Reimagine retail through a sustainability lens
The retail C-suite is emerging from a challenge only few could imagine. With the global pandemic, the industry has never undergone such a colossal trial, and it also has never been presented a more powerful opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and resilience—and emerge stronger.
An undeniable link between society and business came to the fore amid the global pandemic. With the first responsibility to employees, retail leaders acted quickly to protect their workforce and keep them safe. But industry practices, partners and supply chain weaknesses became apparent, revealing the fragility of an unsustainable supply chain. And the ongoing climate crisis continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities.
This time of economic recovery offers a chance to do it better, to build it stronger and to do less harm. We see a host of new opportunities to recover and become ready to outmaneuver future uncertainty. Seize this moment and reset your business for a future of responsibility and resilience.
ESG the new management approach
Retail must set the pace
All industries should look at ways to reset and redefine practices that support recovery and growth—and retail businesses are in a unique position to do so. Retailers are hard-wired for change. From inventories that change daily, with sourcing that has to follow, to flexible store configurations and variable workforces, few sectors have such comfort with radical shifts. And there is great incentive to change. Many large challenges—if left uncorrected—present significant hurdles in the coming years.
Sustainability suits stakeholders
We now know factually and demonstrably that sustainability, when integrated within all business functions, can unlock new opportunities for growth. It is also what consumers, employees and investors have come to expect from businesses.
What had already begun to transform the retail sector before the pandemic will now accelerate as we see more consumers, employees and investors favoring companies that have an authentic ESG strategy across all business disciplines.
Technology turns the key
Progressive CEOs are experiencing the enormous benefit of harnessing the speed of technology innovations to drive sustainability outcomes. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said technology will be the single most critical accelerator of the socio-economic impact of their companies.
Technology accelerates and enables the end-to-end transformation needed to make retail companies more sustainable. Sustainability at its heart is about managing waste, reducing impact and building systems capable of regeneration. Technology makes all of that possible.
How to rebuild responsibly
Retailers are in a powerful position to make changes that drive sustainability across functions while enabling a profitable future. Leaders across all sectors of retail are thinking about ESG not as a problem to solve, but as the solution to cleaner, more efficient, less wasteful practices.
The strategies outlined below show how retailers can accelerate enterprise-wide transformation, rebuild a resilient business and succeed in this new era.
Designed to endure
The retail industry has proven decade after decade that it is adaptable and resilient. Recent changes happening in the world can serve as a wakeup call to rebuild yet again—but with new ambitions to be more responsible to shareholders, employees and the planet.
In collaboration with WWD and the Responsible Business Coalition at Fordham University, read our full report to explore ESG as the new management approach.