How to Implement Sustainable Retail Design Strategies

Real-world examples of sustainable retail design that your brand can use

It’s no longer enough to charge for plastic bags or dim your store lights. Every aspect of your business needs to be sustainable.

Your customers demand it, and they are walking away from brands and retailers who fail to recognize the importance of sustainability. Sustainable retail design makes smart sense for you, your customers, and the environment.

What Sustainable Really Means for Retailers

Sustainable retail goes way beyond packaging and a green logo in your marketing materials.

The Patagonia clothing brand, sums up what sustainable retail (and business) means today:

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to protect nature, and not be bound by convention.”

To be sustainable, retailers must prioritize:

  1. Transparent and ethical supply chain
    Your customers want to know how your products are made and where materials are sourced, who is making your products and the working conditions of all employees, and how your products are delivered to your retail stores or to their front step.
    Sustainable retail means there can be no secrets about your materials, working conditions, and delivery processes.
  2. Environmentally friendly last-mile and delivery practices
    It’s no secret that the boom in online sales has a negative side effect – more vehicles on the road. For any brand that sells online, it’s imperative you acknowledge the environmental impact of your last-mile delivery practices and look for alternatives. Sustainable retail means thinking outside the box and partnering with delivery companies using alternative transportation including electronic vehicles, self-driving technology, bicycles/cargo bikes, and drones.
  3. Embracing the circular economy
    The circular economy is focused on maximizing the potential of materials and products by repurposing and reusing them for as long as possible. Choosing materials and products that can be reused, upcycled, and repurposed is essential to sustainable retail.
    The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes the circular economy as:
    “It is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials. A circular economy decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people, and the environment.”
    Sustainable retail means looking for ways to reduce waste in every aspect of your business from initial design to upcycling your window and graphic displays.
  4. Safe, fair, and environmentally friendly workplaces
    Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon, and cost-savings green buildings. The priorities of a safe and healthy workplace and a commitment to low energy costs is a benefit for your employees and your brand.
    LEED certification shows a whole-business approach to sustainability that has trickle over benefits for brands with customer loyalty, cost savings, and brand awareness.
    Sustainable retail means following the lead of brands including Estee Lauder, Nike, and Levi Strauss who subscribe to LEED certification standards.

Ultimately, sustainable retail is about looking at every single component of your business and brand and finding ways to be better.

Are their ways to reduce your environmental footprint? Can you change the way your stores are designed to create a healthier workplace? How can your brand and business practices help and not hurt the environment?

Your Customers and Sustainable Retail

It should not come as a surprise that your customers care about sustainable retail design and sustainable brands:

  • 50% of surveyed consumers said the ability to recycle a product once they’re finished using it influenced their buying decision (Shopify)
  • 44% of surveyed consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with a clear sustainability commitment (Shopify)
  • 35% of surveyed brands are investing in establishing long-term sustainability goals and targets (Shopify)
  • 35% of surveyed consumers prioritize having a transparent, accountable, and socially and environmentally responsible supply chain (Deloitte)
  • 83% of millennials expect brands to align with their values (Shopify)
  • 53% of surveyed companies are making sustainability a top priority, including improving manufacturing processes and using more sustainable packaging (Shopify)

Sustainable Retail Design Strategies

Sustainable retail design is not a trend. It’s an imperative. Your customers can see through green-washing and sustainable fakery – do not be this brand.

Here is how your brand and company can put sustainable retail design into real-life action:

  1. Recycled and recyclable retail fixtures
    How and where are the materials sourced for your window displays? What happens to promotional signage once the promotion is over?
  2. Environmentally friendly and sustainable building materials
    Where and how are your building materials sourced and designed? Can you upcycle fixtures and construction materials such as product displays, floor tiles, countertops, shelving, etc.?
  3. LED lighting and climate control
    Can you do more than simply dimming your lights? What are your opportunities for using solar energy? Are your stores too hot in the winter months and too cold in the summer months?
  4. Make it easy to recycle in-store
    Can your customers recycle product packaging such as cardboard boxes or plastic inserts in-store? How can you prove to customers that their cups, plates, and other in-store recyclables are actually being recycled?
  5. Think circular economy
    Can customers drop off electronics, clothing, books, toys, and household goods so they can be repurposed, donated, and reused? What happens to your old retail fixtures such as display boards, shelving, and wall units?
  6. LEED certification
    Are you using VOC-free paint and flooring free of dyes and chemicals? How can you bring the environment indoors with natural lighting and reclaimed building materials in your flooring and millwork?

This is the time to make sustainable retail design a priority. There are no excuses not to.

IKEA, Patagonia, Starbucks, Levi Strauss, Nike, Adidas, LEGO, and Joe & The Juice are all doing it. And now it’s your turn.

At Dynamic, our unique combination of IN-HOUSE offerings makes us your single source provider for all your retail fixture and millwork installation needs. No one understands installation better than we do.

Contact us to learn how we handle any aspect of your business – from an individual installation to a global roll-out.