British Red Cross Story

Boosting online sales for the British Red Cross’ charity shop network

The British Red Cross carries out life-changing work in the UK, and around the world. The charity’s mission is to help anyone, anywhere to get the vital support they need when a crisis strikes. From supporting refugees and victims of modern slavery, to helping people struggling with loneliness, the work of the British Red Cross is needed today more than ever. The charity started using Shopiago to increase online sales revenue from its network of charity shops, and improve the efficiency of its e-commerce operations. After a successful trial, the British Red Cross is now busy training staff and volunteers across its network of 300 charity shops, with the aim of getting them all selling online by the end of 2021.

Shopiago
Shopiago

The Challenge

Like most charities, the British Red Cross was wise to the benefits of selling donations online, and had been managing the listing and selling process manually for several years. The e-commerce team originally started working with around 20 charity shops, and set up many systems from scratch using Google Sheets, inventories, and other manual processes.
However, when the number of British Red Cross charity shops using e-commerce increased to around 150, the overall volume of online sales also grew - and as a result, it became increasingly time consuming to list, sell and report back using the established processes. Alongside this, the charity was also trying to cope with a backlog of donated items that needed to be listed and sold online.
An additional challenge was that the e-commerce team wanted to go multi-channel in their sales - not just focusing on eBay, but selling donations across multiple platforms. In short, they wanted to sell wherever people were buying. 
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Supporters who donate to our shops are so generous - we need to ensure we get the best possible value for their donations, this way we honour their kindness and raise as much as possible for our vital work in the UK and globally. Selling online is a fantastic opportunity to reach more buyers from all over the world and achieve higher values for donations.

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Vicky McGirr, E-commerce Manager at the British Red Cross

The Shopiago roll-out

Vicky McGirr, e-commerce manager at the British Red Cross, started to look for a solution and found Shopiago, which offered a bespoke online platform tailored to their needs. Shopiago also provides the British Red Cross with support and guidance through their customer success team, offering training and development when required.
Importantly for the British Red Cross, Shopiago has charity retail at its heart - it has been developed for the charity sector, based on a 20 year legacy of e-commerce expertise from World of Books Group. For example, most charities need to list many individual items, rather than multiple items of the same SKU - Shopiago makes this process easier and quicker.
At the start of the roll-out, the Shopiago team conducted online training with the British Red Cross e-commerce hub team. Shopiago also trained the shop teams, carrying out multiple training sessions so the teams could get online and start using the platform quickly. In addition, Shopiago provided detailed training guides to the e-commerce hub, and more straightforward guides and step-by-step videos to the shop teams.
Shopiago’s platform offers integration with Cybertill, which the British Red Cross were keen to integrate with in order to reduce their manual workload. The platform also offered visibility at shop level and enabled the shops using Shopiago to see what was happening to their donations, tracking those sales back to their own sales targets.  
Shopiago
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We started by rolling Shopiago out to 20 charity shops and our central online warehouse, and now have well over 150 shops using it. We’re aiming to have all our shops online by the end of the year.

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Vicky McGirr, E-commerce Manager at the British Red Cross

Results

During the first month of implementation, the British Red Cross reduced the average time it takes to list an item from 15 minutes to 8, and plans to reduce this further to below 6 minutes. This has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in volume of online listings, and has also helped to reduce the backlog of donated items.
As well as powering their online sales, Shopiago’s tracking feature has helped the charity to improve logistics and cut carbon emissions. This has ensured delivery vans are always full of donations or goods from the British Red Cross’ corporate warehouse, and that there are no empty return journeys.
Importantly, feedback has been good from the teams. They have found that Shopiago is easy to use and gives them much better visibility of their sales, as well as automatically ensuring Gift Aid is claimed fully for every sale.
The message board has fast become an important feature - allowing shop managers and volunteers to ask questions quickly, and discuss what sells well online with the e-commerce team, as well as other shop managers.
In the longer term, the British Red Cross e-commerce team is planning a path of rapid expansion - selling items on multiple platforms in order to achieve the best prices for their generous donations. The resale market is booming and experts predict that it will overtake fast fashion in just a few years. Using Shopiago, the British Red Cross plans to be right at the heart of the action. 
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We’ve seen huge growth in our e-commerce operations in the last few years - accelerated of course by the impact of the pandemic on everyone’s shopping habits. Shopiago has been a fantastic way to create a strong connection between our shops and e-commerce operations - opening up our online operations to our local customers, and our local shops to our online customers.

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Vicky McGirr, E-commerce Manager at the British Red Cross