Convenience and value alignment rank high among consumers when making purchasing decisions, but might conflict with one another, according to analysts at the National Retail Federation Big Show at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
“Climate change concern is escalating, people are making a lot of individual actions to reduce their footprint, so [brands need to consider] whatever tools can help them do that to act in an even more ethical way than they are now,” said Rachel Bonsignore, senior consultant for GfK Consumer Life in New York City.
“We talk a lot about morality and technology and how that may be a driving force in the category in the coming years, I think that applies to retailers and consumer brands, really thinking about the best way and the most responsible way to carry out these things,” Bonsignore said.
I think there are ways to create synergies between what consumers want and what retailers want to offer.
– Mark Matthews, vice president of research development and industry analysis, NRF
Most individuals won’t be able to perceive the most efficient option with the least carbon footprint, so the onus is on the retailer, Bonsignore said.
Some of the fastest-growing trends toward convenience could actually be better for the environment, explained Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis for NRF. While expedited shipping might add hundreds of air miles, buy online/pick-up in-store, or buy online/pick up in-locker options offered at retailers like Uniqlo and Walmart might save them.
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“If you’re going to the store and picking things up, you’re doing something sustainable. The onus is on the retailers to help let the consumers know that if you’re picking up in-store, you’re potentially making a small, small contribution to helping save our climate,” Mathews said.
This is a win-win for retailers who know that when consumers come to the store to pick something up, they might buy something else.
He theorized retailers offering a selection of delivery options — two-day delivery, one-day delivery, pick up in-store — and including in the description of each its environmental impact.
“If the retailer’s telling me that if I want it shipped next day it’s going to be a 500-mile journey, whereas if I wait two weeks, that product can come on a regular shipment to the store and have much less of an environmental impact…I think there are ways to create synergies between what consumers want and what retailers want to offer,” Mathews said.
NRF’s Big Show is the world’s largest retail expo and conference, and this year attracted 38,000 people from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14. This is the annual convention’s 109th year.