Thriftify to help more charity shops open up online with €500,000 funding

29 Oct 2020416 Views

Image: © Martin Lee/Stock.adobe.com

The platform, which gives charity shops easy access to e-commerce, is planning for growth in the UK market.

Social enterprise start-up Thriftify has raised €500,000 in funding to support its international expansion.

Led by Elkstone Partners and Enterprise Ireland, the financing round will be used to accelerate the roll-out of Thriftify’s platform in the UK and expand current trials with charity retailers there.

Founded in 2018, Thriftify enables charity shops to sell online. The platform has already been adopted by more than 90pc of Irish charity retailers, The Irish Times reports, and the start-up has now set its sights on the UK market.

How Thriftify works

Charities such as the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI), the Dublin Simon Community, the Irish Cancer Society and Oxfam are already selling items via the Thriftify platform. The company said that interest in its platform has increased as Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in repeated closures of brick-and-mortar stores nationwide as well as less footfall as people are advised to stay at home.

Thriftify initially sold items such as books, DVDs, CDs, video games and vinyl on the platform. Earlier this year, its first clothing items were listed for sale online from NCBI, and this catalogue has been growing with other retailers ever since.

When signing up to Thriftify, charity retailers are issued with a barcode scanner and access to a dashboard designed for ease of use by volunteers. In-store donations can then be scanned and valued by Thriftify’s technology, which the company claims has valued more than 2m items to date.

If the item is deemed profitable to sell online, the retailer is given the option to assign the item a shelf number and publish the product to Thriftify’s consumer-facing site, as well as other channels including Amazon. Once the product is sold, shipping is automatically arranged through the platform.

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For non-barcoded items, the platform uses image recognition software. The combination of this with an intelligent pricing algorithm, inventory management, integrated fulfilment, and analytics and reporting features, means the platform can provide a low barrier of entry for charity retailers into e-commerce.

Increasing e-commerce opportunities

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com earlier this year, Thriftify chief strategy officer Emily Beere said that there is a growing market for sustainable, second-hand clothing products. In 2018, that market was valued at $24bn in the US by retail analytics firm GlobalData.

“The largest source of used fashion is charity retail – each year, 12,000 charity shops in the UK and Ireland receive over 150m individual donations, including books, clothing, furniture, CDs, DVDs and more,” Beere said.

“Charities are restricted in their sales channels to effectively commercialise this volume of donations. Because of this, they end up paying for the disposal of valuable items.”

A recent report on Covid-19 and e-commerce from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said that the pandemic has changed online shopping behaviours forever. Out of 3,700 consumers surveyed in nine emerging and developed economies, more than half said they now shop online more frequently.

Consumers in emerging economies have made the greatest shift to online shopping, the survey suggested, and most respondents – especially those in China and Turkey – said they’d continue shopping online and focusing on essential products in the future.

“In the post-Covid-19 world, the unparalleled growth of e-commerce will disrupt national and international retail frameworks,” said Carlo Terreni, president of NetComm Suisse eCommerce Association, in response to the report.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com