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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and global sustainability nonprofit organization Forum for the Future have put out a two-minute video introducing the Retail Horizons program in advance of RILA's 2014 Retail Sustainability Conference, slated for Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Minneapolis.
Sponsored by Target and Unilever, the sustainability program was born of a year-long collaboration among 50 retail and consumer product brands and aims to give retailers the proper tools to ensure their futures, protect the environment, and better the lives of their customers, workers and suppliers.
The video traces the retail industry's path from its origins in open-air markets to the omnipresence of today, enabled by major technological advances, and urges retailers and other stakeholders to employ the Retail Horizons toolkit to devise innovative, adaptive strategies.
"The world is changing rapidly in ways that have already had profound implications on the retail industry," noted Adam Siegel, VP of sustainability and compliance at Arlington, Va.-based RILA. "Technologies like the internet and mobile devices will enable retailers to exist everywhere; consumers' expectations around transparency, service, speed and experience will continue to expand; resources, such as water and raw materials, are likely to become scarcer and more expensive; and data will be ubiquitous. To adapt and grow, retailers can use sustainability as a framework for innovation."
Interactive Sessions Planned
Sally Uren, CEO of London-based Forum for the Future, will officially launch the program before an audience of 450 retail sustainability and environmental compliance professionals at the Retail Sustainability Conference. Attendees will be able to delve into materials consisting of four "futures scenarios" and the free toolkit, in three interactive two-hour work sessions: Future of Stores, Future of Products and Value Chains, and Future of Consumers & Employees.
"Other industries have recognized the power of sustainability to drive the innovation needed if they are going to thrive into the long-term," observed Helen Clarkson, director at Forum for the Future US, in Brooklyn, N.Y. "The tools that we have developed through our work on Retail Horizons can help companies in the retail industry think through which challenges are most critical to them and how to tackle them to bring about the change we need for a sustainable future."