Retail Sustainability 2024: Leaders’ Strategies for Circular Economy and Compliance

Explore the transformative outlook for retail sustainability in 2024, featuring the key strategies of industry leaders from the circular economy and innovating the shopping experience to compliance and leveraging Digital Product Passports.

Retail Industry
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Retail Sustainability 2024: Leaders’ Strategies for Circular Economy and Compliance

As we venture into 2024, the retail landscape is undergoing a profound change with the sustainability trends of transparency and legislative adherence emerging as pivotal themes. This evolution is not just about compliance or market trends; it’s a reflection of a deeper societal shift toward environmental responsibility and ethical consumerism. 

To help support the industry through these changes, we’ve curated insights from retail leaders who are at the forefront of this transformation, sharing their visions, strategies and 2024 retail sustainability trends for a more sustainable future. These collective insights, woven together to offer comprehensive foresight of what lies ahead for the retail industry, will help guide you through the evolving terrain of retail sustainability.

The 2024 Priorities of Global Leading Retailers

Diving into the heart of retail’s transformative sustainability journey and trends for 2024, we’ve gathered insights from industry vanguards who are not just envisioning but actively crafting the future of eco-conscious commerce. This section unfolds their strategic priorities, offering a comprehensive collection of perspectives that help illuminate the path forward. 

From embedding sustainable practices to navigating the complexities of new legislation, their voices echo the collective ambition and challenges of redefining retail. As you explore below, you’ll uncover the nuanced strategies and innovative approaches and trends that are setting the course for a more sustainable and transparent retail landscape in 2024 and beyond.

Sustainability Integration in Retail

“We've introduced features and tools empowering consumers to contribute to sustainable development, and now we're intensifying our efforts to incorporate more sustainable practices throughout the user journey by driving usage.”

Salah Said, Head of Sustainability at Klarna

One of retail’s sustainability trends in 2024 is the active engagement of consumers in sustainability will help dictate the future of carbon and impact calculation and management — an evolution driven by an increasing demand for tools and features that not only facilitate but also encourage sustainable choices at every touchpoint of the consumer journey. 

Klarna’s commitment to integrating more sustainable practices reflects a broader industry trend where the focus is extending beyond the point of purchase to encompass the entire user experience. The future success of carbon and impact calculation and management in retail falls heavily to global names like Klarna who are helping to involve consumers in their impact mission. Together, Klarna and Vaayu are ensuring the engagement of Klarna’s 150 million global consumers.

This approach not only aligns with the growing consumer consciousness around sustainability but also sets a new standard for trends in 2024 on how retail can contribute to sustainable development by making it an integral part of the shopping process.

Transparency and Communication in Retail

"Transparency is always our priority at Missoma, and communicating to our customers. We’re also committed to leading our industry towards more sustainable choices – this year our plan is to launch a digital product passport with Vaayu."

Marisa Hordern, Founder and Creative Director of MISSOMA

Transparency in building consumer trust and fostering brand loyalty is a critical role that cannot be ignored by the retail industry. Customers across the world are requiring more information pre and post-purchase, and the sooner brands get on board, the better.

By prioritizing open communication and committing to sustainable choices, MISSOMA is not just taking part in retail trends in 2024 but is actively inviting consumers to be part of their sustainability journey. Part of this change is dictated by retail environmental compliance in 2024, where Digital Product Passports (DPPs) are poised to transform compliance in retail.

Jewelry is a key sector in retail, and MISSOMA’s planned launch of Digital Product Passports in collaboration with Vaayu exemplifies their commitment to sustainability and environmental compliance beyond retail trends in 2024. By offering a tangible tool for consumers to understand the environmental impact of their purchases, brands like MISSOMA that are implementing DPPs are also meeting legislation mandates like the Loi AGEC Decree 2022-748 and getting ahead of requirements of EU ESPR.

This move towards greater transparency not only aligns with the values of today’s informed consumers but also strengthens the bond between brands and customers, creating a loyal community that values sustainability as much as style. If your business is planning to keep up with the DPP mandates across Europe, feel free to try Vaayu’s Digital Product Passport Solution with up to 50 free DPPs included as standard.

