Aligning Purpose With Growth: Enabling Ethical Decision Making in a Growing Digital Business

May 06, 2022

“It’s about happier people, happier business, happier planet,” says Laura Burbedge, the Online Director at Waitrose & Partners and speaker at IRX. In this session, Laura will describe how the organization uses Purpose to drive decision-making.  Covering elements such as customer experience, website accessibility, sustainability, use of electric vehicles, and driver conditions, Laura will give real examples of how she and her team make decisions that support growth whilst staying true to the businesses principles and purpose.

People, Planet, Business – The New Purpose

At Waitrose, finding a solution to a global problem means starting local. “Our operating model ensures that 80% customers who order online will receive goods from their local store, thereby supporting the local community and reducing the carbon footprint behind deliveries.”

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The company’s carbon footprint is minimised further by the fleet of electric vehicles currently on trial, including biomethane HGVs.

Single use plastics are also high on the agenda. “We’re continuing to remove unnecessary packaging in our supply chain where we can and introduce alternative materials to make recycling easier. We removed plastic bags from online orders and are currently trialling different plastics and packaging, particularly with the Duchy brand.

“We’ve recently introduced clear caps on our milk bottles, because unlike coloured ones, they can be recycled back into food grade packaging. Ultimately, our goal is for all own-brand packaging will be reusable, widely recyclable or home-compostable by 2023.”

‘We can’t afford not to lean into sustainability in a serious way’

Adopting the principles of the circular economy will significantly support Waitrose in achieving its goals. In the circular economy, instead of taking resources from the earth, using them once, and disposing of them in landfill, materials are kept in use for as long as possible.

One example of this is the launch of the UK’s first bottle and can deposit return scheme set to be introduced in Scotland next summer. Laura explains: “The circular economy is a big consideration for the grocery industry and will manifest itself next year through the deposit return scheme in Scotland. The challenge for retailers is to ensure they have the facilities in store to collect the bottles and cans.”

Looking ahead in the world of e-commerce Laura identifies ‘a trend but also a dilemma,’ which has potential repercussions on the planet. “Everything is now about fast-convenience – ‘I want everything and I want it in a few minutes time’. We’re among many supermarkets now offering grocery delivery in as little as 20 minutes – that’s where the market’s going and where the investment is. However, the dilemma we face is that this practice is ultimately putting more miles on the road. We need to satisfy customers’ needs – but in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the planet.

“As an industry we really need to lean into this – how can we meet the demand for hyper convenience without impacting the environment via vehicle pollution, noise pollution and increased congestion? We can’t afford as a country – and as a planet – not to lean into sustainability in a serious way.”

At a time when brand values matter more than ever, Waitrose’s new purpose addresses the currently global challenges head on. “Our purpose – people, planet and business – ensures that environmental responsibility and the wellbeing of the communities where we operate go hand in hand with good business,” Laura concludes.

About Laura Burbedge

Laura’s journey began graduating from University with a Software Engineers degree, where she was selected to join M&S as part of the graduate programme. After M&S, Laura pivoted into Product Management working as a consultant with leading retailers and global brands to develop customer-first online and omnichannel experiences. Since Laura’s arrival at Waitrose, she has led the reinvention of, migrating to a fully cloud based, microservice architecture across the Web, App and digital contact centre experience. She introduced product management and agile ways of working to Waitrose and scaled a multi-disciplinary team of over 200 people all focused on delivering market leading digital experiences for Waitrose customers and partners. In this time has tripled in size and launched a new fast convenience offer in partnership with Deliveroo.

Laura Burbedge, Online Director at Waitrose & Partners, is delivering the conference keynote at IRX: Aligning purpose with growth: enabling ethical decision making in a growing digital business.

(InternetRetailing Expo) & eDX (eDelivery Expo) takes place on 11 & 12 May 2022.

Register for free here


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