Thrifting on a Mission

GoodwillFinds reimagines purpose-driven secondhand shopping

BUSINESS
ENVIRONMENT

As concerns over climate change and inflation increasingly influence consumer choices, secondhand shopping, with its combination of sustainability and affordability, is revolutionizing retail. In 2022, the US online recommerce market, which comprises all resale and thrift transactions, was valued at more than US$77 billion and is expected to more than double by 2028. As relative newcomers like thredUP and The RealReal clamor to offer secondhand deals on everything from fast fashion to haute couture, established brands are rushing to capitalize on shifting preferences (30 percent of major retail brands now have resale shops—up from 8 percent in 2020).

But, for Goodwill, sustainable secondhand selling isn’t some hot new trend—purposeful thrifting is central to the nonprofit’s ethos. Goodwill has helped drive the circular economy for more than a century, keeping billions of pounds of goods in use every year. And unlike resale companies and consignment shops, all earnings from Goodwill’s thrift sales go directly to supporting its mission, providing professional training, job placement services, youth mentorship, and more to local communities. However, its member organizations (regional groups of Goodwill members) lacked a unified, intuitive recommerce platform that could attract new demographics, forge stronger customer connections, and capture the increasing portion of the used goods market that takes place online.

To fill that void, Astound Commerce collaborated with GoodwillFinds, a newly incorporated thrift D2C marketplace licensed by Goodwill, to create an inspiring new platform whose proceeds would support community-based programs across the US. We leveraged our unique end-to-end capabilities in commerce, digital marketing, and design to create demand for GoodwillFinds in paid media channels, like search marketing and email, and convert that demand onsite with compelling shopping experiences. We then used best-in-class analytics to continually optimize the end-to-end experience, boosting conversion rates on product pages over time.

CHALLENGE

Astound needed to create a modern ecommerce shopping experience that could ingest and display the vast array of nonstandard merchandise across all Goodwill outlets in an approachable, intuitive, and exciting storefront. The platform had to accommodate hundreds of thousands of one-of-a-kind donated items that needed to be photographed for quality control—each of which would sell out quickly. In addition, it had to account for separate merchandising processes for different types of items (books and media versus clothes and furnishings) and offer the ability to cross-sell on Amazon and eBay. Because the new marketplace is led and funded by Goodwill’s member organizations, the platform also required buy-in from a large number of stakeholders accustomed to operating independently and the ability to support sales from more than 150 regional members.

STRATEGY

From our first meeting, we recognized that GoodwillFinds’ project went beyond creating a secondhand platform—it was an opportunity to reimagine what purpose-driven thrift shopping looked like. Starting with the selection of the URL, we collaborated closely with GoodwillFinds on high-level strategy and vision planning to ensure the platform would stand out in a crowded marketplace and appeal to member organizations nationwide.

Based on in-depth market research, we devised customer personas who would be drawn to GoodwillFinds’ unique combination of community-minded sustainability, affordability, and originality. We outlined brand pillars that captured different aspects of GoodwillFinds’ ethos and targeted audiences ranging from socially conscious Gen Zers to fashion-forward upcyclers to inflation-pinched treasure-hunters. We defined the types of content necessary to appeal to each demographic and created a modular framework that would ensure the brand’s mission would integrate seamlessly into the shopflow.

EXECUTION

We designed a new thrifting platform that connects GoodwillFinds’ unique and transformative mission and sustainably driven recommerce ethos with a modern, intuitive marketplace. Integrated with rich brand content designed to create a community of socially conscious shoppers, the user experience is consumer-led and MarTech-enabled, allowing GoodwillFinds to build deeper relationships with like-minded consumers. We leveraged Salesforce Marketing Cloud, display media, SEO platforms, and analytics to design and deploy targeted content modules to engage and re-engage customers across channels and devices.

Using Launch360 (our Salesforce accelerator), we built and customized the site to support vast quantities of individual products, remove items quickly after every purchase, and refresh multiple times daily. To facilitate a seamless shopping experience, we leveraged Einstein to display similar products to customers and added relevant filters to the navigation. At launch in fall 2022, goodwillfinds.com hosted more than 100,000 unique products, each with an inventory of exactly one. The original platform supported sales from four Goodwill member organizations and is set to scale quickly to include more regional Goodwill members throughout 2023.

“Astound has been a great partner to us in developing this new and reimagined concept around purposeful thrift. Through the development of a modern secondhand marketplace platform, we are excited to expand and increase the impact of our community programs.”

—Beth Monda, Interim CMO, GoodwillFinds

RESULTS

Since October 2022, the new purpose-driven recommerce platform has helped fund Goodwill’s social programs and further its mission of sustainable thrift.

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