Monitoring the amount of waste saved by removing plastic bags from transactions is another way for stores to better quantify their efforts towards environmental sustainability.
M&S recently announced its success in reducing plastic bag waste by 80% by charging a small fee per bag used and was able to pass the information regarding this green initiative and its subsequent reduction in waste onto the customer resulting in positive publicity for the company.
Advanced POS systems have features that can help stores achieve similar results. It is possible, for example, for cashiers to record whether customers re-use their bags at the point of service, and award loyalty scheme points accordingly.
With the idea of a tax on plastic bags gaining momentum in other European countries such as the Netherlands, retailers may want to consider taking action sooner rather than later as it is possible this could eventually spread to the UK.
Reducing waste from plastic bags and receipts are effective and visible steps stores can take towards become more eco-friendly.
With waste management controls in modern retail systems managers can also keep track of the environmental impact of each product brought to market.
They can record factors such as the quantity of materials used in packaging, whether those materials can be recycled or are biodegradable, and the carbon footprint involved in producing and shipping them. This provides retailers with a powerful tool to help target where environmental savings can be made.
Stores such as WalMart, John Lewis and M&S have enjoyed considerable positive publicity by presenting their green initiatives in a simple, direct way to consumers, no doubt improving their brand image.
Adapting to respond to environmental concerns doesn’t have to be a dreaded task retailers are forced to undertake. Indeed, as I hope some of the examples above demonstrate, changes to the POS and supply chain can present an opportunity for stores to both enhance the customer experience and improve the bottom line.
Doug Hargrove is Chief Marketing Officer, of Torex, a leading supplier of retail technology systems. Its customers include Argos, McDonald’s, Tesco and Selfridges.