If there is one name synonymous with the rise of online selling – and the decline of traditional high street shops – it would surely be Amazon.
From its early days selling books online and transforming the publishing industry, to its dominance of eCommerce sales around the world, Amazon’s influence is felt across the spectrum. Whether it’s original video content or speedy delivery practices, Amazon has had a huge input into the way we buy almost every kind of goods.
Recently valued at over one trillion dollars, and with over £124bn in annual revenue last year, Amazon is big business.
But it’s a business that your charity shop could be a part of. You could be selling on Amazon and making more profit for your charity. Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Buyer demographics and habits are changing
The decline of the traditional high street is evident to anyone who visits town centres around the UK. Shopping habits have been changing dramatically since the rise of the internet and eCommerce, but the impact is being felt now more than ever.
It seems like almost every week there’s an announcement of a high street staple closing its door for the last time. From Woolworths and Maplin to Toys R Us and House of Fraser.
Less footfall on the high street invariably affects the number of customers in your charity shop. Though such shops are a vital part of town centres, they too are in danger of closing if they do not get the necessary business to support them – even with volunteers generously donating their time to help.
Younger buyers are internet savvy, which is why virtually all retailers now have an online web presence, usually with their own webstore. They need to reach these new demographics.
Selling on Amazon can help you keep up with the shifting trends in shopping.
2. Your customers use Amazon regularly
Around the world, there are over 310 million active subscribers on Amazon, 100 million of whom have signed up to Amazon Prime. That’s a huge number of customers who value the service Amazon provides.
A huge number of customers who you could be selling too.
According to a survey by PWC, over three quarters of UK adults who have browsed for items online have said Amazon has influenced their shopping behaviour. Almost half use it to regularly check prices.
If your customers are using Amazon to look up products and compare prices, you’ll want to be on there. As a charity shop, you’ve probably got lots of amazing items for sale at great prices that these customers will want to buy – you just need to show them.
3. Amazon Marketplace is big, but it’s easy to use
Amazon Marketplace is the part of Amazon where anyone can sell their own goods – individuals or businesses. Around 50% of all Amazon sales comes from third-party sellers on the Marketplace.
There are 13 different Amazon marketplaces based on geographical regions, with over 5 million sellers registered and listing products. Hundreds of thousands of sellers in the UK use Amazon Marketplace to increase their profits every day.
It might sound daunting, but signing up and listing products is actually very simple. You can get started as a seller on Amazon Marketplace in just a few minutes. Then it’s just a case of adding your listings.
Shopiago makes it even easier to list products too, streamlining the Amazon process and finding lots of the information you need automatically.
4. Stop bargain hunters from capitalising on your profits
Charity shops offer lots of amazing bargains, there’s no doubt about that. Wander around any store and you’re sure to find some incredible items at great prices – as everyone knows.
There are certain types of individuals who are keenly aware of this fact, and you’ll know exactly who they are.
They purposefully come to charity shops to identify items that are under-priced, checking and comparing products online. They’ll then buy these items, and then sell them online themselves for a profit.
Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with these bargain hunting entrepreneurs, they are taking away profits from your charity.
Items are donated to your store on the principle that your charity will benefit as much as possible. By selling on Amazon yourself, you’re making sure that you get that profit, and not someone else.
5. Sell in multiple places and reach more customers
Your charity store will always be limited by the numbers of customers it can possibly reach. A town – by its very definition – only has a certain number of residents: up to 20,000 for a small town, or up to 100,000 for a large town.
There are only so many eyes you can get the items in your charity shop in front of.
But by selling on Amazon as well, you’re suddenly able to reach millions more customers with very little effort. You can still sell the items in your own physical store, but you’re giving people who might not live nearby the opportunity to buy as well.
Of course, many charities are concerned about selling in multiple places, and the possibility that they may sell an item in two different locations at once and not be able to deliver on this sale.
That potential problem is easily solved with software like Shopiago, which lets you sell the same item in several different places – your own webstore, Amazon and eBay – and automatically updates the other listings when its sold in one place. You don’t need to worry about it still being advertised when a customer has bought it. Simple.
