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Online Trading Boosts Op-Shop Sales

29 September 2011 at 2:43 pm
Staff Reporter
Charity shops in the UK are moving online to boost sales, with more than 50 per cent of shops now selling items online, research from the Charity Retail Association has revealed.

Staff Reporter | 29 September 2011 at 2:43 pm


Online Trading Boosts Op-Shop Sales
29 September 2011 at 2:43 pm
Image: The Salvation Army's online store – launched in January 2011 – has been a great success. 

Charity shops in the UK are moving online to boost sales, with more than 50 per cent of shops now selling items online, research from the Charity Retail Association has revealed.

Among the 56 per cent of UK charity shops that are now trading online, almost all (94 per cent) are using the popular online marketplace eBay.

The Selling Online Survey 2011, conducted by the UK Charity Retail Association, revealed that eBay is the mostly commonly used website with 94 per cent of charities selling on the internet using it – however 31 per cent of charities indicated they sell items on their own website.

While online sales still makeup a small percentage of the overall sales, online trading is growing strongly and charities believe it will grow in importance. A quarter of charities trading online reported that online sales made up between 3 and 5 per cent of sales – only 9 per cent of charities fell into this bracket in 2010.

Charities are also optimistic about this new sales avenue – 87 per cent expected sales to increase, and more than half of these expected them to increase a lot.

While the UK is ahead of Australia in this trend, Australian Not for Profits are realising the value of online trading.

In January this year, the Salvation Army in Australia launched its first online store. The Salvation Army has long sold recycled items from its Salvos Stores around the country, but the move to online was new territory for the organisation – and a first for op-shops in Australia.

Salvos Stores Community Liaison Manager Pat Daley says the online store is a major success, with sales growing since the the store was launched back in January.

Daley says the online store is becoming more and more popular with customers, and it is expected to grow substantially over the coming twelve months. He says the challenge for Salvos Stores is to meet the increasing demand.

Daley says they see their online store as enhancing their operations and increasing sales in the Salvos network of stores throughout Qld , NSW and the ACT.

Savlos Stores regard the online store as being an excellent promotional tool for their stores, and Daley says they have no doubt that more and more charities will be moving toward online trading.

Wendy Mitchell, Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the Charity Retail Association, says most charity shops in the UK  are still not at the level of commercial retailers in selling goods on the internet, but the growth in sales this year shows that they are increasingly adapting to new online markets.

She says the optimism shown by charities about future growth in internet retailing suggests that more and more sales will be moving online in the years to come.
Lorin May, head of EU charity and sustainability at eBay, says UK charities have already raised over £17m by trading on eBay, and he expects the number to increase as more charities take their first steps into e-commerce.

Making the move to trading online is not easy for all charities. According to the report, factors that prevented charities from selling more online include not having appropriately trained staff and not having the necessary ICT equipment. Two thirds of the charities indicated that they find it difficult to fulfil online orders efficiently.

MissionFish UK, eBay’s partner charity, has published a free guide to help charities trade online. So far over 2,000 copies have been distributed.

Click here to download MissionFish UK’s ‘Step-by-step guide to raising funds on eBay’, [PDF].

Visit the Salvos Online Store here: 

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