It is important now as the retail market and the consumer is changing at an increasing rate that retailers implement sustainable practices in all of their activities to allow them to maintain a focus on consumer changing demands.  Consumers are searching for interaction and relationships that are easy to maintain and do not require a great deal of effort to maintain the relationship and also do not require a great deal of effort to gain value from the relationship.  I believe that consumers want a retail marketplace that allows them first to socialize with other consumers while shopping and then channels into an easy purchase process.  In other words, I think consumers view sustainable retail practices from the level of ease in maintaining the relationship with the retailer and probably more important how the retailer fits into the consumer’s social network.

 

From a definition perspective, sustainable practices can come in two categories; resource sustainability practices that consume reusable or reduced resources and and business sustainability practices that do not require a great deal of maintenance to support.  Consumers to date have generally focused more on the retailer’s prices and services than on whether the retailer recycles and uses reduced resources because consumers to date have focused on cost.  Its a great bonus that a retailer gives back to the community, or uses reduced resources and consumers will use those points as a secondary selection criteria.  This is not to say that the retailer should not focus on resource sustainability because this also supports the business sustainability, at this point though it should be done as a benefit to the retailer and the community in general.

 

Business sustainability practices are the areas that are impacting the retailer to consumer relationships not though and these are the practices that retailers must focus.  Retailers are in a tenuous position now though because consumers now have a means to exert their demands requiring retailers to react to the demands rather than consumers reacting to the retailer offerings.  The growth of millennial consumers and their comfort and capabilities in utilizing technology has basically turned the tables on control of the retail marketplace and consumer relationships.  Millennials are the tip of the spear in these changes and the consumer marketplace has embraced these capabilities which has further driven the changes into the retail marketplace.

 

It is more important now than ever for retailers to focus on sustainable business practices to cohesively and efficiently react and support new consumer demands. These demands and changes of consumers not only impact the retailers and they also impact the brick and mortar retail market.  You can see the results in the changes in malls and shopping centers where the large anchor stores are struggling because of reduced traffic.  These consumer demands drive changes in business practices that retailers must sustain and then expand and retailers cannot afford to sit still, they must engage and implement sustainable change to support the demands.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?