The startups helping smart retailers go green

You’re in the fruit and veg aisle at your local supermarket. Fresh produce is heaped about you in every glorious colour of the rainbow. It shines invitingly.

Or does it?

On closer inspection, that shine’s actually coming from acres of plastic packaging. And that produce is somehow… too perfect. Where are the misshapen apples? The ugly aubergines? The imperfect pears?

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario. As a culture, we’re becoming increasingly conscious of our need to live more sustainably and attempt to stave off an impending climate crisis. But are the businesses we shop with on the same page?

Why smart retailers are going green

The short answer is that the smart ones are. “Culture coders” are those brands that are starting to look beyond the point of purchase to deliver a genuinely engaging and impactful customer experience. That means getting to the heart of what customers really care about – and there are few things higher on the agenda than living green. Globally, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, with that number rising to 73% among millennials. 9 in 10 would switch brands for one associated with a cause.

With millennial purchasing power set to reach 1.4 trillion by 2020, it’s a crucial market to win over. To stay competitive, retailers need to save the world.

The startups driving sustainable shopping

While that might sound like a daunting task (and a little beyond most annual budgets), there’s a wellspring of innovations that are helping businesses do their bit.

Over 90% of the largest companies now file sustainability reports, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an ongoing priority for businesses across the board. But CSR programmes can be a challenge to action effectively, due either to lack of insight and clarity around what customers really want, or lack of resource and expertise to build them. That’s why so many high street brands are partnering with startup specialists.


CoGo describes itself as an app for conscious consumers. It allows users to select the issues they care most about (options include waste reduction, carbon footprint, organic and vegan products), and shows them local businesses that support the same goals.  By connecting to users’ payment cards, CoGo can send a signal to participating stores every time a user shops. It gives those stores real-time insights into what’s really motivating their shoppers, and ideas about the other causes they should consider supporting. For any business, choosing the initiatives that resonate best with their brand is imperative. For those not sure where to start, CoGo is a lifeline.

Koin Rewards

Blockchain-powered FinTech Koin Rewards gives back to consumers for shopping responsibly.  Once users register their payment card to their Koin Rewards account, they can automatically earn rewards whenever they shop with businesses within Koin Rewards’ sustainability-conscious community. Every transaction drives change for the greater good, not only supporting retailers committed to ethical standards, but increasing shoppers’ engagement with them.


Percent helps consumers donate to the good causes they care about without spending a penny. Users enrol, select their cause of choice, and trigger automatic micro-donations every time they use their payment card at a Percent retailer. It brings shoppers, retailers and good causes together in a win-win-win: good causes get the donations they need; shoppers can more affordably support the causes they care about, and businesses can deliver hyper-personalised loyalty offerings.

Ethical experiences made easy

Best of all, these innovators are making saving the planet not only achievable, but easy.

By using card-linking technology, they’re able to bake sustainability into consumers’ day-to-day spending habits. Rather than having to sign up to schemes, collect coupons or set up separate payments, users can simply shop as they usually would – the rest is taken care of. As any retailer knows, reducing friction at checkout is a must. Card linking does just that, so consumers can help change the world without having to change their behaviour. It increases footfall, improves engagement and drives real value back to the community.

In an age of increased scrutiny, businesses need to show they really care. That means thinking beyond the buying cycle to building a shared future with consumers.To find out more about how CoGo uses card linking to “connect good”, read the case study.