Consumers are constantly looking for more and more convenient ways to shop. It’s predicted that by 2024, 88.4% of UK shoppers will be doing so online. And the pandemic only increased consumers’ need for online shopping. 

Physical stores and charities go hand in hand, so this sector in particular was hit particularly hard by the lockdown. So how did they adapt to these changes? And with lockdowns coming to an end soon (hopefully for good), is there still merit in adopting this kind of approach?

How the pandemic has impacted shopping habits

Due to the pandemic, online shopping saw its largest year-on-year growth since 2007, rising by 36.6%. And 46% of UK customers bought products they’d only previously purchased in-store. But while online shopping soared, footfall in charity shops decreased dramatically. 

With lockdown ending, you might think in-store sales will catch up to online, but that’s not necessarily the case. In-store sales will increase, but probably not to what they once were. A recent report suggests the pandemic accelerated shifts in consumer behaviour by five years. And it seems unlikely that we’d take a step backwards when consumers have been converted by the convenience of online shopping and click-and-collect services. 

How are charities adapting?


Many charities are now offering online alternatives to make up for lost footfall in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, Seven out of ten large charities now sell their products online, and third-party sites are particularly popular in the charity sector. 

Charities such as Cancer Research, RSPCA, Comic Relief, and many more have taken to websites like eBay for a new way to sell their products. Though the issue with using third-party sites is that charities don’t always receive 100% of the profits. That’s why many, like Oxfam, have created their own Ecommerce sites to drive sales, either on their own or as a combination of both.

How OpenCart can help


OpenCart is one such Ecommerce choice that charities could use. But it can cause issues when it’s completely separate from your usual operations. What you want to be able to do is have your OpenCart site integrate seamlessly with your current setup.

With a simple click of a button on your website – such as a “shop now” button – customers would be directed to your OpenCart site. And unlike other third-party platforms, it would be customisable to match your charity’s branding. On the back-end, it should synchronise with your system, allowing you to track sales and manage stock.

That’s the ideal solution and makes OpenCart the obvious choice. We’ve seen how important this is for charities, which is why we’ve made sure integration with our CHARiot system is simple. You can do all of the above and compare your online and in-store sales at a glance, completely hassle-free.

Online shopping isn’t going anywhere, lockdown or not. There’s no better time to ensure your online platform meets the needs of today’s consumer. If you can create a quality online experience, you can keep bringing in the money you need to really make a difference.

If you are looking to make the most of your online offering, Charity Retail Systems can help. From setting up an OpenCart site to integrating it with your pre-existing system, we can ensure you’re in the perfect position to draw as much value from your donors as possible. To find out more, send us an email to [email protected] and we will be happy to help.