Offering mass-produced disposable furniture at cheap prices, IKEA probably doesn’t seem like much of a model for sustainability at first glance.
But look a little closer, read a little more into their philosophy and ideology, and you’ll soon find they’ve got a much better approach than most other multinational companies when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
Just last year, they managed to send zero waste to landfill in the UK – in fact, they’ve managed to turn a profit from waste by recycling it for use in their products.
And their determination to be a green company is translated into how they set up and run new stores.
From 25 electric car-charging points to 75 cycle spaces, a water-collecting biodiverse roof garden to solar panels, recently released plans for opening another IKEA shop in London were packed full of quirky but efficient green measures.
The more we look, the more we think they’re the perfect inspiration for entrepreneurs aiming to launch a sustainable shop.
So to help you get your eco-friendly retail empire off to a flying start, we’re running through a few basic rules and top tips inspired by IKEA’s approach to business. Take a look.
It’s all in the planning
We know you’re itching to get going (mostly so you can start making some money) but take a deep breath and keep your excitement in check. There’s no point rushing in without thinking everything through.
You’ll only end up making mistakes.
Take the time now to do your research. Identify key industries with a high demand for sustainability, analyse your competitors and put together some predictions for your budget and potential profit margins.
Once you’ve exhausted your resources and collected all the data you possibly can, finalise a business plan and start exploring your funding options. As well as loans from banks or charities, think about how you could also use crowdfunding to create a buzz around your plans.
Location, location, location
IKEA’s new store is focusing on social responsibility alongside environmental sustainability, with bold talk about community gardens and running green events and talks for visitors.
Follow their lead, and try to pick a location where your business will make a valuable contribution to the local community. Whether you’re searching for a shop to let in London or Edinburgh, start the hunt using an online database to pinpoint suitable premises in your ideal location.
And when it comes to the properties themselves, hard as it may be, try to look past any outdated, dingy interiors and shabby fittings currently in place. Once you’ve signed the lease, you can make a few green renovations and redecorate in your style.
Getting the products right
It doesn’t matter what the nature of your new retail business is, whether you’re aiming to open a luxury homeware shop or a quirky gift shop, there are plenty of ways to ensure your offerings are sustainable.
Always source all products and materials (including carrier bags or wrappings you’ll be giving out to customers) from ethical suppliers.
If there are local artists or manufacturers specialising in creating sustainable, environmentally-friendly products and you think they’d do brilliantly in your shop, then strike up a conversation and see if you can form a working relationship with them.
You may not have IKEA’s budget to implement things like roof gardens and solar panels, but if you start small and think each stage through, you’ll be able to launch a sustainable and successful new shop.
Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.