Nonprofit retail stores – think thrift stores, Goodwills, and ReStores – need donation items to stay afloat. But they also have very specific POS (point-of-sales) needs that more traditional brick-and-mortar stores don’t have to deal with. Not only are they managing complex and sporadic inventory, they have to arrange donation pickups and figure out how to maximize donation options.
That’s where “tech for nonprofits” startups come into play. One such player making waves in the Southeast is ThriftCart, an all-in-one POS system specifically designed for donation-heavy retailers.
“[Thrift stores] have a very unique business model [compared to] traditional retail,” said Kyle Payton, ThriftCart’s general manager.
In simple terms, Payton told Hypepotamus that ThriftCart combines three distinct software offerings into one: a point-of-sale system, a workflow management system, and a routing optimization system for donation pickups.
“That would be very expensive to have individually,” he said. “[ThriftCart] is all-in-one. That’s very important because we know that our customer base, as a nonprofit, has tight budgets and they work on volunteer staff. So where we’re coming from on a pricing point keeps that in mind.”
ThriftCart’s software allows stores to implement zero-touch donation drop offs, self-service donation kiosks, and even schedule donation drop offs.
The eleven-year-old company was recently acquired by Rain Retail Software, a RetailTech company based in Utah. It is heading into 2023 with a focus on expanding its product suite and even helping more donation-based businesses move into the omni-channel and ecommerce spaces.
Payton added that the company has a “very trusting and loyal customer base” that was fostered through its “very grassroots approach” to building the software and the team. The team has 350 customers that have over 500 physical locations across the country.
Close to 25 stores in the Southeast alone use the software, including Habitat for Humanity stores in larger cities like Asheville, Atlanta, Charleston, and Knoxville.
Creating Change With Change Roundup
Building tech for nonprofits is great, but seeing tangible results for those stores is the real measure of success.
One aspect of ThriftCart that has driven such tangible results for local businesses is its change roundup program.
The question “do you want to round up your purchase to benefit a charity?” is common practice today at grocery or convenience stores. But for brick-and-mortar nonprofits who rely heavily on donations, that process has traditionally been harder to put into their retail workflow.
Part of ThriftCart’s POS system includes a roundup feature that allows patrons to round up to the nearest dollar as a donation to the non-profit organization where they are shopping.
While the startup is headquartered in Utah, its first customer was Habitat for Humanity in Wake County, North Carolina. Since implementing the ThriftCart technology, the location has seen a substantive growth in overall donations. In 2022 alone, Triangle reStores raised over $200k from roundup donations. That will fund the building of an entire house.
The Wider “Tech for Nonprofits” Scene
Nonprofits and thrift stores are uniquely positioned businesses during times of economic flux, says Payton.
“When you have potential downturns in the economy or the middle class is being squeezed by inflation, people’s discretionary income comes under call,” he added. “People are looking to save money, so that tends to lead them to thrift stores.”
It also creates unique opportunities for startups dedicated to building tech for the nonprofit sector. The Southeast region is home to several, including Atlanta-based fintech Infinite Giving and Resilia, a New Orleans-based startup that raised a $35 million Series B (co-led by Atlanta-based Panoramic Ventures) in its efforts to “democratize philanthropy.”