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Zwoice: Connecting Conscious Shoppers With Sustainable Sellers

Zwoice stands for zero waste choice. It is Europe’s first online marketplace that connects sustainable businesses with mindful consumers. Zwoice was founded by a young French-Slovak family, who believes that the choices we make today shape our collective future. Here’s our interview with Nika Antalova.
by: Silicon Luxembourg
photo: Zwoice
featured: Nika Antalova and Philippe Prunneaux

Listen to article (Part I)

Tell us about your startup.

Zwoice aims to bring a waste-free online shopping experience to everyone. For this, we’ve created a sustainable alternative to traditional online marketplaces. Zwoice is made up of an engaged community of sustainable sellers and buyers driven by a shared vision to eliminate any negative impact on the environment.

No pollution, no pesticides, no unfair labour, no wasteful packaging and ultimately, no harm to people and the environment. Our online portal prides itself in being completely powered by renewable energy, featuring exclusively natural, organic and made to last ethically manufactured products, and using minimal, fully compostable packaging.

How did you come up with the idea?

We have always considered ourselves to be environmentally conscious minimalists, purchasing only what we need and owning at least four recycling bins to thoroughly split our waste. Our turning point came when we became parents and our desire to give our little one the best drove us to start thinking about the impact of our everyday decisions on his future. This led us to getting rid of our recycling bins and embarking on this zero waste journey as a family. We loved the changes we adopted and the impact we were making and could not stop imagining how much more could be done if we joined forces with like-minded individuals. That is how the idea of a collaborative marketplace with a thoroughly thought through zero waste product offering was born.

“The platform can serve as a primary or secondary storefront for online sales, making it an ideal place to introduce products to new buyers.”

What are your products/services?

Anyone is welcome to open their own zero waste online shop on Zwoice. It is free and only takes a few minutes. Sellers simply customise their shop through images, set their own policies, list their sustainable products and the people who created them, and finally commit to shipping them directly to the customer using plastic free packing materials.

Zwoice only takes an industry competitive commission once the item has sold, which enables us to operate and take care of the technical, marketing and communication aspects of the online marketplace in an eco-friendly manner, as well as set aside time to pick a kilogram of street waste for every package shipped.

This allows environmentally conscious customers to browse through and discover a rich selection of truly zero waste toys, apparel, beauty products and home accessories around the clock. Just like in a regular e-shop, they may add their favourites onto a wish list or directly into a shopping basket, collect reward points for their green choices and wait for the items to be delivered at their doorstep, knowing that with each and every purchase on Zwoice they are helping to make our planet a little less polluted.

What is your business model?

Our initial business model focused on building a strong customer base, allowing sellers to set up their shops, and listing products free of charge. We started by collecting transactional revenues in the form of a commission on each sale. In the second phase however, we will be looking at a flat and recurring revenue option by offering additional services and packages, such as listings uploads, advertising deals or shop management automation features.

“The platform is meant to be a place for online shoppers to make eco-friendly consumer choices, support local businesses, and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Listen to article (Part II)

Who are your clients?

We have two types of customers: our sellers and our buyers. The platform can serve as a primary or secondary storefront for online sales, making it an ideal place to introduce products to new buyers.

It is also meant to be a place for online shoppers to make eco-friendly consumer choices, support local businesses, and reduce their carbon footprint.

What’s next?

The immediate next step is to get ready for the upcoming gifting period by launching our own gift cards. Stay tuned! We will also be working on helping our customers further reduce their carbon footprint by creating a map view of our sellers’ locations, which will allow them to purchase as locally as possible and reduce transport related emissions to a minimum. Last, but not least, we will also be enhancing our exposure through establishing affiliate relationships with relevant content creators.

“There are plenty of green gestures a digital company and its employees can make to become greener.”

How can digital companies be more sustainable?

Every day, each and every one of us makes a lot of small decisions that inevitably have an impact on the sustainability of our planet: take the elevator or the stairs, watch a movie or read a book, drive the car or ride the bike, choose a plastic, paper or no bag at all, eat bananas or a local apple, meat or vegetables…etc.

Even though it is hard to be perfect, and the details will depend on the nature of the business, there are plenty of green gestures a digital company and its employees can make to become greener. Here is an overview of a few of them:

  • Use energy powered by renewable resources, both to run the physical premises and the data centres hosting the online venue
  • Carefully choose your product offering or service and base it on green principles
  • Work only with like-minded eco-conscious partners and service providers
  • Print just the right amount of flyers and preferably market through green channels as much as possible
  • Consider using business cards that come on a paper containing seeds for planting them when no longer needed
  • Make sustainability part of your company’s culture and values and pass it onto your employees by encouraging green behaviour. For example:
    • Make sure your employees have plenty of spots to park their bike in the office premises
    • Choose an office building without an elevator
    • Install a coffee machine that does not use capsules
    • Provide reusable glassware for food and drinks
    • Favour conference calls vs. in person meetings requiring travelling by car or plane
    • Encourage digital documents storage, printing double-sided and using the blank side of a used sheet of paper
    • Explain to your employees the impact they make by regularly e-cleaning their mailbox, shutting down their computer at the end of the day or simply saving their most browsed websites into their favourites

For more detailed tips, I recently wrote an article (see the article 20 ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint) about different ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint, initially meant for individuals, but also widely applicable to companies.

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