Ethical consumerism remains a relatively long tail in the retail industry, and it makes sense that it’s a niche well-suited to e-commerce.
There’s not a lot of research on the status of ethical consumerism in South Africa, but the 2015 Ethical Markets Report 2015 by the UK’s Ethical Consumer reported an 8% rise in the UK, valued at £38-billion, despite a highly challenging fiscal year in that country.
South Africa’s largest and most well-established organic and natural products online store, Faithful to Nature, has reported an impressive 70% average growth over the past three years. The past festive season was a particular boost to sales, and Faithful to Nature showed 100% growth compared to the same period during the previous fiscal.
Founded almost a decade ago by entrepreneur and sustainability innovator, Robyn Smith, Faithful to Nature has not just stayed the course through South Africa’s challenging, pioneering e-commerce years but has grown significantly and established an enviable model of customer retention. Year-on-year 80% of Faithful to Nature’s customers consistently return.
A vital aspect of attracting and retaining consumers of organic and natural products is the availability of trustworthy information that they can use to make more conscious buying decisions. Faithful to Nature ensure transparent labelling of every one of the 11 000 products it features on its site, as well as providing the latest consumer education about product ingredients that ethical consumers want to understand.
Smith says: “We devote extensive resources to empowering our customers with information on how they can take back the power to live in toxic-free homes and to cause as little damage to the environment as possible with their buying choices. In addition to our strict ingredient listing policy, we provide pocket guides that list common contentious ingredients found in cleaning, cosmetic and food products and maintain an up to date, educational blog to assist South Africans with ethical product choices, no matter where they shop.”
Last year, Faithful to Nature’s attracted the attention of Silvertree Capital, which resulted in a R10-million investment that is enabling the imminent launch of a mobile-friendly site, as well as the development of wholesale and private label streams of the business.
Founding Partner of Silvertree, Paul Cook says: “”Faithful to Nature is one of our most exciting investments, as it sits at the intersection of the rapidly growing e-commerce industry and organic movement. With the help of fanatical customer service, Faithful to Nature shows no sign of slowing down its explosive growth.”