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Client: Trade Aid

Case Studies


An integrated e-commerce platform

Trade Aid is a social enterprise that promotes and educates the public about trade justice and also works with over 65 different trading partners from all over the world to sell a wide range of fair trade products. The organisation was first started by Christchurch based couple Vi and Richard Cottrell in the early 1970’s. Over the last 40+ years the organisation has grown with Trade Aid shops located in towns and cities across New Zealand, and an ever-increasing number of stockists on both the North and South Island.


Trade Aid recognised the dramatic increase in online shopping and understood that a vital part of growing their business and increasing profitability would require them to improve their existing e-commerce site. This would also streamline their ordering with the numerous stockists and wholesale customers who sell their fair-trade products and so they commissioned Publica to work with them to create a new and improved online shopping presence.

The re-development of the Trade Aid website touched a number of Publica’s specialty areas; a fresh design for the frontend, improvements to the user experience, a refresh of site wide navigation as well as new integration with an inventory management system, adjustments to communication with a third-party freight company and creation of a simple and easy to use CMS for the client’s team.

Publica is unique in that it has both design and development teams that work together to deliver complex web projects such as the Trade Aid e-commerce website. Our Project Management Team works with our teams in the studio as well as the client to make sure no detail is missed.


Our designer took inspiration from the client’s brief and branding guidelines to create a look and feel that would move the website forward and yet, continue to work with Trade Aid’s existing marketing collateral and product branding. As the development team worked through the systems and processes of the client’s e-commerce activities, their findings were fed back so design was sympathetic to functionality.


One of the greatest challenges of this project was creating a website that would integrate with a particularly complex API for the inventory management system used by Trade Aid for many years. The new website was required to bring efficiencies and changes to systems where needed, but at the same time maintain the unique processes that had been formed by the client and their partners over time. Our project manager and developers took time to first understand the current systems and processes, discuss proposed changes with the client and third-party suppliers and then finally create a bespoke solution that was best for the client and their customers.


At Publica, we design and build digital solutions that give our clients as much control of their site as they would like. This is particularly important with e-commerce sites that are regularly updated through integration with other platforms and constantly interacting with the public throughout the day and night. Our team worked closely with Trade Aid to understand their particular requirements for a backend system that would enable them to manage their site in a clear and simple way, whilst intuitively working in areas that had previously been a drain to their staff resources.

The new Trade Aid site was launched in June 2017 after many months of collaboration with our client and diligent graft from our talented teams across the studio. The site is not only attractive and user friendly, it has made shopping for trade aid products easy and enjoyable, which matches with the Trade Aid aim – to make fair trade accessible to all.

Learn more about how you can support fair trade and buy yourself a sweet bar of guilt-free chocolate, go to

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