Opening a Zero-Waste Grocery Store – Consultancy Services & Online Courses
What if you want to be the next zero-waste entrepreneur, but you feel like you’re lacking that business background? Or what if you just don’t know where to start? I’ll point you in the right direction…
– Giulia Saladino | Bepakt
First of all, a zero-waste grocery store / packaging-free shop is a supermarket which aims to prevent any kind of packaging. This is how it works: customers bring their own reusable containers, canvas bags or glass jars, fill them up to the quantity of their needs – and pay accordingly. This method prevents a ton of packaging – especially the plastic kind – from reaching the trash bin, landfill and eventually the ocean.
Of course, as any other business, setting up a zero-waste grocery store requires some market research, planning and a business-minded approach. Don’t be scared! Some experienced zero-waste entrepreneurs have already thought about helping you! On this page you will find some of the existing online courses, tools and materials you can use in the process of setting up your shop, as well as consultancy services provided by some of these zero-waste entrepreneurs, in case you prefer real-life interaction and support!
“Setting Up a Zero Waste Shop”
by Nicola & Richard Eckersley of Earth.Food.Love
→ Free PDF
After opening their own package-free supermarkets in Totnes (UK), Nicola and Richard Eckersley, founders of Earth.Food.Love (Totnes, UK), decided to share their experience of opening a zero-waste grocery store with everyone, through a free PDF. There, they summarized the 10 most important steps of setting up a zero-waste shop of your own. Their guide will help you in the first stages of your setting-up process, preparing you for all the different phases towards the shop opening. The PDF helps you in becoming familiar with these main issues.
1) Choosing the right location, considering people’s interest, existing competition, rental prices.
2) Planning your budget, the expenses you will need to incur for the right equipment, for the first big supply, for business and branding advisors, for registering the shop etc.
3) Creating your own brand. How to keep it “simple, communicative and powerful”.
4) How to build interest and curiosity amongst people through marketing and advertising. The course sees social media marketing as the perfect tool to attract as many people as possible.
5) Buying the right equipment (containers, cash draw, scales) – Nicola & Richard give you some tips, contacts and discounts.
6) Choosing the best suppliers: highest quality at lowest price.
7) Deciding who you want to target as a customer. Beside zero-wasters, you might also decide to specialize in some specific niche products (e.g. olive oils, flours, spices…). It teaches you, for example, to think about the average age and income of your target audience.
8) You can sell both food and non-food products. What about packaging-free detergents, bamboo cutlery, books, reusable sanitaries…?
9) Hygiene is a must!
10) How do you want your clients to pay? Consider and choose the different paying methods.
But, above all, Nicola and Richard want to tell you not to stress about the business skills you might lack: they would like you to know that with love, commitment, patience and passion, your shop will be a success. All the legal and practical issues are a means to reach your goal: a great impact, avoiding tons of plastic packing from reaching our oceans!
“Your Zero Waste Store”
“Dein eigener Unverpackt Laden”
by Milena Glimbovsky of Original Unverpackt
If you are looking for more comprehensive and structured support, then you should definitely also consult this online course. It was created by Milena Glimbovski, founder of Original Unverpakt – which today is a zero-waste shop in Berlin, as well as an online shop and a magazine – inspiring people towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
After opening her own shop, Milena initially started running seminars in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to help entrepreneurs setting up their own packaging-free shops. And recently she decided to share her knowledge and experience online by providing a 20-part video-course – in German with English subtitles – with additional materials and tools to download. The course is a comprehensive guide encompassing tips, suggestions, insights and all the know-how you will need throughout the process of setting up your own packaging-free shop, while preventing you from making various “expensive mistakes”. Milena will prepare you for the struggles you will encounter, while reassuring you that it will be a lot of fun, too!
She will first make you reflect on whether this is the right job/adventure for you, while showing you all the pros and cons of undertaking it. Then she will accompanies you through all the steps, procedures and relevant activities.
Particular importance will be given to the business planning and the financing section. There, Milena will tirelessly show you the relevance of making a well thought-out business plan, which will serve as a structured guideline along the process (some useful materials will be provided to help you writing up your business plan step-by-step). She will then move on to present you the different options for financing your shop, by showing the pros and cons of each alternative (crowdfunding, bank loan, private investments… what to choose?)
After warning you about all the obstacles and challenges, and preparing you to structure your business project, you’ll arrive at the fun part of the course: how to take care of all the practical matters which will characterize your shop and make it unique? From finding the right property, choosing the products you will sell, engaging with the suppliers, buying the right shop equipments and making the nicest interior design, to dealing with necessities such as hygienic and safety regulations. Nothing will be left out!
During the whole course, Milena will train you to combine all the practical and exciting aspects of the shop with the business and financial ones: she will remind you it is a business venture and it has to be profitable in the first place to keep it running – and to bring some positive impact to the world! Hence, she will teach you how to adjust the profit margin according to sales and product typology; suggest the best esnterprise resource planning software; advise on how to best manage your team and how to manage the processes through protocols and check lists (which she will provide you), and more. Finally, she will give you some tips and insights on how to best conduct your marketing both offline and online to attract your clients and keep them always updated and connected to your shop, through newsletter and social media!
As a concluding remark, from Original Unverpakt online course you can definitely expect a very complete and well structured training, where every single aspect is considered and nothing is left out nor disregarded! The course costs 190€, but it is absolutely worth it if you want to start your own adventure in the best and most prepared way!
by Catherine Conway of Unpackaged
For real-life consultancy, get in contact with Catherine Conway, founder of Unpackaged (UK). In 2007 she founded the very first package-free grocery store in Europe. Through the Unpackaged website you can get in touch with the team, and receive consultancy services and support in the process of opening your packaging-free shop. They will help you in planning your venture, starting from the concept design, business model and financing. They will guide you through the different steps and choices you will have to make (location, equipment, products, suppliers…). Moreover, they will remain be by your side after your shop’s opening, taking care of the marketing and promotion, and the training of your staff. Besides all that, they will connect you with a big network, which will work in favour of your venture’s succes.
But that’s not all – Unpackaged also offers a wide range of consultancy services regarding the implementation of refill systems in your business; rethinking packaging in your supply chain; designing and sourcing sustainable packaging; as well as raising awareness on the zero-waste and circular economy concepts.
„Entwerfen eines Unverpackt-Ladens“
2-Day Workshops by Unverpackt Kiel
Marie Delaperrière, founder of Unverpakt Kiel (Germany) is offering 2-day workshops for aspiring packaging-free entrepreneurs. Just one year after she started to offer her courses, 16 package-free shops opened up around Germany. The workshops are offered at Unverpakt Kiel shop, in Kiel, and touch upon all the questions, doubts, curiosities you might have before or while starting your own packaging-free shop. Marie will provide you with answers, tips and ideas, to make the whole process smoother. The workshop costs 279€ (until 31.12.2017).
Moreover, Marie offers seminars (in German, English or French, which can take place either at their store or outside) about the zero-waste lifestyle and related topics, as well as consultancy services to shop founders, existing retailers, but also whoeveer wants to experiment and test concepts contributing to sell unpackged products! You can find all the info on Unverpakt Kiel website.
So, are you going to be the next “package-free entrepreneur”?
If you know (or are offering) any other online course, online guide, consultancy service or workshop to help people setting up their own package-free shop, feel free to share it with us in a comment. We are happy to spread such inspiring and helpful initiatives around!