TLA RetailTech Sustainable Retail Event Recap
5 September 2019 @ Google for Startups
We are increasingly aware of the power of our purchase behaviours in voting for brands based on their environmental and social impact, and in turn our personal impact. Brands and consumers are prompted towards change as the immense scale of our consumer footprint is necessitating more sustainable choices.
TLA RetailTech’s Conscious Consumerism: Innovation in Sustainable Retail event brought together a panel of experts and innovators to discuss the challenge at hand and technology’s role in addressing it.
We set the stage by acknowledging the widely recognised fact that retailers aren’t moving fast enough towards sustainability on their own. Pressure is increasing from policy (government regulations) and profit (consumer demand).
The panellists discussed the crucial role technology has in sustainability. For retailers this includes changes across the product lifecycle from concept to carrier bag, and for consumers this includes education and new modes of consumption (ie seasonless fashion, rental garment)
With so many ways to address sustainability it can be hard to know where to start. The panellists emphasised starting with a few small actions and expand from there.
- Consumers: evaluating the retailers they support and how frequently they’d use garments they might purchase.
- Retailers: establishing an approach to sustainability and
Panellists discussed the unique roles of startups and enterprise:
- Startups are better poised to innovate and be sustainable with smaller supply chains and flexible business models
- Enterprises are better poised to influence changes in the supply chain and consumer behaviour with their scale and influence
There were great questions from the audience during the Q&A, including:
Q: How do we measure sustainability when and where we buy?
A: Transparency of products we buy and brands we buy from, traceability of garments, ask staff in store or online
Q: How do we equip people to be make sustainable decisions?
A: Encourage curiosity and awareness, educate on making and repairing garments, provide resources and technology to make sustainable decisions easy
Q: How do we make sustainable retail accessible for consumers and scalable for businesses?
A: Focus on experience and community in addition to transactions, through technology innovations and business model efficiencies, shifting consumer mindset from price of garment to price of use – the ’30 Wears Rule’
Finally, the panellists wrapped up the evening with a few parting thoughts:
- “Everyone has a role in sustainability” Ben Richards, Deloitte
- “Buy less, choose well” – Rebecca Morter, Lone Design Club
- “For retailers, recognise relationships don’t end at sale” – Victoria Prew, HURR Collective
- “The most sustainable clothes are what you already own” – Hasna Kourda, Save Your Wardrobe
- “The key so addressing sustainability is industry collaboration” – Leah Riley Brown, BRC
Our introductory slides can be accessed here, and our panellists can be found online:
- Leah Riley Brown, Sustainable Policy Advisor @ British Retail Consortium
- Hasna Kourda, Founder & CEO @ Save Your Wardrobe
- Victoria Prew, Co-Founder & CEO @ HURR Collective
- Rebecca Morter, Founder & CEO of Lone Design Club
- Ben Richards, Associate Director of Sustainability @ Deloitte