Mindfulness and being more conscientious about the impact of retail operations is fast becoming a top business priority for online brands, and one we will continue to see develop in 2020. With 88% of consumers wanting retailers to help them make a difference, being aware of the implications that retail is having on both the environment and people will be key to retaining loyal custom, and ultimately a successful retail future for retailers this year. From being more mindful about sustainability and the future of our planet, to mindfulness of the omnichannel experience so that it is accessible for all.

Here we explore three key areas of focus of mindfulness for online retail and how brands can put these into practice for a successful year ahead.

1. Sustainability in retail

Sustainability is fast becoming a crucial consideration for consumers when choosing a brand to buy from, and even what products to buy. In fact, according to recent research, 62% of UK consumers now prefer to buy from companies that are reducing their use of plastics and two-thirds want greater transparency in how companies source their materials.

To be able to keep up with consumer expectation for sustainability, and a greener approach to order fulfilment, online retailers must continually assess the retail supply chain. From production – right through to the packaging of the product, and the method of delivery. By addressing inefficiencies and tightening up on processes throughout the entire fulfilment journey and ensuring inaccuracies are kept to a minimum, brands can vastly reduce unnecessary waste.

Global online fashion brand ASOS is already leading the pack with the use of reusable packaging. Other packaging initiatives to consider include distributed packing models can help to eliminate packaging steps in the supply chain by sending raw product directly from the manufacturer in bulk to the fulfilment before being repackaged into its inner carton for storage.

2. Accessible omnichannel shopping

Across the globe, the spending power of people with disabilities and their families is worth £249 billion, yet less than 10% of businesses have a target plan to access this disability market. Whilst initiatives such as Purple Tuesday are already working hard to encourage brands to provide positive customer experiences to disabled shoppers – there is still more to be done in order to improve accessibility across the entire omnichannel retail experience. 

Accessibility to online shopping services, for instance, need to be considered equal to a physical store. How easy is the website to use? Could it be used by an individual who suffers from deafness or blindness? These considerations should then be applied across the entire customer journey from the kind of packaging used – through to how the item is delivered or returned. Those with physical impairments may find it difficult to return an item via the post or back to the store. Equally, hearing impairments could impact the individual’s ability to interact with the brand should the item not arrive in time, or in the right condition.

3. Under pressure

Busy periods in retail, particularly over popular peak season events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, can be extremely stressful for staff across the entire eCommerce operation. Often additional hours are required to keep up with a rise in customer demand and this can leave employees feeling overworked, stressed and burnt out by the time Christmas comes around.

Luckily, there are plenty that online retailers can do to alleviate this pressure and support staff through busy promotional periods throughout the year. The implementation of technologies such as automated cloud-based fulfilment solutions is a good example of how businesses can save employees time. By reducing inefficient manual picking processes and increasing picking productivity and accuracy, man-hours can be reduced dramatically whilst keeping up with large order volumes.

In today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape, being more considerate and paying attention to the needs and wants of people – whether that be a customer or an employee – will be what sets brands apart from the competition. After all, it is the people that will come back time and time again if they are satisfied, driving your business forward.