“EcoCommerce adds an ecological dimension to the economy and is a new discipline for one of the planet’s biggest issues: how can we value the economic and life-giving services that our planet has provided free for millenniums.” –Tim Gieseke, author of EcoCommerce 101
A significant percentage of upper middle-class consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact on the earth, and realizing that they can make a difference with their dollars. These consumers are thus beginning to look for products with longevity built into design, turning away from obsolescence. Since service industries cater to nearly every need, and active involvement in primary industries is long gone from the daily lives of most well-to-do families and individuals, these consumers are beginning to research the so-called ecocommerce to find products that they believe can help make a difference.
This boom in commerce for sustainable lifestyles has opened up an entirely new market for prospective entrepreneurs, adding to the growing lists of existing businesses. As many large businesses know where their maximum profit lies, they have come to understand that the only way for them to continue their activities and manage success in the long run is to introduce their own sustainable products. This is evidenced in Tim Gieseke’s book EcoCommerce 101, where he points out how “ecocommerce creates a market signal for the environment to create new economics for a new millennium.”
The development of products that meet the demands of the increasingly growing sector of conscientious consumers is putting several large companies on a new, more environmentally aware map, alongside their smaller competitors. Since this is happening in the age of technology, the massive impact of the Internet and social media as well as e-commerce platforms play major roles in the making or breaking of a company’s stab at ‘eco’ anything. Consumers who want to make the smallest negative environmental impact possible are still consumers, and will thus buy what is presented to them in a way that makes them want it. Developers of e-commerce platforms should also realize the impact of online shopping as a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional in-store shopping, and aim their sites in a way that still renders the act of shopping enjoyable and exciting.
Website developer Springfels.com has been subcontracted to develop e-commerce services for a number of small sustainability-oriented businesses. One of their most successful collaborators is Greenling, an Austin-based, organic, local grocery delivery system that can be set up and monitored online. Springfels was successful in developing an appraised online shopping experience and community that allows consumers, farmers and sellers to interact. The website developer also updated the site of t-shirt manufacturer Green Label Organic, creating another shopping experience that is very user-centric. Besides information on fabrics, manufacturing and design, the scrollers, slideshows and easy shopping cart make for an enjoyable way to purchase responsibly made clothes. Leaning also towards the service industry, Springfels re-designed the website of Marodyne Medical, a company that aims to commercialize drug-free bio-physical interventions for chronic illness and injury.
Larger ventures, however, are mostly based in the fashion industry, with online retailers launching sections that feature only sustainable, green brands. E-commerce platform yoox.com has delved into the arena of sustainable fashion with YOOXOGEN, which “aims to spread environmental awareness by collaborating with a series of international brands, designers and talents.” Online retail giant ASOS has also jumped on board with The Green Room, which showcases brands that have ethical or eco-conscious collections. Even the mother of fast-fashion H&M has caught on with the Conscious Collection, although they still have work to do in making the line more visible in their online store.
Other online retailers showcase a plethora of objects so consumers can find all their needs in one place. Although not always comprehensive in their offerings, some sites such as Nigel’s Eco Store, which boasts anything from heating appliances to playhouses to sun care products, have become noteworthy. Do Good Planet, a beta platform geared towards North American customers, boasts resources for finding green jobs and volunteering opportunities, as well as a “Do Good” community. Zem Joaquin’s ecofabulous.com also receives top grades, as even though it is not an e-commerce platform, it acts as a great resource for consumers who want to find reliable, eco-friendly products.
Becoming more of a reality than an ideal, ecocommerce may well end up losing its ‘eco’ prefix and become the norm for retailers and consumers. Information hubs surrounding topics of environmentalism, fair labor, local production, and intelligent design are increasing and need to be paired investors who will turn ideas into competitive and financially stabilizing products and services.
E-commerce for sustainability is a growing modern strategy, and is expected to spread information formulated in any particular hub to broad audiences. The financial implication of ecocommerce is more than just a strategy, and should become a long-term consideration for all businesses. The sooner businesses involved in the realm of online sales jump on the bandwagon and develop products or product/service hubs that offer sustainable choices, the sooner they will succeed in securing success for the future.