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Carsten Wulff | 01 February 2018

Charity stores: understand your customers to build brand awareness and loyalty

Charity stores: understand your customers to build brand awareness and loyalty

Charity retail is a big business. In the UK alone, there are about 10,000 charity stores selling a large variety of items including ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing, books, toys, ornaments, kitchenware, DVD, music, computer games, furnishings and bric-a-brac. Some charity shops also sell bikes, furniture and electrical appliances. After investigating the charity retail sector, it seems to me that most of the charity shops in the country are mainly focused on fashion and apparel, and especially retro and vintage clothing (including bridal). In other words, charity shops are pretty much carrying the same items as the high street specialty stores – but with a very mixed assortment.

Know your customer

In a society where consumer behavior is changing faster than ever and the shelf life of items is rapidly decreasing, one needs to wonder: who are the customers of charity shops, and what are their reasons to shop there? If you ask the enthusiastic staff in the charity stores, they will probably say that people purchase their wares because they care for the cause the charity is supporting. That’s probably true for some of the customers; there might, however, be many other reasons why people choose to shop at a thrift store, including:
  • Low price of items
  • Familiar store experience – it’s local, individual and friendly
  • The wow factor – vintage items; is this really second-hand?
  • Personal image

Unique is beautiful

Leading retailers often try to sell the story behind their products, a story that consumers then display and reproduce when they wear branded products. When you buy in charity stores, on the other hand, you can create your own story, building you own image. And in the age of social media, image means a lot. For a low price you can signal that you are an individual, that you are creative, eco-friendly and an ethical shopper. Even leaving aside the will to donate to a good cause, charity retail offers some very powerful drivers of buying behavior to their customers.

Let’s talk Millennial

In addition to maintaining the loyalty of their core audiences, that is the supporters of the charity, charity retailers should focus their efforts on attracting the attention of the younger generations: Millennial customers and Generation Z. These audiences are not only ready and willing to spend: they are also particularly responsive to some of the values thrift stores stand for. To connect with these customers, charity retailers must begin by communicating their mission more clearly to the younger demographic. The goal is to secure not just new customers, but also young volunteers and more donations, so that the right products are available for the right customers. Secondly, retailers must increase their traction with loyalty systems and social marketing. Sounds hard? It’s not. And it’s worth it. Contact our experts to find out how our easy-to-use software solutions can boost your charity business. 

The right technology for success

A POS and back office system that combines simplicity and convenience with the right set of retail functionality can be a real asset to charity retailers. Our Point of Sale solution LS One has all these characteristics – which is why it’s steadily growing in popularity in the non-profit and charity sector all over the world. Find out more on why LS One can be the perfect fit for your charity store.

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