Goodwill is moving some thrifting online
Goodwill is expanding its online presence, promising high-tech features from digitized receipts to personalized alerts.
Last month, the 120-year-old Maryland-based nonprofit organization launched GoodwillFinds.com — a shopping venture that is making roughly 100,000 donated items available for purchase online.
It’s expanding Goodwill’s internet presence that, until now, had been limited to auction sites like ShopGoodwill.com or individual stores selling donations online via eBay and Amazon. GoodwillFinds aims to offer a million items online in the next year or two.
Spearheading the venture is Matthew Kaness, newly appointed CEO of the online shopping arm, who has 20 years of retail experience.
GoodwillFinds is a separate entity from Goodwill Industries International Inc., but it will support the larger organization by helping fund its community-based programs across the U.S. It will also provide professional training, job placement and youth mentorship.
Its launch should also increase donations, while helping to expand Goodwill’s base of customers.
The Associated Press spoke to Kaness about the online experience and why the venture’s timing is right. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: What makes this venture different from the existing Goodwill online experience?
A: Access to shopping and thrifting on Goodwill will be [easier] online, compared to going to your one store location or trying to go through a sea of items on Amazon and eBay.
The second thing is that because of technology, we’re going to be able to personalize the discovery, the recommendations, the notifications, the email alerts, everything that you’re accustomed to when shopping at other brands.
Q: How will a greater presence online amplify Goodwill’s mission?
A: We are going to be elevating the global story around the impact that Goodwill has. Last year, Goodwill provided social services to 2 million individuals across the country.
Also, last year all the Goodwills diverted 3 billion pounds of goods away from landfill based on the donations received and sold.
Q: Why is the timing right?
A: There’s a reason why secondhand sales are growing eight times faster than the overall industry. Consumers, in particular younger consumers, Gen Z, generally love thrifting from a fashion perspective and from a retail store shopping perspective.
They really care about the impact that their dollars have on the environment — that, coupled with the incredible value that families for 100 years have found [at Goodwill stores], especially during times of economic hardship.
Q: Will this increased shift to online hurt Goodwill’s physical stores?
A: When you are a store-based company and you’re only selling a little bit online through marketplaces, you don’t know who your customer is. You have to reacquire that customer over and over again.
There are so many online competitors that are keeping your customers from getting to your store because they’re making it so convenient for shopping secondhand online.
[Our new site] is going to massively expand the audience and the customer base for each one of our Goodwill members.