I’m done with Amazon. Well, sort of.
Instead of buying stuff on Amazon, I’ve started using Alonovo, an online shopping outlet that provides ratings of its merchants (some of them, anyway) in such categories as social responsibility and business ethics. Users can customize those ratings (which come from KLD Research & Analytics and the U.S. Federal Elections Commission) according to their own values—for example, assigning more importance to how well a company complies with environmental regulations and less to how generous its charitable giving program is. In addition, Alonovo donates a portion of its revenue to nearly 100 nonprofits and activist organizations (such as the ACLU, the Breast Cancer Fund, and Unicef); shoppers choose which group their purchases will benefit.
Here’s how it works: Alonovo is a member of Amazon’s Associates program, so it’s basically a portal through which Amazon’s wares are sold. Shoppers get the same selection and price as they would on the e-commerce giant—in fact, Alonovo’s site is powered by Amazon, and the checkout process takes place on Amazon—but with the added benefit of the ratings and donations.
For each purchase on Alonovo, Amazon pays Alonovo a referral fee of up to 8.5% of the revenue associated with that purchase. Alonovo donates either all or half of that commission to the beneficiary organization chosen by the shopper. The group gets 100% if it’s an “active” partner of Alonovo’s (active partners promote Alonovo in their newsletters, websites, and email campaigns); otherwise it gets 50%. There are currently 22 active partners and 73 passive ones.
Registration on Alonovo is free and not required; Alonovo adds no fees to the products purchased through its site. It also offers forum discussions and links to CSR-related news stories.
I only wish the site could provide ratings on more companies and products—as does Alonovo itself, I’m sure—but acquiring and streamlining the data required to do that is hugely complicated, to say the least, so I’m not going to blame them.