Sustainability needs to be integrated into order and fulfilment management if fashion retailers are to manage their compliance effectively, meet their customers’ environmental expectations and stop costs rising. This is revealed in the latest report from OneStock, the leading provider of modern and agile Order Management Systems (OMS).
Eco-conscious consumerism demands action
The calls from a few years ago for fashion retailers to be more sustainable across their entire business have grown more recently into a commercial imperative. Customers demand it. Research by OneStock in the Omnichannel Study report of 2,000 UK consumers showed that 52% of consumers would be more loyal if they perceived a retailer to have sustainable practices. This largely soft benefit then takes on a hard commercial benefit as 41% said they would be happy to pay more for delivery knowing it was the greener option.
The problem is that right now, consumers feel retailers are not doing enough. Almost two thirds (65%) of the respondents felt retailers could do more to make delivery and fulfilment sustainable, and 37% didn’t consider the retailers they shopped with to have a sustainable agenda. Worse still, over half (54%) weren’t even aware that the retailers they shopped with had sustainable delivery and fulfilment options.
This knowledge gap is important in the context of the rapid growth of click and collect. This is particularly true during the pandemic as demand for self-collection grew as a result of personal safety concerns, with delivery costs and sustainability being cast further into the spotlight.
“A third of consumers would choose click and collect if they knew it was the
most sustainable way to have their order delivered”
Additional research by OneStock across Europe (UK, Germany, Italy and France), showed that for all countries, around a third of consumers would be more likely to choose click and collect if they knew it was the most carbon-efficient or sustainable way to have their order fulfilled. While in the four countries, around two thirds of consumers were generally less keen to pay a premium for their click and collect items in order to have the carbon emissions associated with its fulfilment offset, demand for sustainable delivery is rising and is sure to accelerate as the link between extreme weather and global warming can no longer be denied.
The challenge for fashion retailers of course is one of cost, particularly if green delivery taxes are levied by European governments. The UK Government, for example, already gets 6% of its income from green taxes, so it may choose to levy further charges on businesses operating online in order to offset the impact of deliveries on the environment in the context of consumer demand for sustainability. Moreover, 59% of the research respondents said sustainability shouldn’t impact speed when it comes to fulfilment, so retailers are faced both with a paradox of pace vs. the planet as well as potentially higher costs.
Less carbon, more automation
The answer potentially lies in technology’s ability to automate the many processes in a way which will cut costs as well as reduce the errors that manual management is prone to. This in turn will reduce costs further by mitigating interventions to fix these mistakes. OneStock’s OMS helps fashion retailers streamline their operations by enabling them to reduce costs associated with inefficient omni channel fulfilment, because its orchestration technology selects the best delivery option based on the total available stock in all channels.
Let the customer choose what green means to them
Automation however does not mean less choice. Using OneStock’s system, retailers can declare the carbon footprint of the delivery upfront, giving customers a clear choice if they want to prioritise speed over sustainability. For example, the customer can compare how carbon emissions vary by fulfilment type, whether they’re collecting an item in-store versus an express home delivery from a warehouse. This option finally brings full loads back onto the agenda because it allows retailers to plan shipments more sustainably as well as more profitably.
This is also the route to personalised order management, an important step in building loyalty and creating a continuous feedback loop that will enable retailers to plan even better. Better planning extends to overall company profitability; if a store is under review for possible closure because of a lack of footfall, it can return to profitability by fulfilling online orders through click and collect or Ship From Store.
In addition, retailers will see a fall in returns because customers that are given a personalised service throughout the journey are able to express their preferences at each stage, leading to higher satisfaction at time of delivery.
Longer term, once the retailer and customer are connected at a more personal level, the retailer can offer more sustainable services. For example, these include reduced or zero packaging, returnable packaging, fully digital communications with no paper trail and order bundling. At this level, both parties are fulfilling their sustainable ambitions.
For further information on how fashion retailers can unify stock to improve conversions and sales whilst driving operational and environmental efficiencies, download the report: