where to find out more
Ask your local council what courses they are running in digital skills as these are often free
Make it click https://makeitclick.learnmyway.com has lots of free resources on digital learning which you or your employees can access.
ACTION: Keep a diary of the changes which you have made and celebrate with your customers and team
As small businesses we can be so short of time that we forget to what we have done. So record key information.
How much by month are you using in electricity and gas in kWh? If you can go online and get the data by the month for the last 12 months it will take you around ½ hour and will definitely be worth it as you start to see how much less you are using.
Take some photos of your shop and your packaging so you don’t forget where you started. Do a list of all the different types of packaging you are ordering from suppliers. Estimate how much you are using each month and the cost of each item. Take some photos of your bins at bin collection time and how much rubbish you have in them.
As you implement something new or do something, share it with your team and customers in your shop, online and through social media.
In a year, you will be amazed what changes you have made and the money you have saved.
ACTION: Use your shop window to share your learnings and changes
As well as promoting your successes online to become a planet friendly retailer, make sure that your shop window clearly lets customers know the good work that you have been doing. Being able to say that shopping with you is better for the environment is a very strong and attractive statement for customers.
Do be aware of greenwashing which is when companies over promise or exaggerate their green credentials to customers. Celebrate with them what you have done and be honest and open about the things left to do.
ACTION: ‘Green’ your suppliers
Work with your suppliers who are also trying to make their business more sustainable. If this is something they haven’t yet considered, share the benefits of doing so and encourage them to make similar shifts to you. Share your customer feedback with your suppliers to help influence their design and stocking of products.
Like minded suppliers are often looking for customers who may want to trial some new concepts for them and try different products. This can be great for your customers and team to be part of something new and to have the chance to influence products and services.
What others are doing
Morrisons has pledged to be the first major retailer to be completely supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030. Morrisons will work with a range of experts and its 3,000 meat, fruit and vegetable farmers to design a blueprint for net zero farms to be shared across their network.