Scanning the horizon: Trade Aid provides provenance with new instore technology

Trade Aid has long been fighting for the rights of producers and now it’s aiming to bring them closer to consumers this month with the help of instore touch screens. 

All Trade Aid shops are installing computers that with a scan of a barcode will link any product to its global producer.

“Trade Aid’s business model is based on having a good understanding of the issues that producers in developing countries face,” says communications manager Michelia Ward. “So this is the perfect vehicle for introducing the producer’s world into the world of the consumer. We are really excited to be able to share this information with our customers. ”

The project has been piloted since late 2010 when Trade Aid volunteer and University of Otago PhD student, Jason Taylor, started developing the interactive technology, which got its start as a prototype cobbled together from an old shop scanner and second-hand computer equipment.

It was originally tested in the Dunedin Trade Aid shop, followed by a second generation model trialled throughout 2011 in the Wellington shop.

Taylor has attracted international attention with the Trade Aid technology and has been asked to speak at the Fair Trade International Symposium in Liverpool, England.

The first version that customers will be able to interact with focuses on Trade Aid’s celebration of World Fair Trade Day on May 12. The screens will be displaying video footage from the World Fair Trade Organization, explaining how fair trade works for producers. Customers can also leave messages or test their fair trade knowledge by entering the Global Party competition.

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