Mindful Sourcing

Mindful Masterclass #1: Sourcing - UpCircle

By Krissie • 28 October 2022

Mindful Masterclass #1: Sourcing - UpCircle

Welcome to the first in our Mindful Masterclass series – a run of features with a strong connection to the MindfulCommerce Sustainability Guide pillars. We will be shining a light on some of the brands doing amazing things for our planet and striving to make the world of ecommerce that little bit greener and inspire others.

This article digs into what’s working well for the brand UpCircle, in terms of:

  • Sourcing strategy 

  • Brand positioning 

  • Ecommerce tech stack set up

We’ll also dig into a few key takeaways that we believe others can learn from.

Meet UpCircle: Who are they?

This article focuses on a brand doing some amazing things in the world of Mindful Sourcing – UpCircle. As the first pillar of our Sustainability Guide, Mindful Sourcing underpins the eco-credentials of any brand, ensuring that products have been ethically sourced and sustainably created. We see UpCircle as a business that truly exemplifies the ethos of Mindful Sourcing.

A thriving D2C beauty brand, UpCircle are in their sixth year of trading, and stand out from their competitors by offering a complete range of wellness products based on waste materials gleaned from other industrial processes. From spices leftover from chai syrup production, through to soothing chamomile stem extract, a by-product of the tea industry.

Founded by a brother and sister duo, UpCircle’s first product used coffee grounds from participating artisan cafes to create a powerful, circulation stimulating exfoliator. To date they have transformed over 450 tonnes of the stuff into sustainable skincare!

Since those early days, their range of products has expanded quite considerably — but every line they offer still has the same origin story — based around a sustainable, reclaimed ingredient –– still bursting with beauty benefits, but very much reclaimed and recycled.

Mindful Sourcing: What Are UpCircle Doing Right? 

UpCircle are incredibly transparent about their sourcing – and their product design appears to be largely reverse engineered – the “rescued” ingredient playing a leading role in all of their offerings. They’re not coy about stating where their ingredients come from – their provenance is worn as a badge of honour, and plays a key role in much of their marketing messaging.

It’s very clear that their commitment to sustainability is more than skin deep. Reclaimed, zero-waste ingredients are not a marketing ploy or gimmick. Spend a few minutes exploring their brand website and you’ll see that a lot of thought has gone into making their business’ footprint as modest as possible.

All packaging across UpCircle’s full range is 99% plastic free. In fact, the brand is certified Plastic Negative. Beyond this (and earning a huge gold star from Mindful Commerce!) UpCircle also actively instructs their customers on how to recycle the various types of packaging that they receive - helping to guarantee that every element finds its way to the proper processing facility.

UpCircle also offers a refilling service with a generous 20% discount to further sweeten the experience. And for that 1% of their packaging that’s not plastic free, they offer a plastic-free refill option. They’ve even designed a special metal “tube squeezer” to help their customers get every last little bit of product from the tube!

Tech Teardown 

So, with a killer combo of circular ingredients and circular packaging, we’ve established that UpCircle is bossing the world of Mindful Sourcing. But what’s under the hood of their ecommerce website that gets these planet-friendly products into the hands of happy customers?

We took a quick look and were happy to see that the store is running on Shopify – our front-runner platform and top recommendation for any brand looking to design and build a sustainable ecommerce store (if you’d like to know why, click here). 

We also noted that UpCircle clearly invests in their customer experience, especially when it comes to personalisation. OctaneAI is on hand to power interactive skincare quizzes (boosting the brand’s ability to customise messaging and offers via zero-party data). Meanwhile a combination of PushOwl and Klaviyo handle marketing automation. 

UpCircle offers a number of ways to shop their range, from build-a-bundle functionality to canny cross-selling (powered and personalised by Rebuy, which has an integration with Klaviyo, allowing for data-driven product recommendations to be included within personalised email campaigns). As a result, they need to be able to deliver an initiative filtering experience that takes away the risk of complexity that their merchandising strategy would otherwise present. BoostCommerce does a great job of ensuring that this need is met, offering collection filtering, smart site search and more.

Website Carbon Footprint

When we ran UpCircle’s URL through the emission assessment tool Digital Beacon, it received an “OK” rating. While this might sound fine, it’s actually the second worst rating that a site can be awarded, so there’s room for improvement here!

Digital Beacon did note that the site was hosted using renewable energy or carbon offsets which is a fab start.

UpCircle team, if you're reading this, send us a message and we will put you in touch with people who can help lower your websites impact.

Key Takeaways from UpCircle

  • Mindful sourcing is just the start of things – a fantastic foundation to build on, but not the only aspect of your business that needs to be approached with care and intention.

  • Sustainability lends itself well to storytelling – from a single product’s origin through to the very foundation of your business, people love to hear the “why” behind your brand.

  • Use your website to learn more about your customers, on an individual basis, in ways that will actively benefit, engage and entertain them.

  • Your tech stack represents the key to both understanding and serving your customers – be sure to build out a collection of apps that work in harmony, integrating where possible, to ensure that the insight gathered can be automatically put to work, saving your time and improving your overall impact.

  • Run your own site through Digital Beacon to see where you’re starting from when it comes to your website's digital carbon footprint and do what you can to reduce it (contact us for an intro to experts).

👉🏼 Learn more about Mindful Sourcing, and the apps and experts that can help your business excel in our FREE Sustainability Guide here!