Small Business Focus: Shop It Forward

How would you like to shop at over 200 brand name stores in a single marketplace where the stores each donate a percentage of your purchase price to a charity of your choice?  Well the latest online shopping site to be launched in Australia – www.shopitforward.com.au – offers you just that!

Designed by Coffs Harbour based entrepreneur Karen Black, the charity mall is one of the first of its kind in Australia.  It is a collective of small, medium and large retailers where online shoppers can not only purchase goods, but raise money for a favourite charity, sports club or school at the same time.

When you enter the website you can search a whole range of categories. These include event tickets, holiday and travel, fashion and accessories, computers and smartphones, health and beauty, home and garden, insurance and professional services and fair trade products.

The donation is funded by the retailer, and with the simple click of a button from the Shop It Forward website, you shop directly from the retailer and your charity receives a portion of your purchase.

Karen, a Canadian by birth, understands the global retail market place and has spent considerable effort securing a range of high profile retailers including international businesses to participate in the program.  Most retailers approached were pleased to be part of a “pay it forward” type arrangement – a trend that is now beginning to grow worldwide.

“I am excited by the number of retailers who are embracing the opportunity to participate in this social enterprise. I am adding new merchants daily which is very encouraging”, Karen said.

Her aim over the next three years is to promote and grow the social enterprise with the goal of eventually raising millions in valuable funds.

“It’s my belief that business can be done differently and that the profit-for-purpose business model can work and make a difference. Shop it Forward is an expression of that belief,” she said.

“I would love to see our local retail businesses also embrace the program. It’s a great opportunity for retailers to complement their existing business model”.

So whether you are a shopper, a retailer or a charity group, by participating in Shop it Forward, you can make a difference in the world.

Invitation to local charities to get on board

Karen is keen to see local Coffs Coast charities register to take part in the program.

There is no fee to register and already there are major charities such as ‘Doctors without Borders’ signed up.

Sports clubs and school P&C’s, in fact, any enterprise with “charitable status” is eligible to sign up.

Karen’s five tips for business success:

  1. Know there will be new challenges and be prepared to embrace them and learn from them
  2. Believe in your business model and be passionate about it. It will motivate you to push thru the challenges
  3. Always be patient, and kind to yourself and others in the process of setting up your business
  4. Thoroughly research your business opportunity to ensure it will satisfy the market
  5. If you are going to undertake something, do it well as quality counts, however don’t get hung up on perfection
  6. Ensure you plan ahead as your business model will take time to actually provide a return to you personally.

Enquiries on Shop it Forward can be made to Karen on 0457 076 924 or email info@shopitforward.com.au

Karen is grateful for the support of many people, including Robyn Simon, Business Advisor with ETC.

Find out more about ETC Business Services or call 6648 5400.

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