Apr 12

Understanding Green Growth for Retail Businesses, and a Checklist to Measure Progress Towards Green Efficiency

green growth for businesses

The world of retail business is changing quickly, and at the forefront of this change sits green issues, sustainability, and the impact on both your customers and business opportunities brought about by implementing green growth for businesses.

More so than ever before, bringing an environmentally-friendly mindset into how you run your retail business has the power to increase the reputation of your company, and equally importantly, it has the ability to save you a considerable amount of money. With this in mind, if you haven’t already looked into how green growth can help your business, it’s high time you did so.

Here at Planned Lighting Maintenance, we’ve always been strong advocates of making retail businesses greener - we’ve seen first-hand how something as simple as changing the way you light your retail space can not only save your company large sums, but can also give you a selling point which makes you stand out from your competitors. We’re far from alone in this: many of the biggest retail brands in the UK are proudly rolling out green and sustainable initiatives, in the knowledge that in order to attract an increasingly eco-aware customer base, and sustain themselves through the 21st century, such actions are indispensable. You can see a fascinating list of case studies here.

Contemporary customers in the UK are more aware than ever before of green issues, and companies which lag behind in their environmental credentials are losing out to competing businesses who have a proven track record of taking a green approach. Here you can see a simple graph from www.ethicalconsumer.org, which clearly shows the rapidly increasing trend and spending power of consumers seeking out ‘ethical’ retail products.

In this article, we’re going to take you through some actionable steps to help you develop a green growth for business plan of action. With the proper planning and measures, you too can join the green revolution, and make green growth sustainable for you and your company.

Why Green Growth Can Be Perceived as a Business Opportunity

Make no mistake about it, today’s customers and the general public are very much switched on when it comes to green issues, and are voting with their feet and pockets when it comes to supporting or rejecting businesses which fit or don’t fit with their worldview and values. Research company Mintel made some truly astonishing reports in 2015 based on US shoppers and their views on ethical companies - they claim that almost 60% of customers would stop buying from a company if they discovered they weren’t considered ‘ethical’ (which partially involves their green credentials), and that 27% would stop shopping with that retailer, even if there wasn’t an easy alternative. It’s a subject which has been at the forefront of the news for some time now, and now is the time to get involved with this trend for greener, more sustainable business practices.  

This is particularly relevant when it comes to the younger generation, and the so-called ‘millennials’ - those who have the potential to become lifelong clients and customers, and look after the fortunes of your retail business in the years to come. A report by The Nielsen Company last year claimed that up to 58% of millennial customers would be happy to pay more for products, if the company selling them was shown to have strong environmental values - a figure which is seemingly going up and up every year. We’ve certainly seen this in action through companies which have switched over to things like sustainable LED lighting; by advertising their willingness to make the changes their clientele would like to see in this regard, their return on the investment has quickly justified their decisions.

There’s another important aspect that is impossible to ignore when it comes to green growth, too. It isn’t just about giving the customer what they want. By changing certain aspects of your retail business, and by taking steps like using more sustainable lighting methods, there’s a whole lot of money to be saved in the process. Sustainability equals profitability in many senses: LED lighting, for example, uses a tiny fraction of the energy required by more traditional forms of lighting, and has a far longer lifespan. The money saved by making such a change can quickly add up, and that’s money you can reinvest into other aspects of your retail business to further improve your green growth.

Going green is about looking forward to the future, and not simply focusing on the here and now. Lighting is probably the best case in point to demonstrate this, although you could also look into the money saved by using things like solar panels or other sustainable energy sources, too. Putting in LED lighting might seem like a chore or significant expense at the time of doing it, but as you can see in this simple case study, the savings that you can make in just a year can be huge! For too long, going green was seen as something inefficient and expensive… but now in 2018, with the cost of LED bulbs dropping to the point at which they are really very affordable, that could no longer be said to be true. This chart shows how much more affordable LEDs have become!

As such, it’s more than fair to say that growing green isn’t just a matter of morality or of being on the right side of history (although those are clearly both highly important points). It’s a business opportunity, and chance to make your business more profitable, which would be nothing short of foolish to overlook. It’s certainly something which is catching on, and quickly. Indeed, 92% of business leaders believe that green growth presents opportunities for their business to develop, and a third of UK businesses are already taking steps to implement green services and products to take advantage of these developments and opportunities.

The Green Growth Cycle

In order to better understand the whole process of green growth for businesses, we’d like to introduce you to the Green Growth Cycle, a strategy that makes it perfectly clear how these environmentally-friendly processes and steps can lead to success, a competitive advantage, and saving money. It’s a six-step process which is easy to implement, and which has the power to make massive and future-proofing changes to your retail company.

