Coming Home To Roozt

26 04 2012

After 15 years of teaching e-commerce and developing websites, it takes a lot these days to get my attention. After all, nearly everything has been done before. Some good. Plenty of bad. And a lot in-between. Anything and everything that could possibly be sold has been programmed (literally) to fit into a 2-dimensional space.

But when I read about Roozt, I knew I was on to something different. Roozt is to social goods as Etsy is to crafts, essentially an online bazaar of all things and entrepreneurs seeking to do good things for the world.

For consumers with a conscience, often finding out a company, and then locating the products, are the hardest steps in making one’s dollars go where the needs are. Sure, you could hop in a car and drive to the nearest Big College Town, where you will likely find a shop or two selling fair trade products. But this is inefficient at best, and horribly time-consuming and expensive at worst.

But what I like most about Roozt is that it inexplicably ties social media into the equation. The more you post and share your purchases, the more you are rewarded with credits and badges. OK, the badges may be ephemeral, kind of like the ones I have earned on the Untappd app by drinking exotic microbrews, but they are bragging rights. With frequent and judicious social shopping, you could wind up king or queen of all that is good.

Roozt is a perfect fit for Generation Y, the oft-misunderstood (or simply not understood at all) cohort also known as the Millennials. Born between 1982 and 2000, Millennials have demonstrated a much higher social consciousness than other generations. It helps explain their fascinations with TOMS shoes and its BOGO program, as well as a host of other brands built around the idea of doing unto others (Project 7 comes to mind).

And I like it.

I will be the first to say that I do not always seek out such products. I will also go on record as stating that I am not always willing to possibly pay more for something just because I have been guilted into it. I would rather donate directly to a cause rather than by virtue of buying a product that, at least perceptually, costs more. But if someone wants to participate voluntarily in helping others via the product vehicle, then I will not stand in the way. I am more of a classical economist, preferring to let the market settle on its own prices, and charities operating separately.

But I may just be getting old. This marriage of commerce and charity is innovative, and speaks to the desires of an entire generation. For that I give Roozt high praise. By tying brands to specific causes, and aggregating an enormous selection, Roozt helps make it fashionable to be caring. It’s a new way of looking at an old problem, and if the greater good is served, then who am I to complain?

Score one point for getting this old guy’s attention.

Dr “The Tire Tread Sandals Do Look Pretty Cool” Gerlich



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