Despite the growth in small and sustainable businesses, the competition with huge corporations is still on. Small businesses have to fight these huge companies for market share and it’s close to impossible when their products and marketing efforts are simply drowned out by the huge budget ads plastered over the consumer’s screens.
Steven Clift recognized the problem and decided to do something to help these small sustainable/good businesses by growing their profits and growing the economy as a whole. That’s when GoodCarts was created! GoodCarts is a software within Shopify that can be used for free by small business owners. The way it works is that when customers purchase a good brand, another good brand within the same “GoodCarts” circle is then promoted on the after-purchase page with a discount offered to push the customer to make a purchase again.
This week, we got the chance to interview the founder of GoodCarts, Steven Clift, who not only started a company to help small businesses but was also elected as White House Champion of Change by President Obama! Read on to find out how his journey with starting a successful software within Shopify and acquiring the honorable title from the President.
1. Tell us about your journey and how GoodCarts came to life!
GoodCarts started several years ago when founder and entrepreneur Chris Dykstra had an idea to create a platform where sustainable/shop-for-good entrepreneurs could promote each other and grow their profits and the impact economy as a whole. From there, GoodCarts came to life.
After the Alpha launch, I was recruited to lead a “quiet beta” through to our big public launch with our Shopify app in late 2020. Our “grow together, win together” story is now a reality and is really taking off.
I have more than 25 years of experience in digital civic innovation with business, government, foundations and nonprofits. I was an Ashoka Fellow and was honored by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change for Open Government in 2013. I even launched the world’s first election information website – E-Democracy.org – in 1994.
My transition into “tech for good” as CEO of GoodCarts feels like the ideal intersection of my experience and my lifelong mission to use tech innovation to make a positive difference in the world.
2. How does GoodCarts work?
GoodCarts is a radical new way for ecommerce stores to grow their sales, find their
good and expand their impact with ZERO customer acquisition costs. That’s right, it’s FREE for brands.
We are powered by our member brands using post-purchase cross-promotion. Here’s how it works:
- A consumer makes an online purchase at a GoodCarts member store.
- After checkout, they see a custom thank you message offering them the opportunity to choose an exclusive discount within the same GoodCarts circle (sustainable/shop-for-good, Made in the USA, Black-owned businesses, etc.)
Consumers earn discounts and discover new brands. Our post-purchase “recycled traffic” model has grown into an active community of like-minded eCommerce entrepreneurs.
Brands can get started with our Shopify app in just a few minutes, our WooCommerce plugin is easy to install and we serve most other eCommerce platforms as well. Stores choose the circle that best describes their business then create their eye-catching exclusive discount offer to convert new first-time visitors into paying customers.
We even have a blocklist feature that means members can avoid promoting their direct competitors.
Participating stores have been very pleased with the success they’re seeing. Discounts have a redemption rate of over 10 percent and we have a 95 percent retention rate among stores in our largest circle – shop-for-good.
3. You were recognized as a White House Champion of Change by President Obama! Please tell us how this happened?
Very literally one email at a time!
In 1994, I led a group of volunteers who created the world’s first election information website. More importantly, we hosted civil online dialogue before and after an election on state politics. We took the “online town hall” model started locally in Minnesota and Massachusetts and brought it to the UK, New Zealand and nearly everywhere worldwide.
We showed how tech could be used for good in a community – using real names a decade before Facebook launched and showing the non-profit way to do inclusive door-to-door outreach in areas even with high immigrant populations and lower-income neighborhoods. This model is still considered a gold standard for digital inclusion.
The White House Champion of Change program recognized a handful of Americans across various themes. I was recognized for my citizen participation and open government work.
In addition to my grassroots activity, I also spoke about the positive aspects of digital democracy across 35 countries before everything changed for the worse in 2016, with billions of dollars going into intentional digital disinformation.
4. What do you hope to achieve with GoodCarts?
GoodCarts is on a mission to help 10,000 or more e-commerce entrepreneurs find their good and use commerce to create change. Consumers are increasingly putting their money where their values are. We are working to unite e-commerce brands that combine purpose with profit.
5. What has been your proudest achievement?
Talking to our brand founders and knowing we’re supporting your stories and impact. Yes, we celebrated when we reached the milestone of 100 members, but now I can’t wait for us to reach 1,000 and beyond!
The GoodCarts model is based on continuous momentum. We like to celebrate small wins everyday and each time a new brand joins us. We even do a little happy dance when we publish another free e-commerce article with actionable intelligence that’s helpful for entrepreneurs – whether or not they’re GoodCarts members!
6. Any big plans for GoodCarts in 2022?
GoodCarts is working on expanding our impact through new circles of good. From our original (and largest) Sustainable/Shop-for-Good circle to our Black-owned business circle and even circles specific to brands made in each state, we want to provide ecommerce entrepreneurs the opportunity to reach new customers shopping their values and to share post-purchase traffic within their communities.
In the past several months, we’ve been proud to partner with non-profit organizations such as Operation HOPE and their 1 Million Black Businesses initiative as part of our Black-owned businesses circle and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for our Made in Minnesota circle. We’ll be increasing these partnerships to expand the GoodCarts impact.
In 2022, we’re also unveiling our first new paid bonus feature for interested members – a Featured Coupon option. GoodCarts remains free to use and generates visibility and real sales at no cost, but our members see real value in the GoodCarts model and have been asking for enhanced features. We’ll continue to build in opportunities for bonus traffic and additional features on top of our core free service.
We admire people like Steven Clift for helping small sustainable businesses grow brand awareness at no cost! Your target market can easily discover more sustainable businesses with your company included. The Good Tee is also part of GoodCarts and we’re glad to have the extra help we need as a small business. With the help of these tools, we’re hoping to eventually provide more businesses and consumers with sustainable options when it comes to basic clothing.
To find out more about GoodCarts, check out their social links down below!