Here is a mini-blog I made on facebook to some new potential vendors on facebook.Let me know what you think, good idea, bad idea? Any ideas on how it can be improved? At Guilds of Requiem we will be striving for this ideal:
What we mean by 100% transparency?
It means 2 things. First, it means we will show, or try to show/ tell, how all of our products are made- where it comes from, who makes it, how we are doing it. That doesnt mean you have to give away recipes or fully attempt to instruct on the process, though its okay if you do. A true master of a craft must train and practice for years to develop a skill. That skill and the quality of the materials are what the customer is buying. If someone else wants to mimic your product, it doesn't matter. We will let them. We are not competing, we are cooperating and collaborating. No one can do everything. So if someone "steals" your methods the worst is they try to replicate what you do. There are billions of people in this world, no one can make a product for everyone. At best, however, a new set of hands may come up with a better way and your trade progresses. Everyone benefits.
We are not naieve. Transparent methods are stupid without the second aspect of transparency: transparency of cost. This one is crucial for the first to succeed. We want to provide where every dollar or shilling goes when the customer pays for a good or service. If we mark something up, we will give that information. We will tell how much each raw material cost. If we are making a fair living, we shouldn't fear doing this. Things that grow from the ground are not free- a person had to plant it, tend to it, harvest it, and process it. That person lives in a world they must survive in- we all have a cost of living. So if another company or group steals our methods and undercuts our price, we can say, "how did you do that? Are you not paying your workers fairly? Are you stealing from public lands?" They live in the same world we do, they have the exact same challenges. If we do things fairly and justly but are more expensive, we either haven't found the best way or they are being dishonest in some way to make things cheaper. If they found a better way, then we can ask to learn from them and adapt- humanity progressed by sharing knowledge. This sort of business strategy only works with 100% transparency. We must not hold anything back- of course right now there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to put this information out there. Thats okay, we are just starting out and we are trying. We don't have any examples to follow, because no one has really tried this yet.
The haggler cannot haggle with a transparent merchant. The transparent merchant has already dropped as low as they can and can prove it. If that isn't good enough for them, fine, go buy from someone else. They may save money, but it will be obvious that the saved money is causing harm somewhere. Haggling is a game we simple are not going to play- someone losses in a haggle, and we want everyone to win. Ourselves, our partners, the consumer, the earth, the future.
This business strategy is a new idea, less than ten years old as far as I can see. It's designed to level the playing field and bring down the wealthy who hoard. Not to harm them, but to stop that behaviour from hurting others. We are doing nothing dishonest or aggressive, we are simply going to be as honest and open as possible and watch what happens. Sorry this was so long and if you have any questions or concerns, then ask or express them. Please. Problems get solved faster with more minds thinking about them and having discussion. Honestly, I think what will happen with this will coincide with what Mahatma Ghandi said about the non-violent revolt of india: "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Our "competitors" will have to follow suit and cooperate or eventually go out of business.