According to the British Charities Aid Foundation, the UK is the most generous country in Europe when it comes to charity, in spite of the current recession. In 2022,
75 percent of people donated to charity
32 percent of people volunteered for a good cause – an increase of 1.58 million people!
63 percent of people assisted a stranger in need.
With these astonishing figures in mind, it is no surprise that charity retailing is a big business. In the UK alone, there are around 75 charity organizations, operating 6,900 stores and generating around £300 million for charity. Different estimates suggest that about £1 billion every year passes through the tills of the charity retailers. That’s quite the business! Though charities have a lot of momentum, there are also warning signs.
Not all sunshine and rainbows
The True and Fair Foundation estimates that charity shops only make 17 percent profit on store revenue. Moreover, the competition between charities is increasing. In response to this and to other external retail pressures, such as discount fashion stores and online shopping, charity retailers must begin to reassess how their brand is perceived by consumers.
It’s all about the staff
After attending a Sue Ryder meeting in Manchester, I returned deeply inspired from witnessing the unwavering dedication of the individuals working in the charity stores. Rarely have I encountered such a remarkable display of creativity, enthusiasm, and determination, all driven by their desire to bring about positive outcomes for the local Sue Ryder store. It is evident that the passionate staff in the charity retail sector perceive themselves as distinct from high street retailers, and in many ways, they are right. The sourcing and supply of items in thrift stores differ greatly from traditional retailers. However, the most significant disparity lies in the staff themselves. While store associates in high street retail stores possess extensive product knowledge and are trained to maximize sales, the volunteers in charity retail stores are motivated by their belief in a cause and their desire to contribute. They possess the will to succeed but often lack the means to sell more effectively. The question then arises: how can we merge the unwavering commitment and enthusiasm of charity shop volunteers with the sales efficiency of professional sales associates? The answer lies in the integration of retail technology.
Equip your store to succeed
By implementing a POS and management system, charity retailers can increase foot traffic and empower their staff. A complete management system like LS Central can enable charity retailers to:
Plan ahead sales promotions, offers and campaigns. Prices will update automatically at the POS.
Use “happy hour” and coupons to drive traffic in quiet periods.
Support impulse buys at the till – for example having the POS suggest additional items before you close the sale.
Do upsells and cross-selling – some items can be set to trigger messages to the cashier suggesting related items.
Implement customer loyalty schemes – offer meaningful rewards in return for purchase.
Use a mobile POS to take your business outside your shop’s premises.
Use mobile loyalty solution to communicate events, sales or directions to your stores.
Now you might be asking: “Isn’t this is far too complicated for volunteers?” With LS Retail software solutions it is not. The whole system can be implemented, planned and controlled by the employees at head office. In the stores, staff members just need to go through some basic training - and then they will be up and running. To give one example: all merchandise sales at the 2004 Athens Olympics were done through LS Retail software. Through six weeks, hundreds of volunteers operated the POS with bare minimum training. Shop staff is the best weapon in the charity retailer’s arsenal. Combined with high street retail best practices and the technology to support them, I believe charity retail has a lot of space to improve.
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