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Seattle Goodwill ‘grows up with technology’

Business situation

Seattle Goodwill’s retail thrift business – its primary revenue source – relies on a donation-based model. But the aging business systems, comprised of disconnected solutions supported by manual processes, resulted in more time spent on management and support and less time interacting with customers, raising revenue and helping students.

“We were not very customer or employee centric. We needed to grow up with technology,” says Derieontay Sparks, Vice President, Retail Operations for Seattle Goodwill.

“This new technology is really an investment in our employees because it enables them to give that higher level of customer experience. It’s so beautiful to walk into the stores and see employees using the new system.”

Derieontay Sparks Vice President, Retail Operations, Seattle Goodwill

Solution

To address the challenges, Seattle Goodwill worked with Avanade as part of our Technology for Social Good program. In close collaboration through joint workshops and store visits during the envisioning phase, we helped the nonprofit implement a new Microsoft Dynamics-based platform. It consists of four key elements covering the back office, stores and the warehouses.

Point of sale: An upgraded point-of-sale system for the stores was a key technology investment for Seattle Goodwill, but Sparks sees it as something more. “Our employees are what makes us special, so we need to invest in them,” he says. “This new technology is really an investment in our employees because it enables them to give that higher level of customer experience.”

Finance and operations: The finance functionality was implemented across the accounting team, automating processes that were previously done manually. “Purchasing has become seamless now that it’s automated,” says Mai Nguyen, Chief Operating Officer for Seattle Goodwill.

Production Suite: Our Digital Innovation Studios built an application using Microsoft Power Apps to manage the inventory intake process, known as Production Suite. The app is being used to tag thousands of donated items that will be sold at Seattle Goodwill’s 24 stores.

Supply chain management: Getting the donated items to the right stores as quickly as possible is essential. The new system provides a more resilient supply chain with almost real-time visibility into the movement of goods from the warehouses to the stores.

And then came the pandemic

The implementation was a significant project, which was made more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team went from many resources working mostly in person to a smaller group of people working virtually. “We had to shift energies to keep the project moving,” Sparks says. “But it was great to see everyone band together to make it happen.” (For more on how Seattle Goodwill is addressing the pandemic, see accompanying Q&A.)

Results

The new system is being rolled out over a number of months. While it’s still early to assess results, Seattle Goodwill anticipates the following benefits.
  • Efficiency: increased turnaround time from donation to sale
  • Experience: reduced transaction time to only two or three minutes, compared with as much as 10 minutes previously
  • Visibility: improved supply chain visibility to help the organisation make more informed decisions and changes quickly

Beyond these benefits, the new system is part of a broader digital transformation journey.

Find out how we can help transform your organisation with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

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Seattle Goodwill ‘grows up with technology’

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