Salvos stores are experiencing significant growth in a segment of customers who purchase donated products from their local stores in order to reduce the impact of their purchases on society and the environment, also known as conscious consumerism.
In addition, a new digital innovation center developed by the association offers ways to meet the needs of a growing number of Australians who buy products on the organization’s digital platforms.
Australians ‘love of e-commerce also benefits the charity in other ways, with Salvos’ largest corporate donor now an online bed retailer, which donates millions of dollars in returned mattresses each year.
Brian Hallett, head of corporate partnerships for Salvos Stores, said the organization’s funding model has evolved as new customer niches emerge.
He said they had three customer segments in their retail stores: treasure hunters and collectors, environmentally conscious consumers who want to give products a “second life” before they reach the market. landfills, and their traditional customer – who needs a helping hand as they struggle to meet their day-to-day expenses.
“The Salvation Army offers a wide range of community outreach programs across Australia, from homelessness to support for domestic violence, drug counseling and youth support. Demand for our services has increased in the wake of COVID-19, particularly with increasing homelessness, domestic violence and rising unemployment, with more than 53,000 job seekers needing help finding labor, ”said Hallett.
“To fund these services, we turned to our innovation hub to help us maintain our revenue streams on digital platforms during shutdowns. We have an eBay presence supported by a team of staff and volunteers who research higher value donated items for retail online, including game consoles, jewelry, and even popular Lego sets. fashion right now.
“What this means to us is that if we receive a collection of rare Beatles albums or an antique Lalique glass vase, we want to be able to auction it to the widest audience to ensure that the donation can help. as many Australians in need as possible. “
Mr Hallett said revenues from their digital platforms such as eBay and their own online store are increasing and new business models developed by online retailers have become one of the association’s biggest sources of revenue.
“Retail and digital supplier channels have become increasingly important to us, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Our biggest corporate donor is Ecosa, which has developed an e-commerce model that allows consumers to try a mattress for up to 100 days before returning for any reason, ”he said.
“Our partnership model with Ecosa allows us to collect all returned mattresses and distribute them through our retail network of 350 stores. “
Salvos annually collects over $ 2 million worth of Ecosa mattresses, which can be as little as a week to three months old, and is now able to provide its customers with clean, high-quality mattresses.
“It would be unusual for us to accept a second-hand mattress from a donor household for hygienic reasons, but the assurance of quality mattresses returned after testing is sufficient to mean that we can store this product in our nationwide network of stores, ”he said.
Alice Allen, spokesperson for Ecosa, said there had been an increase in demand across the country, with more time spent in bed.
She said that as a result, the company has just had its best sales week in its five years of existence, which has also benefited Salvos stores as higher sales volumes translate into a large number of donation returns.
Ms Allen said the Australian market has grown by more than 100% per month over the past 12 months and the recent lockdown has accelerated even faster with a sales record that saw more than 3,000 products shipped in just one week.
“Our partnership with Salvos stores has been extremely rewarding for us. They have worked with our team to provide a template that allows our customers to return their tested product knowing it will go to help Australians in need – rather than going into the waste stream, ”she said. declared.
“The social and environmental benefits of this relationship are significant, [as] more than 4,290 cubic meters of mattresses, enough to fill more than one and a half Olympic-size swimming pools, are removed from landfills each year and each reused mattress does not need to be manufactured.
Mr Hallett said the current pandemic has impacted the supply chains and operations of a number of their stores across the country, Salvos outlets in parts of Melbourne, ACT and with NSW currently closed.