Innovative Retailer – Iceland

Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS Group

Name: Iceland

The Place: 900 stores across the UK and 23,000 employees.

Can I just clarify so our readers don’t get worried – obviously this Iceland will be some kind of terribly modern and ironic ice cream brand or something: No

But what I mean is: clearly we’re not talking about the old High Street Iceland, frozen peas shop: Yes.

Oh: What, you think a retailer born in the 1970s cannot be innovative, is that it?

Umm: Well, shame on you. We are indeed profiling that Iceland. Now listen up. Ethical consuming – what’s the worst thing about it?

Dunno. Never done it: Ignoramus. The problem with it is the blinking time it takes to read everything to make sure it has been properly looked after /sourced/packaged in a way that won’t hasten the end of the world.

People do that? YES, people do that! It can add ages to the shop – what with squinting at the small print to see if the pigs were really kept outdoors and attempting to open egg boxes to read if the hens had access to grass. And of course then there are the two new biggies in the room and I don’t need to tell you what they are.

Yeees, but it never hurts to do a reminder. For other people: Sigh. Palm oil is one. And plastic packaging is the other.

Totally knew that: And this is where Iceland comes in – in a very big way. Get this: on palm oil Iceland is aiming to be the first big UK supermarket to eliminate the nasty stuff from all of its own label range.

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why it’s bad? No, the majority of consumers don’t apparently. But I’ve got one word for you: Orangutans – extinct. Alright two words. It’s insidious and already in a whopping 50% of all supermarket products. It is officially a BAD thing.

Extinct is a long time: Damn right. And Iceland has gone right out there and taken that fight to the consumer. Money where your mouth is. Don’t want palm oil – shop here.

Yes, but when though? By the end of 2018.

Blimey: It has already removed the ingredient from 50% of the own products and the whole new summer range is palm-oil free.

They should be making more of this: I know, right! Do you have any idea what it’s like to take small children round a supermarket to buy biscuits if you are trying to avoid palm oil. Not pleasant. Tears.

And that’s just you! I thought there was good and bad palm though: Blah blah blah. What are you going to do? Pay lip service and hope to god that it is actually sustainable or cut it out altogether. Go TeamIceland!!

Do you know I never realised that Sir Malcolm Walker was such an eco-warrior. Wrong Walker. The green one is Richard Walker (37), offspring of Sir Malcolm who now runs the business.

Aha. Well I think even I can guess his views on plastic: Yes you can. And in yet another first in retailing…

Iceland seems to be specialising in them: The mark of innovation. In another first, Iceland is aiming to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-label range by

Next week? Not quite, end of 2023, this is a very big undertaking. But the consumer rewards could be huge. Most people want something done.

What do you use instead of plastics? All its new food ranges in 2018 have been packaged in pulp/paper-based trays, which are fully recyclable. Genuinely, supermarket people, there is no need to wrap bananas in plastic anymore.

But how will people actually know? Worry not, there is a new Trust Mark on the block. The brainchild of Plastic Planet, it will sit on the front of packaging to indicate that plastic is not present.

So if I went into an Iceland now… You would see that its own-brand eggs, cottage pie, veggie burgers to name a few hold the mark. And soft fruit, mushrooms and spuds soon will.

Other supermarkets – take note: Too right. Richard W thinks neither recycling more plastic or plastic-free aisles are the answer. Like palm oil, you just need to cut it right out.

You know I’m properly warming to this Walker fellow: There is more actually.

Spill: It is running various trials with reverse vending machine.

Yup, no idea what that means: It’s like a bottle deposit scheme. You take your plastic bottle back to Iceland and put it in the vending machine and it will give you money or a money-off voucher in return. If consumers use it and like it, then expect to see more.

Great stuff. And very topical: And that’s the key. Back in 2001 Iceland suddenly announced it was going completely organic. The customers were not ready for it at all and the whole thing was shelved again pretty quickly.

Not good PR: Exactly, but these latest moves feel much more measured and tested. Less sprung on an unsuspecting public, and more driven by consumer pressure.

Of course, to be too far ahead of the curve can spell disaster: But if Iceland can ride the wave of anti-plastic and anti-palm oil feeling then…

We’re all better off? We really are.

PCMS is a global provider of IT software and services for the retail industry. PCMS offers a full-range of integrated commerce solutions across selling touch points and also provides turnkey managed services and cloud hosting. Its client list includes John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Whole Foods, as well as Walgreens in the US and fashion brands including Prada and Ferragamo across Europe