New online platform aims to harness the power of community to support ethical retail

A digital platform has launched that seeks to harness consumer power to build a more democratic economy

The team behind ‘socially-minded’ startup BuySmart want to build a community of likeminded consumers that will collectively push for a fairer economy.

Launched last week, the platform helps people identify brands that match their values, as well as informing members how they can make ethical shopping choices through actions such as supporting independent companies that are local to them.

By building an online community the London-based organisation hopes it can use collective action to positively influence the way companies behave, from pushing for greater corporate transparency over tax, to making supply chains more ethical.

BuySmart works alongside ethical business specialists including the Living Wage Foundation, B Corps, and Provenance to select retailers that have what founders describe as “an authentic set of values at the core of their business”. More than 70 independent UK brands are featured on the site so far.

BuySmart co-founder James Bryant believes there is a greater demand than ever for transparency from major corporations. “Individuals are increasingly looking for brands with authentic values, and there has been an increase in companies starting up to meet that demand,” he said.

“We believe that most people buy from major brands and chains simply because it’s easier. Our goal is to raise awareness of just how many innovative UK businesses there are, often on your doorstep, and introduce them to our members.”

BuySmart members are currently limited to searching for independent companies by location and sector, but as the community grows, Bryant hopes to develop an increasingly sophisticated platform that will allow for more tailored results. Users will be able to create a detailed profile of preferences and values that could then be matched up with specific brands, he hopes.

Bryant believes the platform has the potential to have a big impact on the UK economy in the long term.

“We can lead campaigns for local products in supermarkets, local coffee shops in service stations, and help build up UK brands so they can take on the big boys,” he said.

“If our members believe in our mission, and vote with their wallets, there’s no end to what we can achieve.”

BuySmart is dedicated to the memory of James’ late fiancee, Laura, who passed away late last year. “As co-founder, her memory will forever be entwined with our mission. I hope we can make her proud.”

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