Selling Green

Shopping green for springWith spring in full swing, green is on everyone’s mind, and not just because of the budding landscape. Coming off tax season, individuals and businesses alike are looking into green improvements and practices to add to their list of deductions for 2012 taxes. Spring is the perfect time to start, before water restrictions are set and air conditioners are set to full blast. However, for independent retailers concerned with such initiatives, going green with your business does not require installation of solar panels on top of your store, or spending a lot of money. By taking basic steps one at a time to implement strategies, your retail business will become more and more environmentally friendly, and actually save money in the long run.

First, adopt some common sense green improvements in the office, like cutting down on paper usage and expenses by only printing emails and other documents as necessary. When you do have to print, use both sides of the paper. Next, encourage green practices among your employees, like turning off lights and machines not in use, or recycling recyclables. Set up recycling bins in your back office or in various locations of the store, so employees and shoppers can separate recyclables such as office paper, newspapers, aluminum cans, glass bottles and more. Then, show your commitment by selling green and marketing green. If you use product packaging, make sure that you’re using recyclable materials. If you use promotional items for your business, use items that are recyclable or made of recycled products.

Other special issues faced by retailers on the green front are the usage of paper receipts and bag choices. The plastic vs. paper debate continues to leave retailers without an ideal ecological choice, when it comes to disposable shopping bags. Many customers are urged to, “bring your own bag,” but remembering their shopping lists is hard enough, among daily to-do items. Retailers, therefore, have devised strategies to jog their customers’ memories. Following are some of the creative tactics used currently in retailers’ BYOB efforts:

1) Offer a gift. For those customers who forego a plastic bag, they receive a sample of their favorite product or a gift giveaway.

2) Discount the purchase. Some retailers, such as those in Washington, DC, are charging consumers five cents for every plastic or paper bag used. But others are using a positive rewards method by offering a five to ten cent discount on the overall purchase price for every bag the customer brings.

3) Sell reusable bags. The best way to guarantee that customers will bring their own bag is to sell reusable bags. Not only will shoppers no longer use the excuse, “I don’t have a bag to use,” but retailers will be provided with an opportunity to create a little brand awareness and advertising.

Simply stated, awareness of the importance of environmental preservation continues to grow, and without any acknowledgement or effort to implement green initiatives, a business’ bottom line can feel negative effects. Following are some beneficial and motivational reasons to always think green:

1) Public Relations. Retailers who emphasize the fact that they are attempting to be environmentally friendly can gain the favor of like-minded consumers.

2) Cost Savings. Companies that focus on reducing energy consumption not only help the environment, but also reduce their costs in the form of lower energy bills.

3) Tax Credits. The current economic stimulus plan provides incentives for companies to go green in the form of tax credits, which can enhance their bottom lines.

4) Consumer Demand. As environmental consciousness grows, consumers are demanding more green products and services, according to the Green Business Bureau website.

The environmental movement is powerful, and whether you as an independent retailer are participating in it or not could prove to be the best or worst decision, as you position yourself in a competitive market. As the push for energy efficiency becomes greater, the concept of going green for small businesses may no longer be a question of “if,” but “when.” Why not this spring?