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©Fabacus, L-R: Xeni, Abbasi, Kozlowska and Zofia Zwieglinska

Shoptalk Europe 2024: Fashion tackles sustainability

By Miya Knights, Publisher | Wednesday June 12 2024 | UPDATED 02.07.24

Chalhoub Group, Nobody’s Child and Zalando reveal how tech is helping to reduce supply chain waste and emissions

As retailers and brands convened in Barcelona last week for the annual trade show, Shoptalk Europe, three diverse brand and retail operators met to discuss their sustainability efforts during a panel session.

The fashion retailers revealed how they are developing technology and partnerships to enhance the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and improve their environmental impact.

Discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities in reducing supply chain and fulfilment waste and emissions while achieving growth and scale. They also highlighted the growing importance of data.

Karolina Kozlowska, product director at ZEOS, the business-to-business (B2B) arm of Zalando, set the tone for the panel by saying: “We want to ensure sustainability for brands and business efficiency at the same time.”

Sustainability in ecommerce

Kozlowska explained that, as the parent company of ZEOS, Zalando – a German online retailer of shoes, fashion and beauty active across 25 European markets – is helping brands it works with cut emissions.

She said that having efficient physical and digital operations were vital in Europe's complex logistics landscape, adding that brands could save $100 million (£78m) through process consolidation and integration.

Alongside the other panellists, she also emphasised the importance of accurate and high-quality data for informed decision making, and the implementation of data-driven product planning and supply chains.

Kamran Abbasi, chief technology and data officer, Chalhoub Group, echoed this sentiment when he said: “Our stock accuracy wasn't at the right level. So, we implemented a new demand planning tool.”

Reduced waste and emissions

Chalhoub Group is a luxury goods retailer and distributor in the Middle East with a portfolio of eight owned brands and over 300 international brands, operating over 650 stores and over 60 ecommerce websites.

Abbasi also highlighted work to improve lead planning as part of Chalhoub's sustainability journey and efficiency efforts. New route planning software has cut distribution and fulfilment transport emissions.

The final area he highlighted at Chalhoub was returns, where he said that returns amounted to 20-30% of all online fashion sales. But improving content so shoppers buy the right product first time has reduced returns by up to 8%.

Representing the clothing brand, Nobody's Child, its founder and chairman, Andrew Xeni, chose to focus on the importance of ethical sourcing. He said 99% of his company’s fabrics are sustainably ethical.

Data-driven decision making

Marks & Spencer acquired a 27% stake in Nobody's Child and expanded sales to 60 UK stores. The High Street retailer said domestic sales of the brand also jumped by +126% year-on-year on M&S.com.

Having to manage such rapid growth led Xeni to also found the data and tech business, Fabacus, which is designed to improve supplier and materials traceability in the $360 billion (£280bn) licensing industry.

As a result, Nobody’s Child is one of the first brands to launch a digital product passport (DPP) to include information about a product’s origins, material composition, sustainability and recyclability.

By 2030, every textile product for sale in the European Union will need a DPP. Here, Xeni echoed the sentiments of the other two panellists in stressing the importance of data quality.

Circularity, tech and regulation

Xeni added: “As a brand, you take accountability of what you want to present to your customers, and how you want to present it; and, the platform facilitates that with over 150 data points.”

He said Nobody’s Child had partnered to understand the carbon and water footprints of its products, as well the energy used to produce its goods down to product level.

Meanwhile, Kozlowska highlighted the launch of a new replenishment assistance toolset by ZEOS to advise brands on the environmental impact of doing business with Zalando and help reduce the amount parcel deliveries.

She also said that Zalando is using an AI-powered DPP to help brands optimise inventory and reduce returns, while Abbasi added that Chaloub was testing different circular business models, such as rentals.

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