Step 1: Identifying Opportunities

No matter what sort of retail business you run, there will undoubtedly be areas you could improve upon when it comes to sustainable and your green credentials. Energy efficiency is obviously the biggest thing to keep in mind here - not just making your lighting more efficient and sustainable, but also by improving insulation, and changing the way you go about your daily tasks can result in making a big difference. Switching off lights, keeping doors shut, reducing your heating systems by a degree or two… once you start looking for opportunities to improve your environmental aspects, you’ll quickly find loads of things to work on!

This isn’t just something for shops and smaller retail businesses to focus on. A quick internet search will reveal that some of the biggest brands in the world have jumped onto the green bandwagon, inspired by the fact that the landscape they operate in really is changing, and they have a responsibility to lead by example. Get yourself a checklist of green opportunities, and start making actionable plans to make positive changes.

Step 2: Developing a Strategy

Once you’ve compiled your list of areas that can be improved in your retail business, you can start setting up an effective strategy for implementing them. This is something which requires a lot of commitment, but as you’re putting together your strategy, you’ll be able to make predictions regarding how it can help your business grow… and see some of the savings you’ll be able to make, too. You need to develop your areas of weakness, and build on the strengths you already have in place, and start embedding this into your business plan for the immediate future.

Step 3: Reducing Environmental Impact

The number 1 priority when it comes to greening your business should be based around reducing your environmental impact. This means cutting waste, slashing your carbon footprint, and reducing your energy consumption to a minimum. In order to do this, you can:

  • Update your lighting
    As we’ve already discussed, LED lighting uses a fraction of the energy of standard lighting systems. Not only this, but the waste they result in is also minimal - LED lights have a lifespan which is several, several times longer than other light bulbs. What’s more, they don’t produce heat, which also makes them considerably more energy efficient.
  • Keep an eye on heating
    Does your retail space need to be heated as much as it is presently? Not many people know this, but every 1 degree of excess heating can increase your bills by 8%! Improving insulation, and keeping your thermostat under control can make a real difference!
  • Minimise waste
    Take a look at things like your water consumption, and think about recycling and re-using things at your retail business, too. Set up systems to ensure that waste is kept to an absolute minimum, and be sure to let your customers know about the steps you’re taking, too.

Step 4: Making your products and services green

If you’re able to, update your range of products and services to include more green and sustainable items. From a lighting perspective, this can involve changing your displays to feature more sustainable lighting systems - show off your products and service with eco-friendly LED bulbs!

Step 5: Increasing your competitive advantage

In order to maximise the benefits you’ll see from encouraging green growth in your business, you’ll have to let your clients and customers know all about the changes you’re making to become more environmentally conscious.

Your business is entering the brave new world of the green economy, and that’s really something to shout from the rooftops! By doing so, you can absolutely gain a competitive advantage over other businesses; customers are flocking to businesses which can display their green credentials, and this alone should be enough to encourage you to make some serious changes. Here are some great ideas for spreading your good news!

  • You should be thinking about developing your branding to include aspects of your new green identity. Use social media to take your customers on your greenification journey with you - upload photos and videos showing your LED lighting being installed, for example. Some companies have really excelled when it comes to utilising social media to demonstrate green credentials. You can see some impressive examples here, should you require some inspiration!
  • Publish your new business plans, and make your sustainability information clearly visible on your homepage.
  • You could even train your staff to include information about your green growth in their sales pitches - customers genuinely want to know about such things, and it will be an important part of word-of-mouth recommendations that would increase your ROI even further.

Step 6: Re-Investing

As you see your profits rising from the heightened customer enthusiasm and engagement, and your coffers filling as a result of the savings made from LED lighting and other such sustainable systems, you’ll be able to think about reinvesting and making your business greener than ever before.

As green growth becomes more commonplace, your competitive advantage will be somewhat lessened - other businesses will eventually catch up and get on the bandwagon, too. As such, re-investing in new green technologies, and taking this approach further, will doubtlessly be well worth the effort and expense.

Green Growth for Businesses: The Key to Sustainability and Success

As we’ve seen, green growth for businesses is the key for taking your retail company into the future. It provides both sustainability and profitability, and allows you retail business to stand head and shoulders above the competition. Time after time this has been proven as true, and we have no doubt that you - like so many others - will easily be able to see the benefits and savings this approach brings.

Planned Lighting Maintenance is proud to be at the forefront of green growth, sustainability, and efficiency in the lighting industry. We believe that we have a responsibility to help our clients improve their green credentials, and reap the rewards that it brings. If you have any queries about how green growth can help your retail business, we’d be more than happy to hear from you soon.

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