In addition to my being an e-commerce strategist, grad student and writer for this blog, I also am editor and co-author of a vegan food blog called “The Food Duo.” My partner and I share stories, photos, news all about living a vegan lifestyle, and of course, vegan food.
Recently, I baked a vegan version of Anginetti (Lemon Drop Cookies) for a (non-vegan) event for which I’m the “Cookies & Coffee” volunteer co-chair. Happy to say that they were enjoyed without having to say they’re vegan!
Check out the recipe, try it for yourself and let me know how you like it.
The Food Duo: Vegan Anginetti (Lemon Drop Cookies)
Shopatron provides e-commerce solutions for both manufacturers and retailers, seeking full integration, especially for Omnichannel.
As we look at e-commerce, what can retailers due to promote their content! Yes, folks, e-commerce needs to integrate content marketing strategies to be viable. This includes blogs, social media, networking, promotions, etc. that should be tailored to your specific audience, existing and potential. Your business is more than about making sales, which we all want. It needs to be relevant to connect and engage with customers in as many of the RIGHT channels you can use.
So check out Shopatron’s “3 Tips on Promoting eCommerce Content" and let me know if you agree
Trust Where There Are No Standards
My current topic is looking at vegan labeling of apparel on mainstream e-commerce sites. True, it’s absent. It’s also misunderstood. While speaking with my supervisor last night, he challenged me with the question “If the vegan sites don’t even have a standard certification of their products, how can anyone expect other sites to recognize the need to label items as ‘vegan?’” Totally valid point. Now I have a lot of thinking to do.
There is currently no federal regulation of vegan products. It needs to be defined, accepted and monitored. Both the Food & Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission only seek that any labeling of the term be “trusting and not misleading.” There is no standard regulation on ingredients or material, including sourcing, for an item to be deemed as “vegan.”
There are non-profits that have their own certification process for vegan goods, such as Vegan Action’s “Vegan.org” certification, the UK’s The Vegan Society and PETA’s approved logo. Certainly having these certification can bring about trust in the vegan community, However, if we vegans seek great inclusion in the mainstream, retailers are going to want to see more. They’re going to want a set standard that’s federally recognized in the States. Why? Think about all of the issues that could arise from legal, economic and social points of view the moment a customer feels they’ve been deceived in some way or a product noted as vegan actually is not.
While I’m looking at consumer trust in my thesis, I need to take a step back in re-address the problem with what I’m seeking to prove and how it will be measurable. How can I trust a non-vegan retailer to sell me vegan goods if there are no standards? And am I placing too much in vegan retailers who are?
I came upon this article from Elle.com while reading through my Twitter feed this morning. While it’s a personal piece and applaud it being shared, Victoria Dawson Hoff definitely brings forth a lot of questions. At the core, “what exactly does it mean to be a vegan?”
For me, being vegan is more than food. It’s a philosophy, a lifestyle. With the exception of 2 items purchased well before I went vegan, my wardrobe is animal-free. Why do I still have those 2 items? Well, at the time I got them, they had meaning. For instance, I worked hard to save for a particular pair of boots over 10 years ago. They were all I wanted and when I finally bought them I was so in love that they were mostly on display. Seriously, I wore them 2x in my life.
The other item was a pair of white ballet flats with pretty colorful birds on them. I had a crazy fear of birds for years (that’s a whole other blog-worthy story! The shoes actually helped me get over it (weird, I know). I was so taken by the design that I bought them up, especially being on sale. I’ve only wore them once and put them back in their lovely box.
Am I not a vegan for still keeping them, yet not wearing them? It makes me wonder. How does this translate to how vegans shop? Certainly, vegan apparel can be quite pricey; sometimes more than mainstream/general apparel. Is it okay to sacrifice veganism for style, convenience, comfort…and even price? Are you still vegan if you do?
Something new to consider for my project!
While my full time gig is being an E-Commerce Strategist, I’m also a part-time graduate student at New York University. I’m working towards a Master’s degree in Management & Systems (think business with technology). To complete my degree, I have to conduct a research study. So, I’m mixing my passion with my career and undertaking a study on vegan labeling of apparel on e-commerce sites.
Over the coming months, I’ll share with you my progress. Yes, it may include some venting! You’ve been warned. Posting will help me stay motivated and keep you informed.
Why this topic? Why not? I’m vegan and work in e-commerce. There’s more to that, of course. The “vegan” label is often just attributed to food. The term itself is often misunderstood. Now, think about it in the context of non-food items. Confusion can be even greater when not aware of material sourcing for both the consumer and the merchant. So how much trust will a vegan consumer put into a merchant who doesn’t specifically cater to vegans? We can’t shop niche all of the time, can we?
As a vegan, I don’t want to be excluded or separate myself. Just as I’d like to see vegan options at a burger joint, I’d like the same when I buy a sweater or snow boots (and don’t want to spend more than I need). I also want to trust the store that they won’t sell me a wool sweater (I’m allergic btw) and tell me it’s cotton or acrylic. And frankly, as much as I read labels, it can get tedious.
There are some learning that can come from this study;
1. Small changes can open merchants to new target audiences (and increase sales)
2. Building relationships with consumers from marginal groups can grow trust
3. Merchants can make a social change with great rewards
Now, I’m waiting to hear back on my supervisor’s approval to begin prepping for board review.