Quick take: An iconic thrifting and resale brand is standing up its new model for secondhand shopping with an online marketplace – harnessing the power of Salesforce technology to create personalized, user-friendly shopper experiences.
The nonprofit Goodwill has spent over a century cultivating its unique retail experience. Shoppers wandering the aisles at any of Goodwill’s over 3,000 stores can stumble upon affordable and memorable resale items while at the same time doing something good for their community, just by shopping.
Today, however, thrift stores can miss reaching a large percentage of their audience if they rely on in-store traffic alone. That’s why recommerce — selling previously owned goods through online marketplaces — is a must.
In just the past year, 85% of shoppers in the United States bought or sold previously owned items, and recommerce sales are projected to reach $276 billion by 2028 — a 58% increase from 2002.
By developing a new online footprint, Goodwill also realized it could tap into the massive growing audience of shoppers looking for deals online. And, with inflation high, they knew their affordable product catalog would be attractive to online shoppers, especially during the holidays.
Data from Rob Garf, Salesforce’s VP and GM of Retail, backs this up. “Shoppers, particularly younger generations, are looking for value. We predict that 17% of this year’s holiday gifts — both online and offline — will be from resale merchandise,” he said.
Bringing Goodwill to shoppers online
Just over a year ago, the founders of GoodwillFinds launched their first foray into the branded, fixed-priced, recommerce market after nearly a year of ground-up development in partnership with Salesforce. The online marketplace has already sold half a million items since October 2022, and is expanding rapidly.
Built on Commerce Cloud, GoodwillFinds.com gives consumers a modern, easy-to-use digital interface where they can shop a curated catalog of unique finds from Goodwill locations across the country. The platform launched with four local Goodwill affiliates, and intends to expand this online catalog to feature goods from 40 locations by next year, and eventually with all 154 affiliates.
This was a big change for Goodwill. “We weren’t able to sell directly to consumers through a fixed, unified catalog before this,” said Matt Kaness, CEO of GoodwillFinds. “This venture has amplified our brand story in the market and engaged a younger generation by meeting them where they are already shopping.”
This venture has amplified our brand story in the market and engaged a younger generation by meeting them where they are already shopping.Matt Kaness, CEO, GoodwillFinds
GoodwillFinds augments the in-store experience with a modern, online thrifting experience, including detailed filtering where users can sort by brand, condition of the item, and even themes such as ‘70s Retro’ or ‘Vintage.’
“We worked with GoodwillFinds to make it really easy for customers to browse based on things like brand or color in a way that is hard to do when shopping in person, so it creates an experience that’s unique and delightful,” said Michael Affronti, GM and SVP of Commerce Cloud at Salesforce.
The impact of personalized marketing and commerce
When a customer comes to GoodwillFinds, they expect to find gems in the form of vintage baseball cards, graphic tees, or a designer bag. Kaness shared his joy of online thrift shopping, which includes being able to quickly discover well-worn denim labels in his size, or shopping for vintage accessories for his teenage daughter. “I’m a fashion nut, so I love seeing vintage labels commingled with newer brands on the site,” he said.
What customers may not expect to find is a comprehensive, personalized journey that goes well beyond the checkout screen.
Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud and Einstein technology provide GoodwillFinds with comprehensive customer data profiles so they can seamlessly follow data from marketing campaigns to commerce transactions, and drive retention and engagement through personalization.
“Salesforce delivers first-party data that empowers us to communicate directly with our customers and create digital shopping experiences that drive increased return shoppers,” Kaness explained.
Salesforce delivers first-party data that empowers us to communicate directly with our customers and create digital shopping experiences that drive increased return shoppers.Matt Kaness, CEO, GoodwillFinds
With over 600,000 — and growing — unique profiles of active customers and prospects, GoodwillFinds maintains regular contact with an engaged audience, totaling nearly a million emails sent per week via Marketing Cloud. In addition to regular messaging, Salesforce tools have provided GoodwillFinds with automation capabilities that send abandoned cart alerts and new arrival notifications to relevant customers.
Having a data profile for each customer means that every one of these messages can be personalized by name, business, browsing history, and customer type such as reseller or collector. Through alerting customers of rare finds, recent listings, and promotions that are relevant to them, the company has already seen 40% of revenue come from repeat shoppers.
Harnessing the power of data and trusted AI
Commerce Cloud also features pioneering predictive AI features, which Goodwill is using to power functions such as product recommendations and personalizations to encourage repeat customers for GoodwillFinds. It also tracks what filters are used the most and what categories customers are searching for that don’t already have a filter, allowing GoodwillFinds to constantly iterate and improve the shopping experience.
Key stats from GoodwillFinds' first year
products sold on the first day alone.
of revenue from repeat shoppers.
affiliates with their catalog on the site, expected to grow to all 154.
Of course, setting up an online storefront isn’t enough to be competitive in the resale space if the price isn’t right. With a catalog that will scale with millions of active items that all stand alone, accurate and competitive pricing of goods is a critical challenge. Commerce Cloud, backed by AI, intelligently analyzes transactions to help set pricing strategy across the site, making GoodwillFinds affordable and user-friendly.
“Sixty percent of our customers are Gen Z or Millennials, and they are turning to recommerce sites that have fixed prices. We are building a platform that allows Goodwill to dynamically compete and win,” continued Kaness.
The intelligent analytics in Commerce Cloud that helps set recommendations for fixed pricing has allowed GoodwillFinds to establish a new model that is comparable to competitors such as ThredUp and Poshmark, appealing to customers who value clarity and simplicity when making purchases.
Before price is determined, however, the process starts with a new item being donated to a participating Goodwill. That local donation center then follows a filtering process to identify the online merchandising potential. From there, qualifying donations are sent to a central processing facility where they are photographed and assessed for condition.
Once the distribution logistics are sorted, GoodwillFinds can recommend initial pricing and generate a description for the listing with Commerce Cloud.
Business as a platform for change
Salesforce has given Goodwill a whole new wardrobe of digital functionality that not only benefits its shoppers, but also the brand as a whole. “When you consider the direct benefits to individual customers as well as the velocity of the goods moving through Goodwill’s system, you really see how Salesforce technology has had a positive impact on both sides of the equation,” said Affronti. “Salesforce was founded with the idea that business is a platform for change, and this is evident in our work with Goodwill.”
When you consider the direct benefits to individual customers as well as the velocity of the goods moving through Goodwill’s system, you really see how Salesforce technology has had a positive impact on both sides of the equation.Michael Affronti, GM and SVP of Commerce Cloud, Salesforce
While providing exceptional, digital customer experiences through recommerce has been a game changer for Goodwill, Salesforce technology has also allowed the company to get closer to their environmental impact goals and spread their message of sustainability to eco-friendly shoppers. In 2022, with the help of GoodwillFinds, Goodwill diverted 4.1 billion pounds of usable goods from landfills.
“Most consumers aren’t aware of the massive environmental impact that Goodwill has pioneered for decades, as well as our mission to transform lives through the power of work,” said Kaness. “When you couple that with a modern digital shopping experience, we think environmentally and socially conscious consumers who have a lot of choices of where to shop will choose to shop with Goodwill.”