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Stock control in a charity shop. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron. Donated goods are the bread and butter of charity retail, but in no other industry is there a huge sense of the unknown; you have no idea what is going to be donated, when it will be donated or where it will be donated to. Could you imagine that happening in Marksies? It just doesn’t happen with high street retail – aren’t they lucky.

Truth is, charity retailers often have a pretty good idea of the stock that’s likely to be donated in each of their stores or donation centres, but it can be difficult to control. Imagine each morning having to trawl through bags of donations and decide which item is best suited to which location, or even if it’s needed. This is where retail software comes in, and boy can it help.

We’ve been saying for a few years now that charity retail is evolving, and its true, there have been so many advancements in the sector, helping retail operations departments work smarter and more in line with their high street counterparts. One trend we’ve noticed is that many people working within these retail departments have experience within high street retail, bringing their expertise with them – one of which is making sure that they have the ability to keep control over their stock, new and donated. Yikes!

Retail management software solves stock control problems, especially software designed for charities. Charity retail systems can unlock the door to being clever with your stock, maximising that all important price point and making sure you capture every penny of Gift Aid that you’re entitled to.

“We have actually removed certain departments from some shops and increased shelving on others. One shop had bric-a-brac contribute to 42% of its sales, which surprised us. We increased shelving for bric-a-brac at that store, and fed all spare stock to it, and as a result its sales have increased by around 10%.”

Colin Wakefield, Head of Retail, St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree Hospices

6 advantages of stock control in charity retail

  1. Right stock, right location. Having real-time visibility of your stock and knowing which items sell best in which locations is pivotal to ensuring your charity shops are stocked with the right products for each location. Increasing shelf and rail space to those items you sell more of can see sales per shop increase, having a massive impact on your revenue.
  2. Full donor history. Keeping your donor details securely on one retail management system lets you view donor activity and see what items they donate on a regular basis. If your charity has a good relationship with particular donors then you could use this to your advantage by sending targeted requests for and always ask them if they have anything they can donate.
  3. Maximise revenue. Makes sense really, doesn’t it, if you’ve got stuff that people want to buy then chances are it will sell. With charity retail, pricing can vary by location. If a shop sells a lot of ladieswear starting at £2.50, then why not increase the base ticket price to £3? You’re likely to still sell the items, even at a higher price, increasing basket value, revenues and more Gift Aid – all because you know your stock and where it is in highest demand!
  4. In depth analysis. Access to real-time stock data and analysis on a regular basis provides you with the ammo you need to see how you can improve sales of your donations and new goods across your whole estate. Perfect for letting you make instant decisions on swapping stock between stores and becoming pro-active towards trends.
  5. Workshop tracking. For charities operating workshops, such as furniture restorations and electrical testing, having this integrated into your stock management system is a huge advantage. If a shopper is looking for a sofa in a certain colour, within just a few moments at the till you can let them know if there is one in the workshop being restored. Plus, if it’s their lucky day and there is, then let them reserve it there and then. You have a happy customer and you’ve made the sale.
  6. High street best practice. This may be stating the obvious but applying high street best practices to stock control in charity shops helps you design your stores around your supporter and donor needs, giving them confidence in your shop and improving footfall.

With all that in mind, implementing a stock management system into your EPoS is a no-brainer for charity retail.

Ready to take stock? Download the free ChartyStore platform brochure to find out how you can make the most of your donated stock.

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