Efficient, customer-minded action through sustainability and digitalisation
Customers ascribe great importance to ecology and all things digital. Over the past decade, online trade rose by 12.9%; in 2020 alone, it grew by 23%. Between 2011 and 2017, the sale of “green” products almost doubled and there are many indications that the Covid pandemic will further fan this trend. A new social and ecological awareness will produce a shift in values when it comes to buying a product: Next to the price it is now fairness, regionality and sustainability of products that are key buying criteria. Cutting-edge technology such as predictive analytics allow retailers to learn more about these preferences in order to add them to their offer fast. The current level of ecological restructuring is also easier to track with the help of digital support.
Digital innovations drive sustainability
For the brick-and-mortar retail trade, so-called smart stores which use a lot of intelligent technology have been a fixed part of the store landscape for some time now. But more and more often, you will also find “sustainable smart stores” which offer unusual services to customers through digital solutions in order to pursue their sustainability goals. Especially in the realm of energy, applications like intelligent space sensors, timers for ventilation and A/C units or photovoltaic systems help to reduce consumption. They considerably contribute towards the retail trade having been able to save 50% of its Co2 emissions since 1990. The possibility to scan products and digital price tags give customers not only more product information. Dynamic pricing also allows intelligent adjustments in the perishable segment, to prevent waste. A win/win situation for all!
Digitalisation with sound judgement
It is not only at the point of sale that digital technology creates greater efficiency and a fun shopping experience. Also in logistics and online retailing, there is no more stopping the wish for more digitalisation. But this comes at a price: According to estimates, between 1.8% and 3.2% of global greenhouse gases are due to the production and operation of digital devices and infrastructures. When hurrying towards digital solutions like an electronic receipt, one easily forgets that, for example, an email with a consumption of 10 grams of Co2 has the equivalent footprint of a plastic bag. It would be wise to carefully weigh the use of new technologies before hastily rejecting existing concepts and thus to further boost the relevance of sustainability.
Fortunately, technological development also means that digital solutions per se are becoming increasingly environmentally friendly: Even though the growth in digitalisation has multiplied the need for computing capacities manifold, the global consumption of power by data centres has largely remained the same over the past ten years thanks to switching to hyperscale cloud data centres. This shows that nothing stands in the way of a sensible application of digital devices to achieve a digital transformation within the retail trade.