eBay is launching a training programme to help charity retailers make the most of e-commerce opportunities.
Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions on retail, some physical charity shops remain closed. This is partly due to reduced footfall on the high street that is expected as a result of social distancing measures.
Therefore, eBay UK is urging charities to embrace online retail as a way to help raise funds in the face of the challenges posed by Covid-19.
It has announced plans to upskill at least 500 UK charities to boost their online sales through its new Charity Connect training programme, alongside giving grants to charities affected by Covid-19.
Charity Connect aims to help charity retailers to build an effective online presence through dedicated customer service, onboarding assistance, promotional support and a tailored eBay training programme.
Charity Connect will begin next month with a series of free weekly webinars for new and existing charity sellers on how to boost sales on eBay, including follow-up one-to-one sessions with e-commerce experts. Training will begin from Tuesday 7 July and is free for charities to book.
The charity initiative follows the blueprint of Retail Revival, a 12-month pilot programme with small businesses in Wolverhampton, where over 60 companies increased sales by 33% on eBay with revenues of over £7m through intensive eCommerce training and support.
eBay has also awarded unrestricted grants totalling £1.7m to the 250 charities on its platform which have been most affected by declines in online sales during the pandemic.
'There is a real need for a continued focus on e-commerce'
Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, said: “We were delighted to see the return of bricks and mortar shopping on 15 June. However, for a number of reasons, not all of our shops will be able to open immediately and so there is a real need for a continued focus on e-commerce as a valuable income stream.
“With this in mind, we expect the Charity Connect funding and training programmes will be welcomed by our members, and we’re delighted to see eBay’s broader commitment to supporting digital innovation within the sector.”
Government innovation fund
A coalition is also calling for government innovation fund to help charities develop a digital-first approach.
Barnardo’s, eBay UK, the Charity Retail Association and NPC are calling for a government innovation fund to help charities embrace online retail and to support new models of digital innovation and service delivery in the sector.
This government fund would mean charities can develop solutions without diverting vital cash from essential frontline services.
David Longmore, retail director at Barnardo’s said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit charities hard, with Barnardo’s losing a third of our income overnight as we closed shops and cancelled fundraising events. Like many others, we have had to innovate quickly and move services online, and we know that a digital-first approach must remain part of our offer, long after lockdown ends.
“Even as we begin to reopen our shops, online income streams such as eBay will be more important than ever. That’s why we’re calling for a Digital Innovation Fund, alongside eBay and others, to help charities embrace online retail and develop the range of services that vulnerable children and families need now and in the future.”
In the UK, eBay powers over 800 charity retailers. It has helped charities to raise £160m since its inception, with over £27m raised last year.