Sustainability is top of mind for retailers and brands as consumers shift to a more eco-conscious, purpose-driven buying journey. There’s no question that younger generations are leading this change. They are making shopping choices that are values-driven and focused on reducing waste and their carbon footprint. With the state of the planet, it’s the right path and retailers and brands are stepping up to meet this expectation.

At Rithum, we’re committed to helping retailers and brands improve sustainability by getting them closer to the customer, personalizing CX and reducing supply chain inefficiencies by leveraging the world’s leading commerce network. We see a few important paths for retailers to build out their sustainability strategy.

Supply chain efficiency

More than 95 percent of a retailer’s sustainability footprint lies deep within supply chains. A unified drop ship and marketplace can bring consumers through the retail experience sustainably while generating growth opportunities for retailers. This is enhanced by giving retailers access to more brands that are using sustainable materials, shipping in a sustainable manner, or providing additional capabilities to drive efficiency through the delivery process.

A drop ship or marketplace model can support a retailer’s need to get both physically and individually closer to their customer, providing an opportunity for the consumer to actively participate in an eco-friendlier shopping experience.  Leveraging owned goods in store has traditionally been a way to provide expedited services through experiences like ‘shop my store’ or BOPUS, but can drastically limit the available offering the customer has to choose from.  Rithum’s network can substantially unlock endless opportunities for retailers to tap into a localized offering that scales well beyond owned inventory—not only enabling faster delivery services on a greater customer offering, but also reducing the carbon footprint created by sourcing goods from across the country.  Customers crave access to a less wasteful shopping experience and an opportunity to participate but are reliant on retailers to give them that chance.

Retailers can also enable customer opt-in programs that reduce waste through package consolidation efforts, re-using returned shipping boxes and exploring ways to allow their customers to participate in the circular economy through resale.  All these programs can help reduce carbon footprint, increase product efficiency, and cut down on packaging waste. Walmart and Nordstrom are great examples of companies that are effectively reducing carbon emissions by reducing waste and eliminating inefficiencies. Walmart has pledged to work with suppliers to avoid 1 gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030—equivalent to taking over 200 million passenger vehicles off U.S. roads for a year.  Nordstrom has launched both a beauty recycling program to help customers easily recycle beauty products as well as a clothing take back program in partnership with Give Back Box to make it easy for customers to give used clothing and accessories a second life.

Leveraging a network like the one Rithum powers provides brands and retailers more flexibility to engage with customers more efficiently, to connect them to products closer to where they are and deliver them faster, all while fulfilling their values and beliefs around doing it in a sustainable way.

“Nuanced” product assortment

The shopping experience has moved beyond being solely transactional. With consumers making more purposeful choices, thoughtful curation and increased personalization matter more than ever. How do you serve up relevancy, personalize the experience and do it with less risk of inventory ownership?

Drop ship and marketplace models can play a strategic role by giving retailers access to a more extensive inventory to evaluate and curate from, in the moment, to better meet consumer preferences. This approach can address consumers looking to purchase eco-friendly or sustainable products – the inventory can be curated to meet this buying criteria by surfacing only the supplier partners that are focused on delivering an eco-friendly experience. Many brands, such as Adidas and Nike, are committed to increase the manufacturing of sustainable, recyclable products with less packaging and waste. Retailers have an opportunity to showcase these sustainable products and curate an assortment that speaks to what their customers value.

Leveraging a commerce network

Sustainability in retail hinges in large part on being able to scale. The best way to accelerate this is by accessing a commerce network that connects thousands of retailers, brands and suppliers to enable your business to provide the consumer with access to more sustainably-made or locally-sourced product choices.

A commerce network like Rithum’s can connect you to an extensive assortment of products, in this case eco-friendly, no matter where they sit, and get them quickly to your customer for a delightful experience that leaves them feeling good.

Sustainability is moving beyond being an important trend in retail to a business imperative. We can all do our part to support a customer journey that is more sustainable. We’d love the opportunity to support your sustainability initiatives.