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.”
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