08/12/2010 12:06 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Green Retail: Cut Costs, Save The Planet

Content Provided By IBM

No doubt about it: the economic downturn has caused consumers to cut back on spending. The retail industry is looking for new and innovative ways to cut costs even while encouraging consumers to increase the frequency and the size of their purchases. There's one move that has proven effective in both reducing costs and driving consumer demand: going green.

Green retail delivers business sustainability. It's a way to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by reducing the environmental impact of an enterprise while simultaneously delivering significant financial benefits. In short, what began as an initiative to improve our planet's health has evolved into a means of boosting profit margins. These efforts can offer significant benefits to businesses by:

  • Reducing the amount of energy used by data centers and point of sale (POS) terminals, lowering carbon emissions and slashing operating costs.
  • Optimizing the supply chain, which helps reduce waste, increase flexibility and tighten control of product delivery and demand-response time.

  • Migrating to green infrastructure, which provides an opportunity to re-evaluate operations for improved efficiency and to help locate surplus expenses.
  • Implementing green operations that can improve compliance with government regulations--now and in the future.

All of these advantages can produce a business that's leaner, stronger and more competitive--without lowering prices. Going green can do wonders for a company's brand. In fact, even as they seek to limit their spending, consumers continue to seek out brands and products that reflect their social concerns. Clearly, environmentalism remains a major priority. As evidence, given the choice between similar products, many customers will choose--and even pay a premium for--the one that is quantifiably better for the environment.