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Nathan Resnick:

Hey, what’s going on? It’s Nathan Resnick with Sourcify. Today, we have one of my favorite online entrepreneurs, Dane with EcoCart. Thanks so much for joining us.

Dane:

Thanks, Nate, happy to be here. Excited about this.

Nathan Resnick:

So before we dive in, I really want to learn more about you and your background and just start there.

Dane:

Sure, absolutely. So as far as my background, I’ve kind of always had the entrepreneurial bug. So the last business that I was involved with and started, it was an online peer-to-peer rental marketplace business. So think like Airbnb, but instead of renting someone’s home, you rent their surfboard, snowboard, drone, bike, et cetera. We built the business, honestly, to be sustainable from the beginning because we thought that renting in stark contrast to consumption was a far greater benefit for the environment, especially as it relates to high plastic items, kayaks, surfboards, et cetera.

Dane:

And so after a while, it just became incredibly complicated and expensive to be a sustainable brand, and so realized there was this massive gap in the market. And so once we were done with that business, we kind of transitioned to EcoCart based on that idea. So our mission at EcoCart here is to make the fight against climate change easy, affordable, and accessible, so everyone can do their part.

Nathan Resnick:

That’s awesome. I love it. Yes, it sounds like you’ve been very environmentally-minded throughout your entrepreneurial journey. And so tell us more about EcoCart. What do you guys do exactly? I mean, what brands or what products are a good fit for you to work with?

Dane:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So EcoCart today, like I said, our mission a little bit ago, how that looks today it’s simply we wanted to highlight the convenience of it all. And so what EcoCart is today is a Shopify app. It’s a plugin that integrates right into your store that plugs in a little calculated checkbox at your customer’s checkout flow that enables them to opt-in to a certain calculated dollar amount to make their order carbon neutral.

Dane:

And what we do with that and what that means and how it works, a little quick one minute overview, is that we look at a few different factors of the specific order itself, like the order weight, the shipping distance to and from, the product type. It runs through our algorithm and spits out a dollar amount for the customer to opt-in to. Generally speaking, it’s under a dollar for the customer to opt-in to make their order carbon neutral. And what we do with that is we take that and we direct it towards certified carbon offset projects like planting trees, building wind farms, et cetera.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it. That makes a lot of sense. So if someone wants to implement EcoCart, they just go to the Shopify app store, find it, and then install it. Had you guys seen an increase in conversion rate for merchants that have installed and have EcoCart on their storefront? What does that look, and how do you kind of track that?

Dane:

Absolutely. I’m actually really glad you asked that. Yeah, so basically we built this initially as kind of a thought experiment of how this would affect certain metrics of the brand, just what exactly, what would the output be and how that would affect different metrics of the actual store’s operations?

Dane:

So one of the things we were really focused on was cart conversion. Because we hypothesized that brand loyalty, brand equity, would be boosted by showing your customers that you care about the environment just as much as they do. Turns out the numbers show and they confirm our hypothesis, this actually does. What we’ve seen, before we even launched the business, we actually ran beta testing. We saw that the cart conversion rates were actually improved by close to 200 basis points, actually, from our relatively small sample size. And even today, with over 35 live customers today, we even see that and those numbers continuing to improve.

Dane:

So we see massive cart conversion improvement, and really the way that we think about that is it’s kind of a subtle nudge in the right direction at the exact right time for the customers. They don’t have to kind of look around other sites to compare on prices, they’re right there. They know the values of them and the brand are aligned.

Nathan Resnick:

Right. How many people in general just shopping online do you think are willing to spend more to offset their carbon impact on the environment using a tool like EcoCart? Do you think 50% of the people shopping at a store would spend a dollar more to offset their environmental impact? I mean, what kind of data, what kind of thoughts do you have around that?

