The Future of Carbon-Neutral Commerce with EcoCart’s Peter Twomey
We sat down with Peter to learn about how he aligns mission and metrics, approaches on-platform integration cycles, and thinks about today's generation of eco-conscious customers.
Social Pressure & Behavioral Trends
EcoCart works with 10K+ brands to offset the environmental costs of customer orders.
A pair of sneakers might emit 75 pounds of CO2 while traveling to the customer's doorstep, but by paying an extra 50 cents through EcoCart, the customer can plant a tree that neutralizes the carbon emissions of their purchase.
EcoCart works with online merchants across all verticals, but according to Peter, there are four industries that have the most to gain from their solution:
- Food & beverage
- Personal care
- Health & wellness
Most consumers view these industries as highly wasteful—primarily due to their plastic use and unethical manufacturing. The personal care and health & wellness categories have recently gotten pushback from customers who are seeking out more sustainable, ethical options.
Now, big players across both these industries, such as Sephora and Ulta, are responding with new practices, including EcoCart.
The same can be said for fashion consumers, who are equally as motivated to shop sustainably, especially after watching viral videos of landfills filled with discarded clothing.
These cultural trends are pushing brands to openly address these problems and engage customers.
That might look like a brand sharing their environmental impact in their email marketing or presenting the consumer with alternative options as they're shopping.
“Commerce trickles down to how the end consumer feels emotionally about these industries. As it stands, shoppers view them all as wasteful.”
EcoCart’s Platform: Phased Integration
To maximize both the environmental impact and economic KPIs for merchants, Peter recommends incorporating sustainability messaging throughout the entire customer experience.
As a shopper, it's a "green flag" to see a brand's environmental impact on their homepage (i.e. "We've offset one million pounds of CO2 and planted 100,000 trees.").
Studies show that seeing a brand's commitment to eco-responsibility can convince a new customer to give the brand a try.
At checkout (where EcoCart comes in), customers have the option to pay a bit extra to make their order carbon neutral.
Most customers think going carbon neutral sounds great in theory, but in reality, they have no idea what that means. As a result, transparency and openness around impact scores is key.
With EcoCart, customers can click to read more about how the carbon footprint of their unique order is calculated—based on factors such as shipping distance, package weight, and more.
Then, EcoCart provides more digestible metrics to better understand the customer's carbon offset. For example, the average customer typically doesn't understand what 100 pounds of carbon emissions look like, but they're familiar with the equal value, which is driving 120 miles in a car.
EcoCart's offset projects include planting trees, building wind farms, and enabling sustainable agriculture; each initiative works to reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere while doing good.
This information is strategically layered on top of the customer journey (in phases) to not obstruct the checkout process. When executed correctly, merchants can help their customers feel educated and engaged through tangible, customized experiences at scale.
“We're incorporating multiple layers of transparency so that the customer feels extremely engaged while going through a highly personalized experience.”
Mission & Metrics: The Perfect Alignment
EcoCart drives growth for its brand partners across three core metrics:
- Cart conversion
- Repurchase rate
- Average order value
As it relates to repurchase rate, over 20% of shoppers who go through checkout via EcoCart end up returning to that same merchant and using the EcoCart option again.
In addition to the short-term quantitative ROI of using EcoCart, there are a range of intangible benefits associated with stronger customer engagement and mission-driven marketing around sustainability.
Instead of burying info about environmental initiatives or charitable donations on an impact page, Peter recommends bringing eco-responsibility front and center.
During the early days of EcoCart, the team never expected to be able to drive alignment between mission impact and metrics impact.
To put it bluntly, Peter never expected the platform to drive such significant KPI improvements for partner brands. They initially believed that EcoCart's value would primarily lie in its ability to drive brand-building and engagement, but EcoCart actually makes a big difference.
“Up until earlier this year, we genuinely didn’t expect to see metric growth across cart conversion, repurchase rate, and AOV. That was a surprise.”
Eco-responsibility as a Baseline
To the modern consumer, proactivity around a brand's carbon footprint is more of a baseline requirement than a differentiating factor.
To stand out, he recommends meeting new customers where they are.
Because consumers are more skeptical of brands’ public personas, they’re much more likely to do their own research and hold companies accountable for their carbon impact. That’s where EcoCart can help them out.
EcoCart’s ethos of transparency around how they calculate carbon footprints and spend the money provides shoppers with a sense of security and trust.
Without this transparency, Peter warns brands that they can quickly be accused of greenwashing—the practice of using eco-language to trick shoppers into thinking they're making a difference when they're really not.
“As an emerging brand, you need in-depth transparency around what you're doing to be carbon neutral. Otherwise, you’ll get called out. It’s that simple.”
Raising Capital: Playing the Long Game
In the process of raising their $3 million seed round, Peter says the team looked for a lead investor who understood the ecommerce landscape, aligned themselves with their mission, shared a climate-driven perspective, and prioritized making a long-term impact on the planet.
Since the intersection of climate tech and ecommerce is a hot space, Peter noted that they did turn down larger checks just so they could stay true to their strategy.
“Having the right people around the table is everything. It was crucial to ensure that investors were aligned with our mission and strategic goals.”
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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