Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tacoma Goodwill and Online Sales

Bill Kaufmann visiting the Living and Working in a Virtual World class last week, and the discussion centered around e-commerce. Back in 1999 Bill founded ImprintSTORE.com and built out the business around both corporate logo specialty items (think golf balls, pens, tote bags), and the potential of e-commerce. In 2004 it merged with CorpLogoWare. CorpLogoWare also provides custom imprinted products for corporate events, promotions, gifts and work place apparel.

His experience in online commerce made for good conversation, but the bulk of the discussion centered on the topic of what takes up most of his time these days.

He is E-Commerce Manager for Tacoma Goodwill Industries and www.MyGoodwillStore.com.

Shopgoodwill.com is the first Internet auction site created, owned and operated by a nonprofit organization. It was created and is operated by Goodwill of Orange County (Santa Ana, CA), but Bill is responsible for the build out and success of the Tacoma Goodwill’s efforts.

As the site information provides, “In 2006, there were more than 600,000 unique items posted on the site from 73 Goodwills across the country. And Tacoma Goodwill finished first in total sales, items posted and items sold.”

The Tacoma stores total sales were second to an Oregon based store not long ago. This was partly because of a watercolor painting by Frank Weston Benson which sold at auction for $165,002 dollars. The painting was anonymously donated to the site, with bidding on the shopgoodwill.com website starting at $10, and increasing after the work was authenticated. So don't think small when thinking what might be for sale.

A team is in place that determines what goes on the online auction site and how many times it gets posted if it doesn't sell at first. For each item, there is a cost associated with photographing and describing the item, so it has to have an inherent starting value.

Bill likes to talk about the idea that sales and management of sales still goes on in a very traditional fashion behind the scenes. He refers to this as the Brick and Click of e-commerce.

It is also, according to Michelle Kaufmann (no relation to Bill) a very green thing to do.

I’ll mention one last note of interest, if you are looking to check the shopgoodwill site out. If you buy something online, they will deliver it to a Goodwill store near you, so you can simply pick it up as opposed to paying shipping charges. Not only is this more convenient, but it often means additional sales at the Goodwill store it was delivered to.

And that means additional support of their mission of changing lives by helping people with disabilities or disadvantages go to work.

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