How Salvos Stores Scaled FulFilment For Australia’s First Online Op Shop

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June 25, 2021

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The Salvation Army is a grassroots organisation that has been providing care for communities across Australia for over 150 years. Its second-hand stores, known as op-shops, raise vital funds for community programs and divert more than 30 million items from landfill every year.

“Our products come from the community through donations, our workforce comes from the community through our volunteers, and really the profits that we generate go back to the community to provide care for those that are really in need in Australia,” said Edwina Morgan, GM Customer and Strategy at Salvos Stores.

After its long history selling second hand goods through its physical stores, Salvos Stores began the journey to ecommerce, first selling on eBay and later launching its Australia’s first online op shop in May 2020.

“Ecommerce has become increasingly popular with customers over the last decade and we’ve only seen this accelerate with COVID-19, now representing 16% of the total retail share within Australia,” Morgan said. “So it’s for that reason that Salvos stores believe it’s more important now than ever to be able to provide great value secondhand items online for customers to be able to access from wherever they are within Australia.”

Scaling Ecommerce Business

Reselling donated items online requires a unique approach to ecommerce and shipping. Once the ecommerce platform was up and running, consumers could shop from hundreds of store locations through a single online checkout. Salvos Stores needed a shipping solution that could help them seamlessly process a growing number of online orders across its store network across Australia.

Parcel volumes more than quadrupled in 2020 (65,000+ total parcels) and Salvos Stores’ online sales more than tripled (+212%) in 2020. The organisation needed a platform to be able to keep up with the demand from both a listing and fulfilment perspective.

Store volunteers hand-pack and send more than 5,000 individual parcels every month, meaning the solution needed to be accessed by multiple users, easy to use and reduce manual labour.

Overcoming The Ship-From-Store Challenge

Salvos Stores selected ShipStation to power its ecommerce fulfillment process, working with an account manager and ShipStation’s technical team to develop a solution that was tailored to their needs.

“ShipStation was the right fit for us because of the ability to ship from multiple locations, to have branded tracking and email notifications, and also they have a great local support team which are always here to help us,” said Lucas Ferrier, Ecommerce Manager at Salvos Stores.

Salvos Stores uses automation rules to assign orders to individual stores. For example when an online shopper purchases items from multiple store locations via the online store, behind the scenes, the order is split into multiple shipments that are assigned to the individual stores where the item is physically housed. From there, the store volunteers pack and dispatch the order straight to the customer within 24 hours.

Salvos Stores’ ShipStation account is integrated with Australia Post accounts for each store, so that shipping costs are automatically calculated in ShipStation and the team can seamlessly generate Australia Post shipping labels in the platform or mobile app.

Shoppers also received customised branded tracking emails and delivery notifications through ShipStation to keep them updated on the status of their order.

Key Benefits

  • Ability to split orders based on location so customers can buy unique second-hand items from hundreds of locations in Australia.
  • Easy-to-use interface and multiple user logins allows thousands of staff and volunteers to quickly and accurately dispatch items from a network of more than 300 stores around Australia.
  • Increased efficiency and accuracy in their fulfilment process, allowing Salvos Stores to scale profitably.

Sustainable And Scalable Success

Since launching, Salvos Stores have shipped more than 50,000 individual orders using ShipStation from over 200 locations around Australia.

“The real benefit has been scalability and being able to continue to set up more users, as we get more stores listed online. Since using ShipStation we’re seeing massive improvements to efficiency and accuracy,” Ferrier said.

Being a user-friendly platform, ShipStation has allowed Salvos Stores to train all team members —paid and volunteers—in eCommerce, many for the first time. Salvos Stores’ managers can monitor KPI compliance across all sites using the ShipStation app.

Salvos Stores has optimised its fulfilment process to scale its new online store profitably. The organisation is able to list thousands of unique second-hand items online each week from hundreds of its physical stores across Australia. It plans to continue to grow its online footprint, bringing more stores online to list and dispatch more unique items every day.

“ShipStation, for us, came at a perfect time. It’s going to be a massive part of our business,” said Deb Patrickson, Store Manager at Salvos Stores.

Discover how shipping supports Salvos Stores mission to allow Australians to shop online and discover unique second hand items from locations all around the country.