LONDON: Oxfam, the charity retailer, has emerged as an unlikely champion of online fashion retail, but reframing its image required a careful strategy.

The enhanced traffic to the UK’s first online charity store helped grow overall sales in the eight-week Christmas period to £16.9m - a 1.2% increase versus the previous year.  

Success meant raising awareness on a national scale, James Sutton, Senior E-Commerce Marketing Manager at Oxfam, told WARC. Most people think of the charity’s high street stores when they think of the brand – the challenge was to reach new, younger audiences through channels that the brand had not touched before.

“The online shop was Oxfam’s best kept secret,” Sutton explained. A social campaign, Click for Karma, was key to opening this secret to the public. The campaign reached 9m people on social, to which the brand attributes a 17% increase in traffic to the site.

Christmas 2017 was a tough period for many, as retailers felt the effects of rising inflation and slow wage growth. Even a growth in online sales for traditional retailers could not keep a downward revision of profit forecasts at bay.

“We wanted to target a millennial audience, choosing to reach them where they are: on Facebook,” Sutton continued. The communications plan focused on the “array of products you can find on the online shop and the idea that, by buying from Oxfam, you’re doing something good for others.”

The range of brands available was key to its festive performance. A company statement said high-end brands like Burberry, Barbour, and Gucci were this year’s most searched.

Oxfam’s name in fashion circles was also enhanced recently following the brand’s appearance at London Fashion Week in 2017.  

In addition to the choice (and seriously competitive prices), the kernel of the strategy was to emphasise the good karma that customers would receive in return.

Elsewhere, huge gains were made through the Sourced by Oxfam range of ethical and Fairtrade gifts. The collection, which includes home, beauty, food, and stationery, drew a 123% increase in sales versus 2016.

But online growth is not just the result of digital advertising. Sutton explained that the online shop team continues to work with volunteer-staffed shops across the country to train more staff to list items online and to improve the quality of listings. In addition, Oxfam is investing in technology to streamline and speed up this process.

Sourced from WARC, Evening Standard