Retail’s Strategic Transition Plans

“Priorities for businesses will include a sound transition plan for climate change mitigation with clear actions and targets across the value chain. If this wasn’t already a priority, businesses will need to actively engage with partners both upstream and downstream in order to define and realise their transition and be ready to disclose a credible and transparent strategy.”

Anna Tönneßen, Director, Sustainable Development at Redcare Pharmacy

Redcare Pharmacy’s perspective sheds light on the imperative for businesses to craft a comprehensive transition plan aimed at mitigating climate change. A deep dive into the value chain is crucial to more comprehensive and accurate Scope 3 accounting, also encouraging collaboration and engagement at every level to embed sustainable practices.

By actively involving partners upstream and downstream, businesses can ensure that their sustainability strategies are not only holistic but also actionable, holding suppliers accountable and including them in sustainability missions while also lowering and reducing within Scope 3 accounting. This collaborative effort allows for the identification of shared goals and the pooling of resources, ultimately leading to more effective and wide-reaching environmental initiatives — a retail sustainability trend that will surely extend beyond 2024.

Such an integrated approach not only accelerates the transition toward sustainability but also reinforces the collective responsibility of the value chain, combating climate change as part of better Scope 3 impact accounting. This 2024 initiative will likely set the standard for more sustainable retail trends in years to come.

Innovating the Retail Experience

“We're continuing to push the boundaries of the fashion cycle, looking for new ways to innovate in the way retailers offer customers the tools and knowledge to make informed and intentional choices in fashion.”

Lauren Kam, Brand Marketing Lead at LESTRANGE

Innovation within the fashion cycle is a pivotal strategy for sustainable evolution. By reimagining traditional retail models, brands like LESTRANGE are at the forefront of retail sustainability trends in 2024 offering consumers novel avenues to engage with fashion sustainably, including via technological B2B2C tools and features. 

These innovations are not just about creating less impactful products but also about empowering consumers with the knowledge and tools to make conscious choices. From the integration of sustainable materials to the promotion of a circular initiatives, educational and informative sustainability-focused B2C and B2B2C tools are helping businesses transform the consumer experience. 

By prioritizing sustainability at every stage of the fashion cycle in 2024 and releasing a consumer-facing fashion footprint calculator, LESTRANGE is setting a precedent for trends on how retail brands can lead consumers toward a more sustainable future, making each purchase a step toward environmental stewardship.

Engaging Dialogue on Shopping Impact

“This year at Otrium, we'll continue to open an active dialogue about impact and reporting with our brand partners, members, and the wider industry.”

Marlot Kiveron, Head of Sustainability at Otrium 

The power of open dialogue in amplifying the impact of sustainability efforts and trends across the retail sector in 2024 can not be emphasized enough. By prioritizing transparent conversations with brand partners, members and the broader industry, retail brands and businesses can creating a collaborative space where insights on environmental impact and sustainability practices can be shared and developed. 

This commitment to engagement goes beyond mere reporting; it’s about building a community of informed stakeholders who can collectively drive meaningful change. The active dialogue facilitated by forward-thinking brands, marketplaces and outlets like Otrium not only raises awareness but also encourages accountability and innovation, setting a dynamic foundation for industry-wide progress toward more sustainable operations. This openness and collective effort will continue to be a retail trend for sustainability in 2024 and beyond.

Anticipating Legislation Changes in Retail

“We have shifted our focus towards future-proofing our operations and proactively anticipating upcoming legislation. In light of these strategic priorities, we are currently reinforcing our existing stores and retail infrastructure, ensuring that we are well-prepared for the forthcoming regulatory requirements.”

Mark de Lange, Founder & CEO of Ace & Tate

Proactively steering retail company operations while taking into account the anticipated legislative changes in the retail landscape helps to future-proof the entire industry. This forward-thinking approach involves a comprehensive review and reinforcement of retail infrastructure to ensure not just compliance but also resilience against future sustainability regulatory shifts, priming the industry and its trends for environmental compliance in 2024 and beyond. 