Dane:

Yeah, absolutely. And so one of the biggest data points, the way that we got comfortable with starting this business initially, was actually the one that’s like close to 80-ish, in the 80s, percent of all consumers are willing to actually pay a little bit more for brands that help them shop and live sustainably.

Dane:

And so that was a really interesting and validating point for us, and we’ve actually even seen those numbers be validated even further, considering the fact that somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 40% of all of our customers’ orders get carbon neutral at checkout, and so that is a massive point of validation for us as well.

Nathan Resnick:

That’s awesome. That’s really cool. So I mean, I guess people say about 80% of shoppers would spend more to offset their carbon footprint. And then your store data from your merchants shows about 30 or 40%. that’s a pretty big chunk of people that are willing to spend more to offset their carbon footprint.

Nathan Resnick:

I want to talk about the impact of e-commerce on the environment. I mean, I think a lot of times the impact of our industry is overseen because everyone thinks they’re shopping online, so they’re doing good for the environment because they aren’t driving to a mall or a retail store. But at the end of the day, e-commerce fuels so much more packages that are going out, so many more USPS delivery trucks or UPS or FedEx delivery trucks going to individual homes. I mean, do you have any data or insight in regards to just how this massive increase, especially this year, in e-commerce shopping has kind of impacted the environment? I mean, is there research around that?

Dane:

Yeah, absolutely, there’s a lot out there. It’s actually changing every day, of course. And so one of the most compelling data points that we found that kind of sticks with me, at least in my mind, is that every day in the US alone e-commerce packages travel about the same distance as going to the moon and back over 133,000 times.

Dane:

And so if you put that into perspective, that’s such a massive impact to the environment, especially as it relates to third-party logistics. I mean, just alone, as consumers demand more and more in terms of their actual shorter and shorter delivery times and windows, the actual strain to the environment increases. And so that’s not really going to go anywhere. And so the only way to actually to take care of that is through either revamping your entire supply chain, your delivery networks, or it’s buying carbon offsets to actually neutralize your brand’s impact.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it.

Dane:

And so that’s kind of how we help facilitate. But yeah, you’re right, it’s a massive, massive issue.

Nathan Resnick:

So what does buying a carbon offset actually mean? I mean, you partner with these nonprofits or these organizations that make that happen? What do those organizations actually do?

Dane:

Yeah, yeah. So there’s actually a really robust carbon offset market. Most of it is tailored towards larger businesses that their main business line is carbon emissions. So if we’re talking about like big oil companies, for example, so those companies are actually mandated to buy carbon offsets.

Dane:

There’s also the voluntary market, which is where we play. And so many consumers themselves can actually buy carbon offsets, and so both consumers and also smaller businesses that aren’t actually mandated to. And so that’s kind of how we play in that space, in voluntary offset space. But basically, it’s a really kind of esoteric market, and it’s hard to understand it.

Dane:

So what we do is we really simplify that entire process by making it just incredibly convenient and easy at the point of checkout for the customer to offset their own carbon footprint. And we even offer the ability, since we do realize how tough it is to be sustainable, we offer the option for the brand to pay for all the offsets on behalf of their customers as well. And so that’s a really interesting thing that we’re seeing a lot of customers of ours, so brands actually opt-in to more and more is just offsetting their entire carbon footprint on behalf of their customers, and they can kind of message that they’re a carbon neutral brand. That’s incredible brand equity right there. Everyone loves a sustainable brand and it’s incredibly important for the environment.

Nathan Resnick:

Right. Just from your personal opinion, do you think it should be the responsibility of the consumer or the corporation to pay for the carbon offset?

Dane:

Wow, that’s a great question. I think of it as a little bit of both. So whether that’s the company actually reducing their emissions from the beginning as it relates to their actual supply chain and logistics, et cetera, or it’s the customer in paying just a few extra cents, whether that’s them opting-in to it at checkout or it’s the brand kind of baking a few extra cents into their actual product prices so that they are sustainable, I think it’s kind of a balance between the two. And so, yeah, that’s kind of how we try to strike that balance, having that option for both sides.

