About the Project
The Retail Horizons project was designed to support the industry’s drive to sustainability. Led by RILA and sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, and sponsored by Target and Unilever, this project provides retailers with the tools to take action to safeguard their future, protect our environment, and improve the lives of their customers, workers, and suppliers.
The world is changing rapidly in ways that have already had profound implications on the retail industry. 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 materials, are likely to become scarcer and more expensive. And data will be ubiquitous. To adapt and grow, retailers will need to use the framework of sustainability to innovate. The tools developed through this year-long partnership enable retailers to develop their strategies and innovation by taking advantage of the strategic lens of corporate sustainability.
Since 2013, RILA has researched significant changes that are affecting the retail industry, now a work area of our RILA Retail Innovation Center. We found that six “pressures” are driving the industry to significantly change-–and those changes are likely to accelerate in the future. The pressures include:
- Technology, including the internet, social media, 3D printers, and RFID.
- Demographics, including U.S. trends like diversity, multiculturalism, income disparity, and Millennials; and the population growth of consumers in developing markets.
- Transparency & big data, including an explosion of data about consumers, stores, supply chains, suppliers, and products, as well as reporting, activism, regulations, and privacy.
- New consumption patterns, like shared consumption, gamification, lifestyles shifts, experiences, reuse, and services.
- Resource constraints, including an explosion of global population and affluence, commodity volatility, fisheries/water/forests, and organizational and individual time constraints.
- Economics and politics
To respond, RILA, in partnership with Forum for the Future, embarked on a year-long project to explore how retail can integrate sustainability into the industry's future. The project was sponsored by Target and Unilever and involved over 50 RILA member brands.
The outcome of the year-long Retail Horizons program are free tools that retailers and product manufacturers can use to drive sustainable change within their organizations. They are all available in the downloadable toolkit and are further explored in the RILA Retail Innovation Center (RIC) RTech Future Retail Scenarios Report.