Growth Beyond Green: How Canopey is Scaling Sustainable Shopping with Hugo Douglas-Deane (episode 498)

Hugo Douglas-Deane is co-founder and CMO of sustainable marketplace Canopey – the home for buying better. Founded in 2021 they soft launched in May 2023 and officially launched September 2023. Currently, the biggest focus is building the communities of vendors and customers which is up to over 30,000. 

Hugo Douglas-Deane Canopey on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in: 

[05:29] Founder passionate about sustainability, integrating into platform. 
[07:08] Pushing for higher eco and ethical standards. 
[10:05] Choosing quality, sustainable products for lasting value. 
[13:50] Decision: challenging, successful, impactful, led to growth. 
[17:18] Sustainability-driven business moves toward B2B sales. 
[20:29] “Swaps feature encourages sustainable decisions, mental health.” 
[22:17] Listen to Hugo’s Top Tips! 

Importance of Sustainability and Consumer Trust 

Hugo emphasizes the importance of trust and transparency in the sustainability marketplace. Canopey sets itself apart by thoroughly vetting vendors and products, offering consumers clear and reliable information about the sustainability credentials of each item. This approach helps eliminate greenwashing and builds trust among discerning consumers. In the sustainability sector, establishing and maintaining trust through transparency is crucial. Businesses can stand out by not just claiming sustainability but by providing clear evidence and verification that consumers can rely on. 

Adopting Innovative Technologies 

Canopey strategically transitioned to a headless commerce approach using Shopify’s Hydrogen platform. This move allowed them to enhance the customer experience with a customizable front-end while leveraging Shopify’s robust eCommerce backend functionalities. Despite initial challenges and few case studies, this shift enabled better integration of their impact calculator and a more personalized shopping experience. When upgrading technology, it’s crucial to scope thoroughly and understand current and future needs. Newer technologies may offer flexibility and customization but require adequate technical resources and planning to manage potential challenges effectively. 

Meeting Diverse Customer Needs 

Canopey understands that sustainability-conscious consumers have different levels of knowledge and commitment. They serve both well-informed consumers seeking detailed sustainability metrics and those new to sustainable living who need guidance. By providing diverse educational resources, from impact calculators to product guides, Canopey supports consumers at all stages of their sustainability journey. Businesses should recognize this diversity and offer accessible information and resources to meet different knowledge and commitment levels. This approach broadens market reach and empowers consumers to make informed choices. 

Expanding into B2B Market Opportunities 

Canopey recently launched a B2B sales channel to extend their impact beyond individual consumers. This allows businesses to easily procure verified sustainable products, supporting their own sustainability goals and compliance requirements. By providing an impact report with each product, Canopey adds value and simplifies the integration of sustainable practices into business procurement processes. Exploring adjacent market opportunities can amplify both impact and revenue streams. Brands should assess how their offerings can meet broader market needs and compliance requirements, leveraging their existing expertise and infrastructure to enter new segments effectively. 

Continuous Innovation and Community Building 

Canopey goes beyond just selling products; they aim to build a community around sustainable living. Initiatives like gamification, reward systems, and educational content make sustainability fun and engaging, fostering long-term customer loyalty. By continually innovating and enhancing their platform, Canopey leads in sustainable commerce, driving positive environmental and social change.

eCommerce Book Top Tip 

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip 

  • Email marketing 

Tool Top Tip 

  • Midjourney generative AI program  

Carbon Top Tip 

  • Opt for renewable hosting and avoid using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Choose more sustainable hosting options because they can make a significant environmental impact. 

Interview links 

Related Episodes 

  • JGS How to create a fast-growth startup with Immaculate Vegan’s Simon Bell (episode 365)
  • A Shopify Managed Marketplace That’s Open for 12 Hours A Week Nick Jefferson and Ella Cooper (episode 427)
  • Balance the Physical and Digital: from Sustainable Fashion with Lucie Harrild from comhla (episode 449)

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shopify logo

Shopify recently turned the tables on me, and took me from interviewer to interviewee.

Knowing, as they do, that the most successful retailers today are those that bridge the gap between online and offline and make it a seamless experience, Shopify wanted my thoughts on how to achieve truly connected commerce, particularly in the key areas of local selling, omnichannel selling and cross border selling.

You can read my thoughts, along with other commerce experts from Germany, France, Spain and Italy by downloading the report.

Full transcript to read & download:

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