Thursday, September 4, 2008

Doing a World of Good

According to the Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International, consumers spent over 2.3 billion euros on Fairtrade certified products in 2007. This represents a 47% increase on the previous year and means that over 1.5 million producers and workers in 58 developing countries now benefit from Fairtrade sales.

Into this growing opportunity space, welcome World of Good Marketplace, a new-to-the-world partnership between ebay and fairtrade wholesaler World of Good, Inc. The business, called, enables users to fulfill their desire to own authentic, responsibly made and sold products and know the stories behind them. In millennial perfect pitch, uses e-commerce to promote social responsibility globally.

Launched September 2, 2008, brings to users’ fingertips products from all over the world that are verified as People- and Eco-Positive by independent trust certifiers. Well-known organizations like 10,000 Villages, Novica and World of Good, Inc. can participate, and so can individual artisans and small importers of fair trade goods. To build confidence in the marketplace, all of the products on have a trust certification and each product’s and producer’s impact is documented. “Trustology” is the hierarchy of trust certifications at the product, producer, and seller levels. “Goodprint” reports the impact on people, the environment, animals and the causes the producer supports so that buyers can select the kind of impact their consumption has on the world.

The concept is compelling, trend-right, and well-intentioned. The functionality is undoubtedly great, given the talent at ebay. Huge kudos to World of Good, Inc. and ebay.

However, this site is a cold e-commerce site. It lacks charm, ethnicity and visual expression equal to the aspirations underlying the concept. Producer profiles and product backstories are missing, too. A few are available in a PDF buried in the "media kit" which is really missing the point. These can, and hopefully will, be added to the commerce site soon. Emotional connections are key to drawing users in and keeping them engaged. The intellectual appeal is powerful, but will only last so long.

So, here’s my advice: take the weekend off to celebrate. Then, get back to work defining and building a branded look and feel and content worthy of the vision of this exciting new concept.

1 comment:

Judy Hopelain said...

I stand corrected. Megan MacDonald pointed out that the producer profiles are actually included on each product page. My bad. I did look at a few product pages but didn't really "see" the producer storyline. I think the whole page looks washed out, the photo of the artist is blurry, and most importantly from my perspective, there's nothing to connect it to the country or region design-wise.

There's a real opportunity to build stories about the different regions, countries, tribes these products come from. They obviously had to build the site from the most granular level up – so this is a natural starting point. But the romance of the idea is so powerful – both at the individual producer level and maybe even moreso at some higher level of aggregation (again, tribe, country, region) where the design elements are really evocative.

To follow my thinking, there would be a different look and feel, different audio, different market information...and a different feeling... in the part of the site that's about Africa vs. Australia.