Can you click your way to more mindful shopping?
Two mothers, Kara Oppenheimer and Carrie Forten, created goodbuy, an online marketplace for mindful shopping that purports to contain more than 19 million products from 183,000 small businesses. But it’s not your next Amazon. Instead, goodbuy is an extension for Chrome that’s on a mission to make shopping “feel good” by facilitating informed online shopping for consumers looking to shop their values and support small businesses, which can be hard to find in the clutter of the internet.
After downloading the browser extension with Chrome, users can create a profile where they choose from a long list of options: AAPI Owned, American Made, Black Owned, Certified Ethical, Cruelty Free, Family Owned, Indigenous Owned, Latin/o/x- Owned, LGBTQIA+ Owned, Local, Disabled Owner(s), Sustainable, Vegan, Veteran Owned, and Women Owned. Now, when they shop online, they’ll see results matching those choices.
Cara and Cary break down in detail about Goodbuy and how they hope this simple tool will make an impact for thousands of small businesses.
How will you deal with the green washing that continues? For example, what are the criteria for ‘sustainable’ and ‘vegetarian’?
This is an excellent question and one that we have taken very seriously from the moment we started building the checked database. In order to avoid the green washing and to ensure that we provide consumers with goods that we can be sure match their values, we rely on third party certifications that are highly respected for these values. For example, in order for a store to appear as “vegan” in our database, the entire store (not just a group of products) must be certified vegan or PETA certified. Likewise, for a business to be classified as sustainable, it must be certified by a reputable, respected sustainability organization, such as 1% for Planet, Certified Carbon Neutral or the Rainforest Alliance certified, among many others.
How can you make money as a platform?
It was very important for us to create a mutually beneficial business, as the profits of the brand were linked to the profits of the small businesses on our platform. As such, we make money with affiliate commissions, but unlike traditional affiliates, we don’t charge setup or monthly fees. In short: we don’t make money from our brands until our brands make money from us.
How did you finance this project?
We support venture capital, which has allowed us to focus deeply on user experience – ensuring we’re constantly iterating and collecting feedback. It is also, for us, that it has been so important to show our children and our society that women, and mothers in particular, are this illustrious, underrepresented part of our society. Women received just 2% of venture funding in 2021, and all-female founding teams receive even less. But as the pandemic has shown, women are the backbone of our society and deserve visibility and funding.
Does this work on sites like Amazon?
Yeah. When someone downloads the browser extension, our shopping tool will pop up to offer small business alternatives on hundreds of sites. This includes Mega Big retailers (these famous billionaires) as well as lots of fast fashion, big beauty and big home stores. The benefit to consumers is twofold. The first obvious advantage is that they can choose to support stores that align with their values — local stores, family-owned stores, black-owned stores, and stores with American-made products. The second really amazing feature is to discover amazing, beautiful, interesting and truly unique products that are different from the ones that everyone else has. It’s a way for consumers to explore their own aesthetics while ensuring that the coffee table, sneakers, lipstick, beard oil, and kids’ lunch box are their own, and not the same thing everyone else from Target already has.
How would you like to revise this as it grows? Any deficiencies you would like to address?
We are excited to continue delivering better and more personalized search results to our users. The more people interact with our gadget, telling us what they do and don’t like, the smarter we can be at serving them what they want. At first, we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough products to offer to consumers. Now, with over 19 million products in our database, we’re clear that our biggest benefit is offering an eclectic range of products – like what users are looking for and unique, funky and cool alternatives from smaller brands. I’ve never heard of him before.
We also acknowledge that a lot of the stores in our database are doing amazing things at the product level and even at the store level, they didn’t have the bandwidth or money to apply for third-party certifications aimed at more than medium to large businesses. It’s a process that we hope will democratize and make small business friendlier in the not too distant future.