How to Navigate a Profitable eCommerce Business with a Social Mission

  • 27th Jan'21
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Any cause that benefits society, the economy, and/or the environment in various ways come under the social mission. A business brings many changes into society, and when you connect it with a social mission, you build an emotional connection between the enterprise and employees, investors, and customers.

While buying a product from your business, customers will feel they are contributing to the good cause for which you are standing. Employees know their work is contributing to certain causes. And investors will feel happier supporting and promoting your company.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have witnessed rapid growth in the Ecommerce business worldwide. This growth is leading to more and more e-commerce startups resulting in creating stiff competition in the e-commerce market.

In such stiff competition and numerous options for products and services, we get confused when it comes to choosing one product or service for a startup. Hence it is important to connect your business with a social mission.


Must-read: Prof.Tom Eisenmann (HBS) on Hidden Patterns of Startup Failure


7 things to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform

People are now looking for opportunities for ecommerce startups more than ever, and the reasons are quite obvious. The Covid-19 pandemic has made us realize the importance of ecommerce businesses, but before rushing for starting your business on an ecommerce platform, here are a few points you must consider.


E-commerce business with a social mission

Numerous businesses started with a social mission and despite selling a common product or service, they achieved greater heights due to the cause they are serving. Below mentioned are some e-commerce businesses which started with a social mission.


1. Harry’s

Harry’s is an American company founded in July 2012 by Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider. Started as an online retailer and subscription service, the company deals in men's luxury razors, shave creams, and other men's grooming products, and the customers receive new products by mail. 

Source: Inc. Magazine

Over the past decade, men are spending more on skin creams, hair products, and deodorants which resulted in an upswing in the male grooming industry. In fact, online shave clubs are the fastest-growing segment of the $3.3B U.S. men's grooming market, accounting for 10% of that share.

Don’t miss: Rise of Startup Economy - Rise of Entrepreneurship


Harry’s social mission

When Harry’s started there were many men grooming brands ruling the market. But Harry’s founders, Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider think there’s still room in the shaving market as the founders were not quite impressed by the quality of shaving products at the market. So, the products were redesigned and offered a higher-quality product at a lower price.

Also, the founders realised that just selling products at an honest price is not enough, and they want Harry’s to stand for something more than simply selling a lot of razors. That’s when Harry's began with a buy-one-donate-one business model. In this business model, a free razor blade (or the cost of one) is donated to charitable organizations.

The program called the "Give a Shave" started in 2013 by supporting The Mission Continues to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The "Give a Shave" program had changed slightly such that Harry's would donate 1% of their sales, and the employees would donate 1% of their time to charitable organizations.

Currently, the donation model remains the same which is 1% of sales, and now, employees receive five days of paid time off to volunteer with a registered non-profit organization. Recently, Harry's is focused on promoting better mental health care for men and suicide prevention.

Read the interview with the founders of Harry’s to know the journey of the company in detail.


2. Warby Parker

Warby Parker is an American online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. The company introduces the "Home-Try-On program" in which the customers can select any five frames of their choice from the website, which they receive and try on at home within a 5-day period, free of charge.


Source: Warby Parker

Warby Parker co-founded by Jeff Raider uses a social entrepreneurship model, “buy one, give one”. The company pays for the production of a pair of eyeglasses for the non-profit organisation VisionSpring for each pair of glasses purchased. As per the company’s report, it had distributed one million pairs of eyeglasses to people in need till June 2014. 

Get to know more about Warby Parker.

Incorporating a Social Mission into Your Company

There are various reasons behind a business startup: some people want to improve the quality of their life. Others see an opportunity in the market they can not resist. 

But, some people want to make an impact and bring social change. That is when a business with a social mission is created. These businesses come up with exceptional ideas for the betterment of others.

Get to know the benefits of a social mission and how to implement it in your organisation.


We, at OpenGrowth, are continually looking for trending startups in the ecosystem. If you want to know any further information about the startup ecosystem or have any mind-boggling ideas, do refer our other blogs.


*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

About the author:

Jyotshana Rani, OpenGrowth Content Team

Jyotsana is very keen to express her views on new topics and wants readers to remember her through her writing. She is passionate about reading and believes that words wield the power of changing the scenario and she uses them to encourage people to the best of her knowledge.

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