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Conscious Consumerism & E-commerce Trends Changing Face of Salvos Stores

Media release:                                                                                           15 September 2021

Conscious Consumerism & E-commerce Trends Changing Face of Salvos Stores

Consumer trends towards more sustainable purchasing and e-commerce are changing the face of one of Australia’s most well-known charities.

The Salvos Stores are reporting significant growth in a segment of customers which are purchasing donated goods from its local stores as a way of reducing the impact of their purchases on society and the environment, also known as conscious consumerism.

In addition, a new digital innovation hub developed by the charity is providing ways to meet the needs of increasing numbers of Australians who purchase products from the organisation’s digital platforms.

Australian’s love of e-commerce is also benefiting the charity in other ways with the Salvo’s largest corporate donor now an online bed retailer - which donates millions of dollars in returned mattresses each year. 

Brian Hallett, corporate partnership manager for the Salvos stores, says the organisation’s funding model has evolved as new customer niches emerge. 

He says they have three customer segments in their retail stores; treasure hunters and collectors, environmentally conscious consumers who want to give products a ‘second life’ before they reach landfill and their traditional customer - in need of a hand up as they struggle to meet their day-to-day expenses.

“The Salvation Army provides a wide range of community outreach programmes throughout Australia - ranging from homelessness, domestic violence support, addiction counselling to youth support.

“The demand for our services has surged in the wake of COVID-19, particularly with increases in homeliness, domestic violence and an increase in unemployment seeing more than 53,000 job seekers needing support to find work.

“To fund these services we have turned to our innovation hub to help us maintain our revenue streams across digital platforms during lockdowns.

“We have a presence on eBay supported by a team of staff and  volunteers that look for higher-value donated items to retail online - including gaming consoles, jewellery and even Lego sets which are trending at the moment,

“What this means for us is that if we are given a rare Beatles album collection or an antique Lalique glass vase we want to be able to auction it off to the widest audience to ensure that donation can help as many Australians in need as possible,” he says.

Hallett says revenue from their digital platforms such as eBay and their own web store is increasing and new business models developed by online retailers have become one of the charity’s largest sources of revenue.

“Digital retail and supplier channels have become increasingly important to us, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

“Our largest donor company is Ecosa which has developed an e-commerce model which allows consumers to try a mattress for up to 100 days before returning for any reason.

“Our partnership model with Ecosa sees us picking up any returned mattresses and distributing them through our retail network of 350 stores.

“We collect over $2million worth of Ecosa mattresses annually which may be anything from a week to just three months old and are now able to provide high-quality, clean mattresses to our customers. 

“It would be unusual for us to accept a second-hand mattress from a household donor for hygiene reasons but the reassurance of the quality mattresses returned after a trial is sufficient to mean we can stock this product throughout our national network of stores,” he says. 

Alice Allen, spokesperson for Ecosa one of the country’s largest online bed retailers, says there has been a surge in demand throughout the country with more time being spent in bed.

She says, as a result, the company has just had its best week of sales in its five-year history - which has also benefited the Salvos Stores as higher sales volumes translates into a great number of donated returns. 

Allen says the Australian market has grown more than 100 per cent per month over the past 12 months and the recent lockdown has accelerated that even faster with a sales record which saw more than 3,000 products shipped in a single week.

“Our partnership with the Salvos Stores has been extremely rewarding for us, they have worked with our team to provide a model which allows our customers to return their trialled product knowing that it will go to support Australian’s in need - rather than going into the waste stream.

“The social and environmental benefits of this relationship are significant, more than 4,290 cubic metres of mattresses, enough to fill over one and a half Olympic size swimming pools, are being deferred from landfill each year and every mattress reused is one that doesn’t need to be manufactured,” she says.

Hallett says the current pandemic has impacted the supply chains and operations of a number of their stores around the country, with Salvo’s outlets in parts of Melbourne, ACT and NSW currently closed.  


High res images can be found here

Written by Impact PR for Ecosa. For more information or images, please contact Fleur Revell-Devlin