Person shopping on GoodwillFinds.com on their phone.
GoodwillFinds.com was created by a consortium of Goodwill members who oversee their individual territories, with the goal to eventually onboard all Goodwill members and stores. — GoodwillFinds.com

Why it matters:

  • Sales of secondhand goods are projected to grow 127% globally by 2026. And by 2024, half of all secondhand sales revenue are expected to be generated online.
  • GoodwillFinds, the new e-commerce platform for secondhand goods from Goodwill thrift stores, is using lessons from direct-to-consumer brands and omnichannel retailers to help Goodwill stores improve both their online and store operations.
  • GoodwillFinds holds the potential to become one of the largest online resale sites given the size of the Goodwill network, which operates close to 3,300 stores.

Omnichannel retail veteran Matthew Kaness, with experience at Modcloth, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, and other brands, was tasked last year with giving America’s iconic Goodwill thrift stores new tech tools to compete with the biggest e-commerce resellers.

A big part of the job, he told CO—, was to foster collaboration and communication as members of the Goodwill network embarked on an innovative digital journey.

“A personal motto of mine is, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together,’” he said. “A lot of it is being super-transparent, overcommunicating what you’re doing, and seeking input from all players, because there is a big change-management component from running an analog business to a digital business or hybrid thereof.”

The platform he heads, GoodwillFinds.com, was created by a consortium of Goodwill members who oversee their individual Goodwill territories. It has seen rapid growth since its launch in October and expects to have over one million items listed for sale by the end of this year.

The Goodwill network is made up of 155 regional members. So far, eight of those members, with a total of 360 Goodwill stores, have linked to the GoodwillFinds platform. The goal is to eventually onboard all of the Goodwill members and stores.

[Read: Secondhand Surge: Inflation, Product Scarcity, and New Tech Platforms Fuel Resale Market]

Resale is one of the fastest-growing retail categories. Global secondhand sales are expected to grow by 127% to $218 billion, according to a 2022 report by GlobalData for resale site ThredUp. U.S. secondhand sales are projected to more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion.

Selling secondhand goods since 1902

The Goodwill network of thrift stores was born in 1902 in Boston. A Methodist minister there began collecting used household goods and clothing from wealthy Bostonians and hired needy residents to repair the goods. The secondhand goods were then resold or given to the people who repaired them. Job training and placement continues to be a key part of the Goodwill mission.

Revenue from items sold on GoodwillFinds directly benefits the Goodwill regions where the items were donated.

GoodwillFinds was incorporated by its founding Goodwill members as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Goodwill stores individually have been selling rare or in-demand donated items online for some time, either on third-party sites such as eBay or Amazon, or on ShopGoodwill.com, an auction site for Goodwill items. But GoodwillFinds is designed to help Goodwill stores to take their e-commerce efforts to the next level as a first-party resale site, with access to data and analytics to drive sales.

 Matthew Kaness, CEO of GoodwillFinds.com
Matthew Kaness, CEO of GoodwillFinds.com — GoodwillFinds.com

Leaning into one of retail’s fastest-growing segments

Resale is one of the fastest-growing retail categories. Global secondhand sales are expected to grow by 127% to $218 billion, according to a 2022 report by GlobalData for resale site ThredUp. U.S. secondhand sales are projected to more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion.

According to the report, online secondhand sales are expected to increase fourfold by 2026 and will make up 50% of all resale spending by next year.

As a result, it has become increasingly important for Goodwill member stores to have a sophisticated, unified e-commerce platform in order to compete with other online resellers.

The tech platform GoodwillFinds is building can potentially help member stores better manage their store operations, customer outreach, and online sales, Kaness said.

 Person's hands sealing a GoodwillFinds box with packing tape.
CEO Matthew Kaness shares how the GoodwillFinds tech platform can potentially help member stores better manage their store operations, customer outreach, and online sales. — GoodwillFinds.com

Kaness, who was Chief Strategy Officer at Urban Outfitters, President and CEO at e-commerce brand ModCloth, a Vice President at Walmart e-commerce, and board member and advisor to other retailers and digital startups, shared with CO— the top lessons he’s learned about effective digital transformations:

Hire experts who have ‘been there, done that’

“Bring in folks [who] have been there, done that, because there’s a lot an expert can bring to the table to help you avoid things that aren’t relevant and to focus on the things that are,” Kaness said.

“When there’s something you need to figure out, it’s better to hire an expert and not a consultant,” he said. “You want to have somebody who shares a sense of ownership and pride, who has bought in, and is dedicated and committed. You get a different level of value out of that individual.”

[Read: 4 Smart Strategies That Are Driving Sales in a Slow-Growth Year]

Just get started with affordable tech

“The cost of deploying technology has gotten so inexpensive that with the right experts and leadership, you can do some things, lightweight, to get started, that are not that expensive, and you can learn really quickly what the market opportunity is,” he said.

“For instance, startups can test new products quickly on Amazon, build audiences on Tik Tok, hire chat bots for most customer care needs, and just recently, tap into ChatGPT and other AI-enabled services to much more efficiently execute campaigns, conduct research, build models, even write simple code.”

Look for partnerships: SMBs today can collaborate with ‘the biggest retailers’

Small businesses looking to participate in goals like recycling, waste reduction, sustainability, or job training now have opportunities to partner with the biggest retailers and companies, he said.

“There’s lots of companies like Goodwill, Walmart, Amazon, Target, Google, and Salesforce that have set up global initiatives to help to provide free or low-cost tools to enable various initiatives that small and midsize businesses can take advantage of, not just nonprofits,” Kaness said.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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