The importance of sustainability – interview with Ben Seaman, CEO of Eartheasy.com

One of our core values at Procurify is sustainability. But we’re not only interested in how we support sustainability – we love talking to others working towards that same goal as well.

This week we caught up with Ben Seaman, CEO of Vancouver-based Eartheasy.com, a go-to website for those interested in sustainable living. Eartheasy provides eco-friendly products, guides and articles to its visitors. We talked with Mr. Seaman about the business, their philosophy and, of course, their purchasing process.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q) What is Eartheasy? Where did the idea come from?

A) A few years ago, my father started writing articles on sustainable living and posting them online. He gained a pretty big audience, but wasn’t making any revenue. So, in 2007 I was building another online business, but my father told me how much traffic he was getting and how much revenue. I quit work and moved home monetizing the website and putting together an online store. My brother joined my a year later. So, since 2007, basically, we’ve been running this business and been able to double or triple revenue every year since. And, my father still writes articles for us. He really was the inspiration for us. We have three planks to the company – there’s the content side which consists of our guides and blogs, we have the online store where we retail more than 1,000 conservation and sustainable-related products, and the wholesale side where we wholesale products to more than 2,000 retail stores in North America.

Q) What is the philosophy behind the company?

A) We have all of the sustainable products in one place. And it’s really about the attention our buyers take to carry products that are the least toxic option, or energy and water conserving options that help people live a little lighter on the planet. Growing up in a natural environment, I grew to love nature. In my lifetime, unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of what I love disappear – fish stocks, ocean acidification is hitting the Strait of Georgia here in Vancouver. It all comes down to our culture – we use too many resources. Part of the solution, I think, is to consume less and to make sure what we do consume, we consume responsibly.

Q) What is Eartheasy’s purchasing process, for both the retail and wholesale branches of the company?

A) We issue purchase orders to the manufacturer, they send us back the invoice, either by email or mail. We then forward the list of products that we are receiving to the warehouse so the warehouse is alerted to when they are getting various products. Then they receive them and update their inventory. Then, we do the same. When customers purchase online the order gets sent the warehouse and the warehouse sends out the product. If it is a drop ship vendor, where the product doesn’t get sent from the warehouse but directly to the customer, then the order is sent straight to the drop shipper.

Q) In an e-commerce site, is it a challenge to have the right amount of inventory on hand for customers?

A) Customers expect their products to be delivered quite fast, especially in the U.S. market. In Canada it is a bit different because we are used to having everything come up from America. Within the U.S. (Eartheasy’s primary market), we can’t sell a product and then have it sit. For products we inventory, we have to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory all the time.

Q) So, what’s next for Eartheasy? What is the next stage for the company?

A) I see the future of the company in two big areas. The first one is expanding what we offer for retail and the other is expanding what we wholesale to the 2,000 stores we retail to. That wholesale roster is a big asset and we should be selling more to them.

>> Read more about what sustainable procurement is.

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