Tracey Bailey from Biome: Know Better, Do Better | #307

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Tracey shares how to play the game without compromising your ethics

Tracey Bailey from Biome

Tracey is the founder and CEO of Biome Eco Stores, Australia’s first online eco store and greenwashing-free zone. She launched the business in 2003 from her family living room, and today operates five shops and a thriving online store that offer simple, clean and waste-free products. She was named one of the Top 10 People in E-commerce in Australia in 2019 and 2020. Her life’s purpose is creating the change she wants to see in the world, inspired by her childhood in Central Queensland and her encounter with an orangutan in Indonesia.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by  Tracey Bailey, Founder and CEO of Biome

Driven to launch Australia’s first online eco store way back in 2003 after looking into the eyes of an orangutan in the Indonesian jungle, Tracey Bailey’s pioneering business Biome, now has around 6000 online SKUs and stores in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne.  With her committed team and a devoted following, Tracey manages ecommerce success with maintaining her ethical commitment – a difficult path, but one well worth the struggle.  In this chat, Tracey delves deep into palm-oil problems, reveals her passion for last for life products and talks about the uneasy, but necessary relationship she shares with her nemesis Google.

“What’s that next problem with consumerism that needs a better way of doing things?”

Tracey Bailey

Honesty at the heart

“I am a passionate anti greenwasher. That being the core of where Biome started really. I just hate the thought of big business thinking that we consumers are all gullible little pawns that they can play with, with their marketing strategies and that they can try and scam us into thinking that something is what it’s not. I just find that obviously very annoying and disappointing. 

So for me, it’s all about transparency, speaking the whole truth. And sure, something about a product may not be as green as you’d like it to be, but people are intelligent. They’re happy to be given the full information and then to make their own decision.”

Give money to community, not Google

“I try to spend as little as I can with Google and Facebook. As far as I’m concerned, they’re rich enough. They take a lot of money out of Australia. It’s a sort of a transfer of wealth and we just can’t keep spending so much money with them. And I’d far prefer to give the money to an individual who’s trying to build their community of influence. So this is a way that we can hopefully mutually benefit.

Google was free, right in the beginning.  There were many years where it was free and then you had to start to pay for it. And I did take a conscientious objector approach and refused to pay Google any money. But I used to go to the retail global conference on the Gold Coast every year. And I think I’d been going about three years before finally the light bulb went off in my head. You’ve got to be in it or get out of it. We were never going to survive if we didn’t start playing the same game, but it is very hard not to spend excessively. Google and Facebook are the only winners, right, as we all just keep bidding for the same customer.”

Build up your sales prior to replatforming

“PrestaShop is an open source software, which we’d always been on, and prior to that we were on one called OS Commerce, because when I very first started Biome, there was no ‘shop in a box’ back those days. You either had to build from scratch, or…I found this open source commerce and actually taught myself how to build the website from there. 

So we moved from OS commerce to PrestaShop, another open source, but it was too clunky and slow moving for us with the rapid change that’s going on with all the new technologies and so on. It was taking too long for these apps to build integrations with PrestaShop, whereas Shopify is first off the rank. So we needed to get a lot more agile and the ability to adopt those technologies. 

We need to improve our website speed and improve our SEO structure.  In hindsight, my advice to somebody would be to build up your sales prior to that changeover, get an unusual spike and really good momentum going immediately before.”

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