Online tool that makes it easier than ever to connect with Fair Trade suppliers in Asia
From tea to kids toys, embroidery to paper goods, WFTO Members in Asia represent a huge variety of products, materials and artisan techniques. We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities to help our Members showcase their diverse wares and bring their products to market – that’s why we’re so excited to launch the Raw Materials and Product Search, an online tool that makes it easier than ever for potential buyers to identify and connect with WFTO Members in Asia.
Created by WFTO Asia, the Search platform is the first of its kind for WFTO. Using an online tool that features different search parameters, users can quickly filter through a database and find organizations that match their criteria. Potential buyers can filter Members by the category of product they make or sell, the raw materials they use, the country they are based in, or a combination of all three. The tool also allows users to toggle between Membership type and status. The platform includes a directory page for each Member, which displays up-to-date contact information and other relevant details designed to streamline the order and sale process.
The Search platform is primarily targeted at brands, companies, retailers and independent designers who are interested in producing or collaborating with value-aligned makers and suppliers. It can also be leveraged as a peer-to-peer resource for Members looking to collaborate with other Members, by individual consumers who want to source a particular product, or for research purposes.
“Producers struggle on two grounds: first, finding long term Fair Trade or conventional buyers for their products and second, finding raw materials produced using Fair Trade Principles. A search engine of this kind could assist the producers immensely as it would help buyers identify Fair Trade producers and help producers identify raw materials produced under fair conditions. I am very happy that such an initiative is being undertaken by WFTO Asia.” — Johny Joseph, Director, Creative Handicrafts
Showcasing what WFTO Members in Asia have to offer
WFTO Asia’s network of Members is now at an all-time high, spanning more than 140 organizations across 18 countries – and growing. Between them, Members have a vast amount of knowledge and experience in Fair Trade, and specialized skills and expertise across a huge number of product categories. The data used to build the Search platform was collected using a Membership Market Access Survey issued to all WFTO Asia Members. The results of this survey reveal the true variety of Members’ work and the different ways organizations are employing the 10 Principles of Fair Trade to develop innovative products.
On the platform, Members’ offerings have been grouped into five key categories: fashion, homewares, leisure, food, and toiletries. These cover more than 50 sub-categories, which range from spices and cocoa to jewelry and cosmetics. The raw materials used in production include textiles, metal and plant materials, with further diversity found within each grouping. In total, survey respondents identified more than 80 individual raw materials, with most Members working across multiple categories. As these numbers suggest, every WFTO Member in Asia has a unique product offering and together, our Members cater to a huge variety of clients globally.
Improving market access for WFTO Asia Members
The way consumers make their purchasing decisions is changing. In Asia and across the world, demand for transparency, ethics and sustainability is on the rise – and with that comes new opportunities for Fair Trade organizations to reach a wider market. A recent study of 30,000 consumers in 60 countries showed that commitment to social values has a heavy or very heavy influence on 43% of shoppers’ purchasing decisions. Additionally, an increasing number of people are willing to pay a premium for goods produced under Fair Trade conditions. In response to these consumer trends, more brands and retailers are now looking to partner with producers that have a strong social impetus. WFTO Members are uniquely positioned to fulfill this want.
As well as information about materials and products, the Membership Market Access Survey reveals how WFTO Members in Asia interact with their customers. Of the 76 initial survey respondents, 65% indicated they accept orders and 60% offer customizations, revealing that a majority of Members have the capacity to deal directly with buyers. Most Members use websites and social media to promote their business, and a quarter sell their products online through their own e-store. This confirms the value WFTO Asia Members place on interacting with clients online.
As a growing number of retailers, businesses and consumers look for ways to engage with and support Fair Trade, it’s more important than ever to raise the online visibility of WFTO Asia Members and streamline the way buyers network with them. It is WFTO Asia’s hope that the addition of the Search platform to the website will help improve market access for Members by making these connections more efficient and effective.
“What a great way to showcase Fair Trade products from Asia than creating a common and collective virtual marketing space through the WFTO Asia website! This new online tool and platform, expected to result in member’s increased exposure is required to ensure that we remain relevant in today’s crowded marketplace and that our products are visible and accessible.” — Mitos Urgel, Acting Executive Director, WFTO Asia
How to use the Search platform
The Raw Material and Product Search is a free tool that’s available to the public via the WFTO Asia website. To perform a search, simply navigate to wfto-asia.com/raw-material-and-product-search and use the dropdown menus to define your search parameters. You can specify one or multiple options depending on what you’re looking for – the more parameters you select, the more refined the results will be. (For example, searching for a Guaranteed Member that works in the fashion industry in India and deals primarily with natural fibers will reveal a shortlist of only a few entries. For a more general search, try specifying by product category and country only.)
Select ‘search’ and a list of relevant Member entries will appear below. Click on the Member’s name to view its individual directory page, which contains up-to-date contact information and more details about the Member’s products and materials.
Data presented in the search results are collected from the Membership Market Access Survey. If the survey for your organization hasn’t been submitted, please complete now.
To report inaccurate information in search results or to offer additional information about raw materials and products, please send an email to [email protected]
by Emily Lush, WFTO Asia Blog contributor