Ashoka Fellow Steve Clift has created a new social enterprise to link sustainable and social good companies at checkout. When customers check out from a member store, they see an offer to receive a coupon to another store with a social impact. After clicking, they’ll see a variety of coupons to choose from but can pick only one.
Today, this simple process connects a network of 25 social enterprises, but Clift hopes his GoodCarts service will one day include thousands of online stores that sell sustainable products or that donate profits to social causes.
“GoodCarts accelerates online growth for purpose-driven brands by connecting their businesses with customers from other online stores,” Clift says. “Our goal is to drive $1 billion in new sales revenue for our online retail members.”
The key to that growth will be introducing customers who demonstrate a desire to do good with their shopping to new stores with a social impact mission.
“Our model is uniquely powered by our member stores directing customers to each other after an online purchase,” Clift says. “Our members grow their sales while contributing to the growth of the impact economy.”
The concept is still new and it remains to be seen if the network effect will ultimately grow sales for participants or not. If the effect is to build a network that effectively keeps customers in a prosperity loop and away from big box retails and their online counterparts, it could grow revenue for the participating companies.
On the other hand, companies could be handing off their customers to direct competitors. To address that, members can blacklist direct competitors.
With that caveat, most retailers aren’t using their post transaction traffic. Once the transaction is complete their customers go where they please. By guiding customers into the network, participating companies should gain more from the network than their giving up, because they’re not giving up something they value in the first place—a bit of space on the final checkout screen.
“Every member that contributes traffic to the network gets back free exposure. Larger volume stores even qualify for revenue sharing. Our members only pay us when they gain a new paying customer,” Clift notes.
He was an early Ashoka Fellow, recognized for the use of technology in politics and community. He created the first election information website “way back in 1994.” That early career association has impacted his path as a social entrepreneur ever since.
“I’ve built my career around using tech for good. Being recognized by Ashoka and President Obama as a White House Champion of Change, gave important recognition to the evolution of local-up online civic participation which has spread like wildfire across platforms like Facebook Groups and NextDoor,” he says.
“My work founding with E-Democracy.org helped generate lessons that others have used to build digital democracy and civic technology innovations. After 25 years in non-profits, building a purpose-driven, for-profit is liberating. I am digital door knocking in a new way,” he concludes.