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China’s retail sector sees rapid green transition

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Photo shows a biodegradable courier bag adopted by the Chinese department store Intime. (Photo from the official account of Alibaba Philanthropy on WeChat)
Photo shows a biodegradable courier bag adopted by the Chinese department store Intime. (Photo from the official account of Alibaba Philanthropy on WeChat)

By Ouyang Jie

This year, the Chinese department store Intime released a calendar that made an impression.

The calendar and its packaging were made of environment-friendly materials. Its stand and packing box were made of biodegradable kraft paper, and the calendar card can grow flowers if it is placed in the soil and watered.

According to an employee of Intime, the surprising innovation made calendars that would otherwise be discarded be reused.

“We hope to promote green consumption as a part of our everyday life,” the employee said.
Besides, the chain brand has also adopted biodegradable courier bags in its stores across China, which helps reduce the use of nearly 150 tons of plastic in total.

In Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong province, a shopping mall named Rock Square under CapitaLand Group has built a rooftop garden to offset the urban heat island effect. With water-conserving facilities, it boasts a comprehensive water-saving rate of 55.7 percent. The mall also improves its equipment maintenance and upkeep, lowering its comprehensive energy consumption by 43.8 percent.

In southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, Raffles shopping mall has created a fresh environment for consumers with multi-layer landscaping. Outside the shopping center, a rainwater recycling system has been installed to irrigate plants and reduce energy consumption.

According to a report on the development of China’s store retailing recently issued by the China Commerce Association for General Merchandise, although the revenue and net profit of the industry experienced contraction last year, many department stores had reinforced digital management to lower cost and improve efficiency, and constantly optimized their cost structure, following a green and environment-friendly philosophy.

Department stores have taken faster steps in digital transformation and upgrading. The report believes that the retailing sector has always been active in digital application due to its diverse business scenarios, and it still needs to improve its digital application and operation.

The report also said 86.5 percent of surveyed enterprises launched online businesses in 2022, and 64 percent of companies that have launched online businesses reported a higher percentage of revenue from their online sector.
Apart from the online business, department store retailers also adopted various technology applications offline.

According to the report, 65.4 percent of respondents have adopted the self-checkout system. Customers could pay at self-service cash registers or with WeChat mini-programs, and enterprises could collect consumption data with the system, so as to manage membership in an intelligent and digital way. The report said 8.7 percent of respondents reported higher foot traffic after adopting more tech-ish applications.

Department store retailers have made green development a part of their operation and management to promote sustainable development and low-carbon transition. Consumers today pay more attention to environmental protection, so department stores have followed the trend to champion green, low-carbon and healthy lifestyles, applying energy-conserving and carbon-reduction measures in their operation.

Department store retailers are confident about their development in 2023. The report said 85.7 percent of surveyed enterprises expect higher sales revenue this year.

They believe the consumption of higher-quality products will increase, and enterprises will keep improving the value of their commodities and services, build a better consumption environment, and provide better experiences to meet consumers’ demands.

Besides, retailers will work to improve operational efficiency and strengthen targeted management through digitalization, so as to enhance their core competitiveness.

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