Ethical commerce is a concept that has made popular headways over the last 5 years or so, largely inspired by the sustainable fashion movement; yet it’s found space across industries and presents itself in multiple forms.
Altruism is now seen as a sales prompt for a growing percentage of switched on consumers; it’s a whole other issue to get into if that's a good thing or not, but it shows a rise in customers that care - and aren’t afraid to actively avoid brands that don't, as well as letting them know.
Transparency online seems to be the main focus for this new type of consumer - the expectation is for brands to be honest and supply all the details so the consumer can now make an educated decision. Brands like Reformation, Arket & Patagonia have made headways in this “radical transparency movement” and really integrated it as a feature into their eCommerce environment. It not only adds a breadth of information on the products to help consumers decide on their purchase, it also becomes a unique website feature and branding exercise. If done correctly and honestly, it can really be a win-win for consumers, the brand, and the cause.
With the world in a place of uncertainty, consumers are now using their dollars to bid for the futures they want to see in retail and consumer goods. Although this is only a minority stake currently, it is a percentage that continues to grow. In a survey done by McKinsey, 66% of consumers now consider the sustainability of a good before purchasing. For fashion alone, the global ethical market size reached close to 6.35 billion in 2019 and had increased at a compound growth rate of 8.7% since 2015. It’s expected to continue growing to 8.25 billion in 2023 - and can mainly be accredited to increase in awareness in ethical fashion and sustainability in general.
What does this mean for retailers? Depending on your product offering and positioning it could be a good time to update your eCommerce platform to reflect a genuine and transparent mentality for your brand.
As with this trend also comes the band-wagoners of people who jump on with their facade of greenwashing; however, customers are getting smarter than that. So this is really only something to consider if it aligns with your businesses goals, ethos and practices.
Businesses are now better off with being honest and transparent, even if it shows flaws in their supply chain, than using vague languages that hide the fact or indicates they’re something they’re not. So the age old saying “honesty is the best policy” seems to be having a resurgence.
Whether it being opting to use proceeds of your business to make change, support charitable endeavours, or even doing something as simple as using eco mailers and compostable packaging (or cutting down on packing all together, as 75% of users asked in a survey said they want brands to reduce the amount of packaging they use).
There are a variety of baby steps that are a good place to start for an eCommerce brands consumer experience in this space, and incorporating this messaging into your platform is ensuring it’s something that lives and breathes for your brand, highlighting one of the benefits of choosing you over competitors.