To understand fair and ethical eCommerce let’s first take a look about how it all started.
Where it All Began
The concept of Fair Trade is certainly not a new one, in fact the Fair Trade movement began in the 1960s. The early days of Fair Trade started with conscious individuals and organizations from more-developed nations (namely the US and parts of Europe) purchasing crafts and needlework from developing countries in order to provide vital income for local communities.
During the 70s and 80s Fair Trade really gained pace thanks to the help of NGOs who came together to provide advice, assistance and support to disadvantaged producers from Asia, Africa and Latin America. As Fair Trade movement gained momentum the amounts and types of goods being purchased diversified to include foods such as coffee, sugar, nuts, rice etc. Cotton, clothing and other non-food products were later also added to the list of Fair Trade goods.
Defining Fair & Ethical Trade
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
Fair Trade organisations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” World Fair Trade Organisation.
Ethical or responsible trading is a newer concept. Ethical trade includes Fair Trade practices but it is also used as a much broader term to include concerns such as the social and environmental responsibility involved in trading and giving something back.
Fair and Ethical eCommerce
Buying fair and ethical goods online has become a whole lot easier in recent years thanks to the general rise in eCommerce and the ability for businesses to now easily set up eCommerce stores on platforms such as Shopify, Wix and Magento. However, maintaining a viable online store is no easy feat.
The biggest issue fair and ethical eCommerce stores face is more or less the same issue brick and mortar stores face in setting up their businesses and when trying to sell these goods. Money. Not only are there significant additional costs involved in sourcing ethical materials, paying artisans a fair wage etc. But then there’s the ongoing struggle to convince customers to buy Fair Trade goods, which are often more expensive, when they can find similar goods way cheaper elsewhere. The latter is very much related to the fact for that for some customers the idea of fair and ethical eCommerce is still a bit of a mystery. Stores need to make sure they make it clear what they are all about online and explain to potential customers why buying from them is just better for everyone.
So to give fair and ethical eCommerce stores a bit of boost we found seven awesome online retailers who are certainly worth checking out. They’re all a little different in what they stand for, what they sell and where they source their goods, so be sure to understand that no two fair and ethical eCommerce stores are the same…