Consumers are changing how high street retailers operate. Today’s consumers want a convenient and seamless experience. Retailers are meeting this challenge through technology, an example is tablets as they proliferate in-store, whether it’s a digital portal for customers or mobile PoS for the staff. But, what does all this have to do with charity retail? Well it’s the same consumer, the one that shops on the high street, which also shops in the charity stores. So their expectations are changing. Charities need to look at how they interact with customers’ in-store and beyond and how they can potentially improve the customer experience. Below are some examples of how charities can use technology to help create the high street convenience in charity retail.
Tablets are a versatile and low cost technology that can be used in a variety of ways by charities, to improve the customer experience:

  • Signing up donors at the till point for gift aid often involves completing paper forms, hopefully legibly, for the charity to input into their system later. Why not do this electronically with a touchscreen tablet at the till point? Using postcode look up ensures you get the right details and massively speeds the process up as they simply tick a box. It also saves time and money at head office if donors can simply sign up with a touchscreen tablet at point of sale.
  • Many charities have experienced a drop in donations in terms of quality and some quantity. To counteract this charities are making more collections, whether it’s a house clearance or collecting bags and larger items. When doing this charities will have drivers ask donors to complete paper forms to consent to gift aid, so again why not do this electronically with a tablet, saving administration time at head office.
  • Arm volunteers with tablets at charity events, such as a midnight walk or a 10K run, to make it that much easier to to sign up supporters to gift aid.
  • The format of charity stores is changing, there are now more large format furniture and electrical stores. Giving staff tablets so they can walk round with customers reserving and selling items, arranging deliveries and taking payments, gives the consumer the best possible ‘high street’ service.

Another technological tool includes barcodes. This may sound obvious nowadays but many charities still rely on handwritten prices, meaning the till operator has to input the price and category whilst recording gift aid details (if it has been gift aided) at point of sale. By having barcodes, staff can simply scan the item and take the payment. This means the price is always correct at the till point, as is the recording of what was sold (in terms of category) and the donor ID. Barcodes also prevent label swapping in-store helping to cut down on fraud and speed up transactions at point of sale.

Charity retail has evolved in recent years with many charities deploying EPoS systems. What’s important now is taking that technology to the next stage by making it easier to use in-store for staff whilst also meeting and exceeding customer expectations, this will help ensure the customer keeps on coming back. Tweet us@charity_store to let us know your views.

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