Conscious Consumption – Andable and the Future of Retail

When What’s Mine Is Yours – the groundbreaking book on collaborative consumption launched, it was at the crest of a newly emerging movement. Combining an awareness of our under-used or under-appreciated assets with online networks for managing reputation, collaborative consumption not only disrupts business models but creates new markets.

The poster child for the movement – AirBnB – showcased how the tourism/hospitality industry could be inverted – allowing travellers to stay in private accommodation and for individuals to create an income stream from by renting out their spare rooms.

Collaborative consumption, trust and human connectivity

One of the most interesting aspects of the collaborative consumption movement is that it impacts behaviour on both the buyer and vendor side of the equation – the thin veneer between public and private that we experience due to social networks becomes membrane-thin when you invite someone into your home. But the same holds true for the visitor. Think about it …

  • Can you trust the visitor?
  • Can you trust the owner?

Fundamentally, there is an intention to trust – or a willingness. And there is also a conscious decision to act. As Rohit Bhargava says, “in a world where we don’t trust institutions around us, the only real metric for trust is human connections”.

So what happens when you put a focus on this conscious decision – to purchase with a clear intention, but to do so with purpose?

Andable – retail with a social purpose

Sydney-based startup, Andable, are tapping this conscious consumption model with a globally unique online marketplace. Over the last few months, the Andable team have been working out of the Vibewire Innovation Lab in Sydney’s Ultimo, so I have had a number of opportunities to hear their story, understand their approach and see the site develop.

Andable_Founders Featuring a wide variety of products across over 80 categories from independent retailers and individuals, Andable is allowing consumers to securely purchase while also supporting an overseas entrepreneur through micro-loan marketplace, Kiva. With each purchase 10% of the price is invested into a Kiva micro-loan.

So not only are consumers able to purchase directly from independent retailers (who often cannot afford the time or money, or do not have the confidence to create online shopfronts), they can do so in the knowledge that 10% of the purchase is performing a social good in another part of the world.

The nice thing is – is that Andable guarantee the repayment of the 10% in three months – so the vendors are not out of pocket. It’s just a slight deferral. And there is minimal risk on Andable’s side, after all, Kiva experiences a current  98.99% repayment rate for loans with all partners.

When business gets personal, consumption becomes conscious

The idea behind Andable is simple and was inspired by personal experience. The founders, Rupal Ismin and Melissa Dean, with backgrounds in media and advertising had a sense that online shoppers were wanting something more from their retail experience.

The 10% mission was inspired by Rupal’s grandfather, who, despite growing up as an impoverished boy in India, always donated 10% of his income to charity. By putting this mission at the heart of the business model – consumers are offered a conscious choice in the purchasing process.

And as the walls between our public and private identities continue to collapse, and as we continue to choose about where to invest our time, our consumption and our attention, a marketplace that offers a social and feel-good experience delivers a new dimension to our retail experiences. After all, we all want to do something good in the world – now perhaps we can have our cake and share it too.

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