The importance of online retail has been growing for years and has received another boost from the Corona pandemic. At the same time, awareness of sustainable consumption is rising among the population. However, when consumers search for products in search engines, price comparison portals and online stores, they are often faced with the challenge of retrieving information on the sustainability of products or services. This is because sustainability information is currently often not displayed systematically and comprehensively - even though easily accessible and reliable information can help consumers to make conscious consumption decisions. In addition, the integration of reliable sustainability information often involves a great deal of effort for online retailers, comparison platforms and search engines that want to promote sustainable consumption. Standard organizations that award sustainability labels, in turn, have credible information on various aspects of sustainability that could make them even more visible in online retailing.
The project "ZuSiNa" (FKZ: 67KI21009A), funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), aims to close this gap exemplary for the textile sector and to make sustainability information in online trade more accessible and visible with data-driven technologies. To this end:
- A prototypical data interface will be developed that makes label information of certified products technically accessible for search engines, comparison portals and online stores, so that sustainability information can be made visible systematically, credibly and comprehensively.
- An AI-based integration of further sustainability information will be developed in order to make additional relevant sustainability information visible in online retail.
- Approaches for sustainability communication based on behavioral science will be developed, which can promote sustainable consumption.
- The developed results and the technical solutions will be transferred to further stakeholders and to other industries.
In order to ensure that the project results meet the actual needs of standard organizations, intermediaries and manufacturers, the project will work with wide-ranging practical partners right from the start. For this purpose, Google Germany, Idealo, Otto Group, Avocado Store and the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (bevh) were recruited from the intermediary sector. In addition, the Fair Wear, GOTS, Fairtrade Germany, Oeko-Tex, WFTO and Blue Angel labels are participating from the area of standard organizations. GS1 and atrify are experts in the field of product information, and Vaude Germany is a practical partner with a manufacturer's perspective.
The 24-month project started in March 2022 and is being carried out jointly by ConPolicy, Fraunhofer IAO (CeRRI), Fraunhofer ISI and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). ConPolicy is the consortium and overall project leader. Methodologically, the project uses literature research, surveys, focus groups, online experiments, AI-methods and workshop formats, among others.