What is ethical sourcing and why should you make it a part of your brand?

TK Wang

At Epic Sourcing we are committed to partnering Kiwi businesses with Chinese suppliers that meet the highest ethical standards. More so than ever before companies are embracing the responsibility that sourcing from a low-cost region carries, and we are proud to be a part of positive change. So, what is ethical sourcing and why should you make it a part of your brand?

What it means to source ethically

Broadly speaking we are talking about responsible, sustainable and socially aware procurement practices.

“Ethics involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior." - Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Sourcing ethically means taking into account the social impact of the sourcing process. That means knowing where products come from, who is making them, and how the people making them are being treated. Human rights are at the core of sourcing ethically and companies need to take an active role in ensuring that international standards are upheld.

Can you source ethically from China?

Yes! ‘Made in China’ has for years been synonymous with cheap, low quality products, and a very low standard when it comes to human rights. When discussing ethical sourcing with our clients it’s not uncommon to be met with a quizzical look as if sourcing ethically from China is a misnomer. While issues certainly still exist, the broad stroke associated with ‘Made in China’ no longer fits. The industry is changing and companies do have a choice.

Why businesses source ethically

You can’t answer the why without talking about incentives. Broadly speaking, there are 3 main reasons businesses look to source ethically and sustainably:

  1. Enhance your brand.
  2. Reduce costs and risk.
  3. Do good!

1. Enhance your brand

Data on consumer attitudes shows an increase in the demand for ethically and sustainably sourced products and materials. But does this translate at the checkout? As consumers we want to make the right choice, but at what cost? A recent survey of more than 1,000 consumers in the U.S showed that 52% would pay more for food and beverages sourced ethically. The percentage dropped slightly for footwear and clothing, but 45% of consumers said they would pay extra for garments that were sourced ethically. Another key finding was that almost 25% said they seek out information on the origin of products before making a purchase. It’s clear that consumers care, but it’s worth noting that there is limited data on whether consumers are following through at the checkout. People want to do good, but it’s unclear how much they are willing to pay for it.

What is clear however, is that In the digital marketing age businesses are benefiting from building authentic and captivating brands. Consumers want to know your story. Why did you start this business? What do you believe in and stand for? Build a brand that people believe in and customer loyalty will follow. Ethical sourcing can form a key part of your brand and story. 

Check out some of the cool Kiwi companies Epic Sourcing has worked with.

2. Reduce costs and risk

Sourcing ethically has always been seen as synonymous with an increase in costs. This isn’t necessarily the case. At the heart of ethical sourcing is transparency. This means knowing exactly who you are working with at every stage in the supply chain. This improvement in oversight and control can help reduce problems (and costs) long term. Risk is inextricably tied to cost and putting in place a sourcing process with ethics at its core can pay off long term. As the fashion industry has learned the hard way in recent years, the cost of being associated with manufacturers with a poor human rights records can be devastating to your brand. Done right, sourcing ethically can improve your bottom line.

3. Do good

How does the old saying go? The business of business is business. There might be truth in that, but plenty of businesses are built with ethics and sustainability at their core. Not as part of their marketing strategy, but from a desire to simply do good. It sounds idealistic, but look at the world we live in now. Politics, culture, and business invariably mix and the younger generations are increasingly putting a premium on social consciousness. This ultimately impacts how consumers view your brand, but also has an impact on things like recruitment. Young graduates want to work for organisations that have a reputation for ethical and sustainable business practices.

Looking to source ethically? Book a free consultation with TK

How Epic Sourcing can help your business source ethically

Manufacturer and supplier prospecting

We’ll assess your unique needs and come up with a tailor-made sourcing solution for your business. We only work with suppliers and manufacturers that have been through a rigorous verification process and have been BSCI certified.

Our commitments:

  • No sweat shops
  • No child labour
  • Fair wages
  • Industry certified health and safety standards

Regulatory bodies we work in accordance with:

The Business Social Compliance Initiative has established an international code of conduct to help companies implement responsible business practices. The overarching goal is to improve working conditions in factories around the world.

Learn more

The ISO 14001 outlines requirements for an effective environmental management system. Being registered signals a manufacturer’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Learn more

ISO 9001 2015 certification helps establish an organisation’s commitment to quality standards. It is a key indicator of a manufacturer’s ability to consistently and reliably provide products that meet regulatory requirements and customer expectations.

Learn more

Factory audit and visits

At Epic sourcing we put a premium on transparency. We want to help you build a trusting and long-lasting relationship with your supplier. If you want to see the factory floor we have a team in China that can conduct a visit for you. If you already have a supplier or manufacturer in mind, we can conduct an audit for you.

Looking for an ethical sourcing solution? Contact us today