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The "Feel Good eBay" you don't know about

Did you know that the Goodwill has sold $1b in goods online since 1999? I certainly did not. Last year, as donations soared and the pandemic took a bite out of foot traffic, Goodwill’s total revenue dropped 11% to $5.7 billion. Sales for jumped 22% to $171 million.

How it works

Initially created in 1999 for the Orange County stores by George Kessinger - but is now available to all Goodwill stores. Functions like a traditional marketplace. Individual store regions function as suppliers that create product listings. With more than 3,300 locations in the US and Canada, that essentially translates to 3000+ suppliers with the potential for either diverse, unique, rare items… or more options for that Patagonia pullover you’ve had your eye on.

Goodwill has reportedly spent practically nothing on marketing or driving awareness that this channel exists. While eBay focuses more on categories, Goodwill tries to highlight the trending inventory and freshness via the site navigation.

Market Opportunity → Introducing “Re-commerce”

  • Secondhand products represent a $28 billion business that’s expected to more than double to $64 billion by 2024, according to ThredUp, a San Francisco–based online consignment company.

  • Most Gen Z consumers see no stigma in buying secondhand, and 40% have bought used clothing, shoes or accessories, double that of Gen X and Boomers.

  • REI second-hand sales doubled last year. Largely driven by customers 10 or 20 years younger than its traditional member base and twice as valuable

Let’s Make This Better

It would be highly advisable for Goodwill to engage in a moderate redesign of the site to improve user experience. Not everything has to be a big project but here are 4 areas that I believe would quickly pay dividends on conversion rate and revenue.

Improve Google Ad placements + Restructure Product pages

Right now it feels like the ad placement is detrimental to the user experience across the entire site - but especially on the listing detail pages. Category pages seem largely unaffected since the ads are limited to the top and bottom and do not interrupt the tables.

Here is a sample listing page for a Patagonia sweater.

Improve shipping partners

Most listings seem to estimate cost based on FedEx. It is prohibitive to spend $16 shipping one sweater. Great opportunity to partner with a company like Shippo or Shipstation that support all the major shipping players and integrations.

Multi Item Basket

I’d be interested to see the feasibility in building out a shopping experience that would increase average order value (AOV). Enabling users to more easily add items to their cart could decrease order processing costs and improve inventory sell rate.

  • 70% of the items on site are eligible to “buy it now” *

  • Can’t purchase “buy it now” items without having an account → Guest checkout is a popular feature across many ecommerce sites

Even if the shopping basket can’t cross different stores, it would be advantageous to show users other items within that same Goodwill supplier. This would certainly drive an increased order value and inventory sell through rate.


This website is ripe for improvement and partnership. I’m curious why there isn’t a stronger (or any) partnership between Goodwill and eBay. I’d hypothesize it has to do with fulfillment and wanting to control the transaction fees. I might argue that any increases in transaction fees would be negated by an increase in conversion rates.

Personally, I’m thrilled to know this exists. When I find something I like at Patagonia, I generally buy a backup option used from eBay. Nothing against Karen from Ohio, but I will be more inclined to shop knowing the charitable angle from Goodwill.


Are these problems that you are trying to solve for your business? Or maybe you just like to talk about eCommerce and digital strategies? Let’s talk.

This post can also be found on my Substack.


* as of 3/7 8 AM. 372,197 buy it now items and 528202 total items


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