Last week we hosted our very first virtual conference, and it was a great success! Delegates from small and large charities alike came together to learn and share experiences on the subject of ‘Building Back Better’, after the difficulties and uncertainty the pandemic has presented.
We had three wonderful sponsors who delivered excellent sessions. The Charity Retail Consultancy’s ‘Harnessing the Nation’s New Skills’ focused on how charity retailers can benefit from what we’ve learned during lockdown. Vicki and Jayne opened the conference acknowledging the challenges that we have faced, not only as a human race, but as a sector, and how charity retailers can take the learnings and be more resilient.
Eproductive’s Sonia Fletcher delivered a session in technology in the ‘new normal’ and how we can best use it. She discussed various online selling platforms and the importance of a cross income stream. Sonia gave us lots of photography tips and then the session was rounded off with a Q&A, where she was joined by Tessa Shepherd and Nick Cowls.
The presentation by Acopia was a little different to the rest, shaking things up with a behind-the-scenes video of their operations. Terry Gardner’s key messages were maximising income by strengthening operations and conducting cost analyses, and bringing sustainability back to the top of the agenda. Terry also discussed trading online, and gave delegates lots of actionable insights and tips.
Andrea Woodside from retailTRUST reminded us that we (humans) are having a normal reaction to an abnormal experience (the pandemic), in her session – ‘Taking Stock: Managing your wellbeing during times of uncertainty’. Her extensive knowledge of psychology, combined with her brilliant sense of humour was a great tonic. She explained why it is so important to look after out mental health, and applied it to a charity retail setting.
Matthew Plumridge shared his experience of managing volunteers in his presentation ‘Recruiting volunteers and keeping ahead of the competition’. Matthew discussed the recruitment strategy of where and how to recruit people to help in charity shops, giving practical ideas, from advertising to on-boarding. He also highlighted some ways to reduce classic mistakes, and tips on creating some quick wins.
Kat Maclennan from Dot to Dot VM led an incredibly inspiring talk on visual merchandising, looking at how to encourage customers into stores despite the new barriers imposed by the pandemic. Kat explained that people still long for the in-store experience, and armed us with practical tips on how to create a safe and exciting environment using displays in store. She spoke passionately about making connections with local people and businesses, strengthening the community and bringing people together.
The last conference session was a panel discussion, made up of Robin, our Chief Executive, Sarah Coles from the Hospice of St. Francis, Catherine Shuttleworth from Savvy Marketing and David Longmore from Barnardo’s. The panel discussed retail strategy, and in particular, where we go from here. They debated what the future holds for the charity retail sector and the elements needed to succeed over the coming months. Other subjects included Christmas 2020, volunteers, the High Street, online trading, sustainability and equality.
All of the sessions were excellent, incredibly thought provoking and shared lots of tips in order for charity retails to #BuildBackBetter. We really hope that everyone enjoyed it and was able to take some learnings back to their respective charities, thank you all for taking part! The recordings and slides are being made available to attendees later this week.
Many congratulations to the winners of the amazing Conference Prize Draw. The winner of Acopia’s Street 76 pine furniture is Vicki Benson of Oak Tree Animals’ Charity. The winner of Eproductive’s full day’s Retail Gift Aid review and consultancy with Sonia Fletcher is Lawrence Eytle of St Michael’s Hospice, Hereford and the winner of The Charity Retail Consultancy’s full day of their services is Gary McMillan-Dale of LOROS.
Our next Conference, The NEW charity retail, is occurring 17-19th November, and will take a look at the sector in the context of the ‘new normal’.