Farfetch x Thrift+

LONDON — Farfetch is staying committed to its sustainability mission and introducing climate conscious deliveries.

Despite the shadow cast over the retail industry by the coronavirus pandemic, the retail platform said it wants to continue to invest in becoming more conscious, and is forging ahead with the Positively Farfetch series of initiatives that it introduced last year.

The retailer started by launching a handbag resale service, dedicated “conscious” sections on its site and secondhand clothing donations, all under the Positively Farfetch umbrella. Now it wants to tackle what it considers to be its largest direct operational environmental impact: The shipment of items from its network of more than 1,000 global partners.

The retailer has been working toward reducing the carbon emissions of its deliveries, as well as offsetting the remaining impact.

“Our focus, as it should be, is on reducing carbon emissions,” said Thomas Berry, Farfetch’s director of sustainable business.

“There are so many different ways you can do that: Shipping in more efficient packaging sizes; encouraging our boutiques and brands to use the right size boxes; moving to more renewable energy in the buildings we control, and where we can, shipping in bulk through our fulfillment network. All of those things will contribute significantly over time through reduction, but offsetting allows us to have a big impact immediately.”

To offset its deliveries and returns, the retailer plans to invest in four global environmental projects that focus on planting and protecting forests, and will be investing in renewable energy developments, across Brazil, the U.S., China and India.

Berry added that changing shipping practices and working toward making the retailer’s distribution network more efficient will also help to reduce delivery costs in the long term. As for the carbon-offsetting initiatives, it’s an investment Farfetch is committed to making despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“There are multiple benefits for us. We see it as a way to get immediate carbon reductions and fulfill the needs expressed by our consumers, who are interested in more sustainable delivery options,” added Berry. “The fact that we’re still launching at the time we planned shows that we are committed. We believe in sustainability being a really important part of our business – not something we’re doing on the side.”

According to Berry, customer response to existing initiatives has been another positive indicator, and highlights the importance of continuing to invest in the Positively Farfetch agenda. There’s been a spike in sales in the conscious edit, which is now live on the marketplace, while resale and donation services are showing healthy signs of customer retention and acquisition. There are plans to expand the resale services globally in the near future.

“The growth of these services is aligned with broader market trends and consumers having an increased environmental consciousness. It’s also impacting the kind of products consumers are looking for, both in terms of [buying] more conscious new products but also pre-owned products,” said Berry, adding that there are signs the current crisis will further consumer consciousness.

To that end, Farfetch will also be working towards integrating eco-friendly products further into its on-site marketing. “There’s lots of ways we can improve the customer journey for consumers who might be inspired to shop more positively,” he added.

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