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Goodwill launches e-commerce platform

Illustration of a computer with a shop awning on the screen.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Goodwill, the nonprofit group that runs more than 3,200 retail thrift franchises, will roll out its very own online secondhand marketplace.

Why it matters: The resale market is booming as investors pour more money toward the circular economy and purpose-conscious consumers "act" more with their dollars.

What’s happening: The 120-year-old nonprofit is launching the e-commerce platform, dubbed GoodwillFinds, in partnership with a consortium of Goodwill member stores.

  • The six founding Goodwill members launching the platform (and providing the inventory for it) represent about 338 stores in the West Coast and Midwest regions.
  • Goodwill plans to onboard more members every month until the platform taps into its whole network.

Yes and: The nonprofit tapped industry vet Matthew Kaness as GoodwillFinds CEO.

  • Kaness held executive roles at online retailer ModCloth, as well as Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce unit via its acquisition, and Urban Outfitters.
  • Kaness also provided operations and product consultation to lifestyle brand Burton Snowboards.

How it works: Shoppers can browse a curated selection of unique items — Kaness expects over 1 million unique items for sale by the end of 2023 — including clothing, books and home decor.

  • Goodwill’s well-known brand and access to supply through regular donations give the e-commerce platform a big head-start, Kaness says.
  • The commerce marketplace doesn’t own inventory or have a supply chain to manage, which keeps running costs low.
  • Salesforce's Commerce Cloud serves as the marketplace's technology engine, and Goodwill plans to build an integrated tech stack allowing it to more rapidly add items for online sale.
  • “We're configuring and customizing proprietary datasets and everything that you do around building a new digital venture,” he says, adding this is done in conjunction with “very modern customer acquisition and retention techniques."
  • He also hopes to build a business model around this “so that as we scale, our net profits all go back to the local Goodwill that donated and listed that unique item attached to the sale,” he says.

Of note: Proceeds will be used to fund Goodwill members’ social service programs.

What’s next: GoodwillFinds will add more features to make the shopping experience more seamless:

  • The site will provide digital receipts for donations, and allow shoppers to manage their accounts, access local services and make reservations for events.
  • GoodwillFinds will eventually launch membership and loyalty programs and work with influencers to attract more customers, he says.

Context: In 2021, Goodwill generated over $5.4 billion in revenue from donated goods.

  • Much of thar revenue came from its stores, Kaness says.
  • Over a dozen stores had dabbled in e-commerce as well, though this was primarily done through third-party marketplaces, Kaness adds.

The bottom line: “There's this massive engagement opportunity that this platform is going to have over time that provides access to not just shopping, but access to the full ecosystem, the full community impact that Goodwill has,” he says.

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