By meticulously preparing for these changes, brands and businesses like Ace & Tate are helping to set benchmarks for how retailers can adapt their strategies to remain agile and compliant in the face of new and upcoming sustainable retail legislation. Mark De Lange’s sustainability strategy underscores the importance of readiness, trends and adaptability beyond 2024, positioning Ace & Tate at the forefront of retail innovation and legislation compliance.

Adhering to sustainable retail legislation also involves a deep dive into operational practices, from supply chain management to in-store policies, ensuring every aspect aligns with upcoming sustainability and environmental mandates. Vaayu created a free resource for staying ahead of retail’s sustainability-related legislation across the globe — compliance starts here with Vaayu’s Legislation Tracker.

Circular Economy and Retail’s Economic Opportunity

When it comes to sustainability trends and innovation in 2024, insights into circular economy retail models and strategies spotlight the significant economic opportunities that lie within adopting more sustainable practices. By embracing models such as recommerce, rental and repair, businesses can tap into new revenue streams while also aligning with growing consumer demand for sustainability. 

Recommerce, or the resale of used goods, extends the life cycle of products and offers consumers access to quality items at reduced costs. Rental models provide flexibility and variety without the environmental impact of producing new goods. Repair services encourage longevity and value, reducing waste and fostering a more sustainable relationship between consumers and their purchases. 

When it comes to circular retail strategies, these practices not only contribute to environmental sustainability but also open up innovative avenues for growth and customer engagement in the retail sector. Sustainability trends and strategies are essential for more innovative circular economy in retail in 2024 and beyond.

With recommerce partnerships including Asia’s Carousell Group and Europe’s Vinted and Otrium, Vaayu is at the intersection of technology and sustainability, and plays a crucial role in facilitating these transitions. Vaayu developed its dedicated Circular Impact Solution based on this work, and our platform and partnerships are instrumental in equipping retailers with the tools and data they need to navigate this new terrain confidently. 

Here’s a note from our founder to provide greater context on the priorities explored above in relation to driving real impact reductions and change in the retail industry.

“Progress is a collective effort and it’s really exciting to see this wave of enthusiasm that is pushing brands to deliver more.”

Namrata Sandhu, Co-Founder and CEO of Vaayu

“We started Vaayu because retailers lacked the tools they needed to drive reduction at speed and at scale, arming them with automated real-time data to guide decision making but what stands out as we look ahead is the growing interest and investment from brands wanting to communicate these insights to their customers. Whether it’s fashion, beauty, jewelry or home, consumers are demanding greater transparency about the environmental impact of the products they buy from their chosen brands. Coupled with impending regulation driving awareness and action within the retail sector and beyond, getting customer communication right is the biggest priority and opportunity for businesses as we enter 2024. Progress is a collective effort and it’s really exciting to see this wave of enthusiasm that is pushing brands to deliver more. 

One of the more complex priorities for 2024 will be preparing brands and businesses for new legislation. As extensive regulation continues to roll out across Europe and worldwide over the next 12 months, such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), sustainability reporting will become non-negotiable. Retailers will be under greater scrutiny to offer clarity to consumers about their sustainability efforts too, including via the introduction of Digital Product Passports for traceability to comply with legislation like France’s Loi AGEC Decree 2022-748 and the EU ESPR. We’ll continue to work closely with our global partners to help them navigate the evolving landscape and get ready for these changes. 

Evaluating and embedding circular thinking is also high on retailers' agendas. Circularity offers businesses particularly within the retail ecosystem a significant economic opportunity — with models like recommerce, rental and repair providing avenues for growth as shoppers seek out brands that provide more sustainable shopping choices.” 

The insights shared above by retail leaders underscore a unified step toward sustainability and transparency within the industry. This collective vision, highlighted by initiatives in circular retail models, legislative preparedness and consumer engagement, marks a pivotal shift in retail’s future. Vaayu remains dedicated to championing these efforts, emphasizing the crucial role of collaboration in driving meaningful change across the sector.

If your businesses making its own commitments to sustainability in retail, join the league of other leaders making this transformative journey with the support of Vaayu. We’d love to help you reach your goals and targets — reach out to one of our experts today.

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