CNSS Session Recap: “Allbirds Commitment to Sustainability In the Next Normal” with Allbirds and Shopify

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With “conscious consumerism” on the rise, more and more consumers are interested in buying from sustainable brands who use eco-friendly materials or production practices. Allbirds is one brand that has taken retail by storm, most well-known for their sustainable footwear. In the CommerceNext Spring Summit session, Allbirds Commitment To Sustainability In The Next Normal, Allbirds’ Head of Global Retail Ops, Travis Boyce and Kristen LaFrance, Head of Resilient Retail at Shopify discussed Allbirds’ sustainability commitment and retail journey.

Read the session recap below or watch the session on our Youtube Channel.


“Conscious consumerism” and the Pandemic

Shopify data shows that the pandemic has increased consumers interest in purchasing from brands who take a stance on some issue or have strong values. Even before the pandemic, Allbirds saw the interest level of sustainability gain a lot of momentum. Consumers have steadily increased their attention paid to where products are made, what they’re made of and the impact they have on the environment, buying from brands whose practices fit their own philosophy. They hope that other brands start to see these connections and move towards putting human health and planet health first by reducing carbon impact. Boyce put it best: “sustainability is not a ‘nice to have’ for the world, it’s a ‘need to have.’”

The Importance of Retail to Allbirds

Allbirds was one of the first ecommerce DTC brands to aggressively enter into brick and mortar retail. They find it important because the products are highly tactile, so they’re hard to replicate online. Being in retail allows them to tell a richer story, showing that the products are more comfortable while also sustainable. Stores are great for an in-person, immediate view of customer feedback, where customers can even be seen as brand ambassadors sharing the brand story and products with friends and peers.

Customers and Feedback

Allbirds has several methods to listen to customers and receive feedback, such as collecting data in-store, online, through consumer feedback sessions and even speaking to non-customer consumers. From there, the way data is handled is very intentional—with an entire department focused on consumer insights, they’re able to sort through the data to create actionable insights that are then given to the right team, whether that be retail, product development or operations.

Building Trust

Brands are nothing without the relationship of trust between consumer and brand. For Allbirds, consumers trust that they are genuine in their sustainability efforts and are constantly working to improve themselves. They use carbon labels, which show the carbon footprint of each item. Over time, through a variety of sustainable practices, the impact of each item decreases, which can be seen on the product’s carbon labels. As Shopify put it, “a brand is a signal of trust over time” and Allbirds signals this by grading themselves for the customer, showing their commitment to continuous improvement.

For other brands trying to dip their toes into sustainability, it’s important to start by measuring* and understanding what your impact is—work to reduce that and slowly chip away, rather than trying to make huge strides in each step. Once you know what impact you’re making and how you’re changing it, communicate those values with the customer and bring them along the journey with you. Customers will spot companies who are using sustainability as a marketing tactic, so be genuine, creative and adaptive. Through trust, innovative retail, being highly attuned to customer feedback and quick-thinking, Allbirds is leading the way in “conscious consumerism.”

*Allbirds has released a tool for brands to measure their carbon score.

Watch the full session and others from the CommerceNext Spring Summit on our Youtube Channel.