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Top 50 Q&A: Sandy Abram, Wholesome Hub

Welcome to our weekly Q&A with Internet Retailing’s 2019 Top 50 People in E-Commerce. You can find this year’s Top 50 report here, and see our previous Q&As here.

This week, Internet Retailing interviews Sandy Abram, founder and CEO of Wholesome Hub, who ranked 19th on our list this year.

Short on time? Here are the three key takeaways from the interview:

  • Setting priorities for each day helps Sandy stay productive.
  • Making your business more sustainable can be a daunting process, but it’s important to just start somewhere.
  • Targeting energy management and waste can give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Internet Retailing: What does an average day look like for you at Wholesome Hub? What are the daily concerns?

Sandy Abram: I’m not sure if there is such a thing as an average day in a small business but I definitely have some daily rituals that form part of a bigger weekly ritual which helps me be productive and stay focused.

At the start of each day the first thing I do is check in with all the key members of our team to make sure they have everything they need in order to have a productive and enjoyable day.

Once I know that our team are all OK, I start off with the three most important things I need to achieve that day. These are projects I have decided upon the day before and based on the particular day of the week, may fall under the bigger banner of sales, marketing, new product development, finance or customer experience.

My daily concerns are all centred around how we can better achieve our goal of being a voice for our planet, helping people live healthier and more sustainably whilst creating a profitable business that our customers love and our staff are happy and proud to be a part of.

IR: What kind of checks have you put in place to ensure the brands Wholesome Hub is selling meet its guidelines for being eco-friendly and ethical?

SA: Each brand we’ve partnered with at Wholesome Hub has been chosen because they’re taking the right steps in helping to create a more sustainable future. Our brands use better ingredients and materials, less packaging, cleaner production methods and they create products that are higher quality and built to last the test of time.

Our brands have values that are aligned with ours, putting people and our planet first. Having been a part of the organic, ethical and sustainable industry since 2005 when I started my first business, I have learned a lot in regards to understanding different certifications and standards and how they vary from country to country, so I can cut through the greenwashing and keep ahead of industry changes.

IR: You recently partnered with Greenfleet to offset carbon emissions caused by shipping. How did this come about? What does the partnership mean for Wholesome Hub?

SA: We have actually been working with Greenfleet for over 10 years, so it’s not an entirely new relationship. We have been offsetting the carbon emissions generated from shipping products from our overseas brands and suppliers to our warehouse as part of our sister company, so it only made sense that we continued that story, and started offsetting the carbon emissions generated to get our products from our warehouse to our customer’s doorstep.

For us, this partnership is so important as I believe we all have a moral obligation to do what’s right and consider the impact our business has on our planet and environment.

We all love the convenience of online shopping, including me, but I believe we can achieve our personal goals and look after our planet at the same time. And considering how viable it is to offset shipping generated carbon emissions, I really hope more retailers will be inspired to consider a similar program as it creates a great story which I know will connect with customers and staff alike.

For our customers, partnering with Greenfleet means that every time someone places an order, we will be contributing a fixed amount to Greenfleet who will use these funds to plant native Australian trees on our behalf. These tress will help fight the impacts of climate change. They will capture carbon emissions from our atmosphere, promote biodiversity, improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and provide vital habitat for native wildlife.

IR: We’re seeing a lot of businesses begin to embrace sustainability in various ways. What advice would you give to businesses looking to implement a more robust sustainable offering? Where do you start?

SA: I am so excited about this and understand that it can be daunting. I always believe in getting the biggest bang for your buck, so starting with energy management and energy use, switching to green power if installing solar panels aren’t an option, asking staff to switch off their computers and equipment when not in use (at the wall), turning down the heating and air-conditioning, installing timers and using energy bills to track how your energy use is changing over time. Not only will you be saving the planet, but the monetary savings are an added bonus too!

There is also a lot people can do when it comes to waste reduction, using less packaging, switching to more eco-friendly products and solutions in the office, think dairy-free milks in the fridge and compostable bin liners for something different, and even fun and creative things like giving staff an eco-pack as a Christmas gift or setting a challenge to reduce the energy bill in return for a (veggie-inspired) staff lunch out.

I think the biggest thing is to start somewhere and once people can see the benefits and feel that sense of satisfaction that they actually are doing something positive, they are much more likely to keep going and build on what they’ve started.

IR: Is there anything else you want to add? Anything upcoming in the business to look out for?

SA: We do have some exciting projects in the pipeline which I can’t talk about just yet but overall I am optimistic about our future and believe that embracing sustainability as a business presents lots of positive opportunities.

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