6. Reach customers abroad who might want specialist items
One of the great features of selling on Amazon is that you can reach customers abroad. Customers who might be looking for specialist items they can only find in charity shops like yours.
Customers who may be willing to pay a premium for these goods and could generate more profit for your charity.
They may collect quaint British items like tea sets or Royal paraphernalia, or be after branded items that can only be found in the UK.
When you sign up to the Amazon UK Marketplace, you get automatic access to sell across the EU on amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.it, and amazon.es. You currently don’t need to do anything special to be able to sell goods in your charity shop to customers in these European countries.
If you wanted to reach an even wider audience, there are several other marketplaces you could join as well, in countries like the USA, Canada and Australia – but you would need to carefully consider shipping costs and logistics in those circumstances.
7. Get more money for your items
As we touched upon earlier, if you sell items in your charity shop online you can expect to make more money from them than the average price they sell for in store.
That’s because you’re tapping into a larger market, one that’s built on supply and demand. There are buyers out there who really want what you’re selling and are prepared to pay for it. Selling on Amazon makes it easier to reach them.
Better still, if you use software like Shopiago, it will actually scan all current and previous listings on several eCommerce websites to find out what kind of prices the item you have usually sells for.
Rather than your staff guessing what someone might pay for it, the software tells you exactly how much people are paying for and suggests the optimum price for you. You can rest assured knowing that you’ve made the maximum profit possible from your goods and generated as much money as you could for your charity.
8. Clear stock quicker and easier
One of the biggest challenges many charity shops face is the amount of stock they have. Donations are always welcome, but the generosity of many local residents can often overwhelm smaller stores.
But if you sell on Amazon, you’ll find it easier and faster to clear stock. You can quickly list all your items and thousands more customers will be viewing them and wanting to buy – far more than could ever get through your shop’s doors.
You don’t need to worry about creating a website to sell your stock on, and you could even just leave all your stock in a large storage unit once you’ve listed it. It doesn’t have to be on display in the shop somewhere if it’s listed online.
Amazon even has opportunities for you to promote and advertise your items, if you have large amounts of stock or a collection of several of the same items that you need to sell quickly.
9. You could even promote your AmazonSmile affiliation
AmazonSmile is a recently introduced scheme by Amazon that allows customer to choose a preferred charity when they shop through the smile.amazon.co.uk portal. Amazon then donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (of all eligible goods) bought through that channel to the designated charity.
Originally there were only a select few of the big charities that customers could choose from. However, now any charity can join AmazonSmile as long as they are registered and in good standing with the relevant authority.
You don’t have to sell on Amazon Marketplace to register for AmazonSmile.
But if you are registered as a seller and are listing goods, potential buyers will see your charity more frequently. You can remind them about AmazonSmile and encourage them to list your charity as their preferred choice.
The downsides of selling on Amazon
Although there are many benefits for charities who choose to sell donated items on Amazon, there are some downsides to the giant marketplace too.
You’ll have to pay fees
Unlike eBay, which gives charities a free marketplace webstore and waives fees, there is a price to pay for selling on Amazon. If you register as a business (rather than an individual where you can only sell up to 40 items a month), you’ll need to pay a monthly fee and fees based on what you sell – which varies by category.
There are some things you cannot sell
Amazon has a list of various items that sellers on their marketplace cannot sell. Many are understandably prohibited items, but they are very strict on media items and electronics, and the rules are constantly changing. Brand and product restrictions are something you’ll need to be aware of.
You’ll need to run it like a business
Because there are various fees and regulations associated with selling on Amazon, you’ll need to manage your presence on there like a business, taking care of invoices, deliveries, accounts and customer service.
But Shopiago can help with that. Our multi-channel retail software is designed to help charities of all sizes maximise their profits by selling online, in multiple places.
It streamlines listing processes, automates stock management and pulls all your orders into one single location, so your staff won’t have any problems managing your online, eCommerce business.
They can sell on Amazon, on eBay and on your own webstore on Shopify without any problems.