Don't miss our awards deadlines

Four ideas for sustainable shopping and how to incorporate new tech into the user experience

A look at some of the tech installations revolutionising the retail space at The Drum's CornerShop.

Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainability. They’re reconsidering the food, clothes and brands they associate themselves with, looking to understand how their products are made and forcing the retail sector to respond.

As this sustainability conversation becomes more of a priority, marketers also need to catch up.

Many customers reviewed their purchasing power and rethought how they spent their money during lockdown, when their consumption and travel opportunities were limited. It caused some to switch their habits, shop more locally, reuse and recycle where possible and look into the origins of the products they were buying.

Sustainable shopping and how marketers need to adapt

Sustainable shopping is a catch-all concept that refers to the consumption of goods and services in a way that is most efficient and beneficial for the planet.

As consumers continue to seek out smarter and more sustainable solutions to assist them in the decision-making process, marketers must evolve to accommodate their needs.

The Drum’s newly-launched Labs building, which houses innovative retail technology and experiences for the future, also homes on its ground-level a concept store known as CornerShop – a play on the traditional convenience shops that once graced most UK neighborhoods.

Inside this retail space is a series of smart tech installations that work to cultivate a more sustainable shopping experience, aligned with what the consumer needs and wants in a way that is revolutionizing the retail industry.

Here we highlight a few of the in-house initiatives that are changing the way consumers interact with the retail sector, as well as some developments taking place elsewhere.

Ideas for reframing sustainable shopping:

  1. CornerShop is home to the Vertical Farming initiative, which is one of the UK’s first retail-orientated vertical farms. Using technology to set the right conditions for garden herbs to grow, the greenhouse installation needs little maintenance once set up. CornerShop customers can experience farm life without ever having to leave the city, picking and paying for exactly how much of the fresh store-grown produce they want, without being overcharged for redundant produce.
  2. The second in-store venture promotes circular fashion by allowing visitors to drop off their old clothes in exchange for credit or other second-hand items. The technology assesses the clothes digitally to check for any wear or tear and makes a note of the condition they are received in. This is a similar initiative to high street brands such as H&M, which established a garment collection and recycling service across all its stores in 2013 to reduce items ending up in landfill. Its assessment process is still very much conducted manually, however.
  3. Elsewhere, millennials are seemingly making more effort to think about their purchases and whether they really need them. There has been an incline in clothes repairs and a spike in vintage and charity shop sales, with fashion activists such as brand consultant Aja Barber frequently calling out brands for falsifying claims and pressuring the industry to do more to prioritize sustainability. There has also been a surge in apps like By Rotation, which encourage shoppers to rent clothes rather than buy new, making consumers reconsider the frequency of their purchases.
  4. Giki is another app making waves. It helps users to track their individual carbon footprint as they make purchases and discloses which banks invest in fossil fuels. The app is easy to use and informative, enabling consumers to shop sustainably and find ways to cut back on their carbon consumption.

These are only some of the initiatives that are currently paving the way for improved approaches to sustainable shopping to coincide with consumers aiming for a net zero lifestyle.

Consumers are increasingly seeking a tailored and more considered approach, where marketers can adapt their digital experiences to better serve up choices as per their preferences.

The Drum’s Labs space is spearheading the future of retail and using insights ahead of market trials to learn what works with consumers. Given the immersive and testing ground nature of the venue, the disruptive new technologies we have in-store will continue to evolve.

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy