It is good news for any retailer when a customer leaves the shop with their hands full of bags and merchandise. But what if there are no bags to be filled? The national movement to go Green has spread, and independent retailers are now investing in eco-friendly displays, paperless receipt options, and ‘bring your own bag’ (BYOB) initiatives. As Intuit’s Small Business Blog reports, “All around the country, there’s a war on plastic bags.” For retailers it is not just about environmental credit or good public relations, but adding to the bottom line. According to NPR, “Plastic bags have become victims of their own success. Their very ubiquity, an estimated 90 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year, has led to a small but growing number of jurisdictions discouraging their use through fees or outright bans.” For instance, San Francisco has largely banned plastic shopping bags since 2007 and now Los Angeles County has issued a plastic bag ban. What effect do these jurisdictions have on customers?
Customers are urged to ‘bring your own bag,’ but remembering the shopping list 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. Some retailers, like Buffalo Exchange, offer a small donation made to charity for each unused bag.
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. Intuit columnist, Susan Johnston, emphasizes, “Remember, better bags get used more frequently.”
This article has been adapted from an original piece on Intuit’s Small Business Blog.