Nathan Resnick:

Right, got it. So let’s kind of see some examples of how much this would cost ballpark. Let’s say I’m shopping on Allbirds and they’re using EcoCart, how much extra would it cost me in my purchase of a pair of Allbirds to offset my transaction?

Dane:

Yeah, yeah. So it depends on, like I said, it’s unique for each individual order, and so we look at a few different factors, the order weight, the shipping distance to and from, the product type itself. And so, a pair of shoes is going to be a far different carbon footprint than a water bottle, for example, especially as it relates to not only the weight itself, but also just how that item is actually manufactured from the very beginning.

Dane:

And so each order is going to be different, but just ballpark, if we’re shipping from, let’s just say… I was actually doing this for a customer yesterday, this estimation from Austin, Texas to here in San Francisco, which is where the company is based. We’re talking about like an eight pound package, so roughly a pair of shoes-ish. That would be somewhere in the neighborhood… And again, it depends on the actual project that’s being funded as well because each project has a different carbon offset cost.

Dane:

Again, it’s a little bit complicated, but the bottom line is the net net for the consumer, it’s going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 60 cents all in to offset their pair of shoes if it’s eight pounds going from Austin to San Francisco.

Nathan Resnick:

Nice. Well, on average, for an e-commerce it’s around a dollar or less or so it sounds like?

Dane:

Generally less than a dollar, yeah absolutely.

Nathan Resnick:

Yeah, and then you mentioned you fund projects, is that like you’re funding carbon offset projects, or what does that mean?

Dane:

That’s exactly right. So the carbon offset projects that we fund, they’re all certified by the major carbon standards. And so at their core, they’re all incredibly vetted and very rigorously vetted, and so that’s kind of at their basis. And then after that, we go in and we personally hand-select each individual project that we direct funds towards based on a few criteria, projects that are marketable for both our customers and the end customers, I mean, projects that have a high element of transparency, so the customers can see the pictures, stories, benefits, et cetera.

Nathan Resnick:

Right.

Dane:

And then also projects that actually… We’re very proud of the fact that all of our projects have a strong element of social good in them as well, whether that’s protecting an endangered species of animal, because we’re protecting their habitat, or that’s creating local jobs in a developing nation, et cetera.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it. That’s awesome. That’s super cool. I guess one kind of last question here that I had top of mind, in terms of the way that brands have approached sustainability with materials and just sourcing in general, do you think they should actually approach that with a more environmental mindset from the get-go instead of having to offset all this carbon that they’re emitting? I mean, it seems kind of like reverse nature to go in and have to offset what you’ve destroyed almost.

Dane:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So yeah, back to kind of the old kindergarten teacher saying, it’s reduce, reuse, and then recycle, right?

Nathan Resnick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dane:

So of course you want to… The first layer of kind of where you want to focus is reducing your own carbon footprint, and then next is kind of reusing and recycling, which would then be kind of the carbon offset equivalent. And so, yes, if you’re a brand that can absolutely start from the beginning with building sustainability into your supply chain, absolutely 100%, everyone should be doing that.

Dane:

The tough part is companies and brands who have been around for a while who have these systems in place and this supply chain and logistics that are in place, and so that’s where carbon offsets actually become a huge benefit is companies who don’t want to spend millions of dollars to revamp all that, hire consultants, et cetera. Carbon offsets are a really fantastic solution for that.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it. That’s awesome. I appreciate you coming on here and chatting with us about EcoCart. If people want to reach out to you or learn more, how can they find you?

Dane:

Yeah, absolutely. So our app is on the Shopify app store. All you got to do is type in EcoCart, E-C-O-C-A-R-T. It’s probably the easiest way to find our app. Otherwise, ecocart.io is our website, and I’m just Dane@ecocart.io if you ever want to chat.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us.

Dane:

Appreciate it.

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