It’s not easy going green, according to David Tomasi, global leader for energy, mining, and renewables at accounting and consultancy firm Moore Australia, telling RetailBiz retailers need to be upfront about the increased costs the changing nature of business will bring.

Pointing out that COP26 demonstrated that the world is still yet to solve how energy and carbon reduction needs for a future electricity grid can be perfected, he says that for retailers, the quick wins can come from first being conscious about your supply chains and taking responsibility for them.

“That’s what you need to do. Question your suppliers, and their credentials.

“You need to start going back and putting the burner on the people that are supplying you, and so ad infinitum back in the chain.”

Tomasi says the big retail groups and chains already have the capacity and weight to be able to do that, but smaller retailers should partner with organisations that can help them audit their supply chains thoroughly.

Changing to suppliers that work with less carbon emissions, or can certify that they don’t have any slavery in their supply chains can be pricier than deciding who you rely on solely based on cost.

When you’re changing your business to be more sustainable, and ethical, you need to be upfront with your customers that your pricing will increase, and why that’s the case.

“Everyone needs to be brave. You need to have brave conversations. People don’t like talking about the things that might upset someone else. It’s just a reality, we need to face the brutal truth, and be brave in this conversation.

“You need to say to people, this is why we’re doing it,” Tomasi says.

Moore Australia global leader for energy, mining, and renewables, David Tomasi.

Conversely, by getting ahead of other businesses in your space with a genuine movement towards sustainability — crucially not greenwashing — you can win customers that are seeking out businesses they see as being part of a social good.

“People will laud the businesses that are doing that, and will vote with their feet. It could be a marketing ploy for you. We know it’s not easy going green, but we’re going to give it a red-hot go.

“Report on what you’re doing. If you’re an early adopter around that, you might be surprised on how people support you as a consequence.

“You need to be careful that you’re not just greenwashing. If you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. People need to understand they can’t be smart about it. You can’t say one thing and do another. Pretty soon, that will work against you as well,” Tomasi says.

Don’t forget to make sure your own house is in order first too. If you’re sourcing products made sustainable, using renewable energy, but operate out of an older, poorly built building, the extra energy you’re wasting — likely generated by fossil fuels — can wipe out the gains elsewhere.

While energy sourcing and modernising the grid are large scale problems, you just need to focus on what you can do yourself.

“A retailer can’t decide to build a hydro plant, nuclear plant, or biomass plant. But the decisions made at that higher level will impact how they deliver their particular service or product,” Tomasi says.

For retailers completing their operations during the day, solar panels can be an easy win to source your own renewable energy.