Back to Blog

6 Tips to Optimize Your Holiday and Year-Round Virtual Shopping Mall

Fundraising never ends, and that may be the reason why you are currently looking for new and creative ways to raise more revenue by end of year. With a little creativity and inspiration, you can easily convert an existing auction event website into a consistent revenue generator.


Welcome to the Virtual Shopping Mall!


If you used a virtual or hybrid auction/event website, and it is still active, you already have the tools available to convert it into a Virtual Shopping Mall and start bringing in additional revenue. 


A Virtual Shopping Mall is a repurposed auction website, modified for all year fundraising. Updating it from the event website where you promoted your mission, accepted donations and RSVPs for your event, thanked your sponsors and donors, and communicated with supporters is actually a pretty simple process. All it takes is a new “theme”, added items, and promotion! There is no reason for that website to sit dormant until you start planning your next event!


One of the many features of a virtual auction/event solution is how easy it is to edit the pages, add items and pictures, and reset the theme with new colors and graphics. Use your creativity to turn that dormant website into a year-round profit center, until you need it again for your gala. You'll have a Virtual Shopping Mall all year generating revenue. 


If you don’t have an event website, get started here.


Where will you get items to sell?


This is the exciting part! Some solutions will provide you access to literally hundreds of items available on a consignment basis, at absolutely no risk. There is no upfront cost, and you pay nothing unless something sells! All you need to do is copy and paste the descriptions from the supplier’s website to your Virtual Shopping Mall.


You are now ready to promote your Virtual Shopping Mall. Use your social media accounts, email your regular supporters, and collect money from your sales. You can set this up as a silent auction or easily make the items outright purchases (Buy It Now), or you can have some fun with them, and let people bid. It’s up to you.  Make sure your opening bid (or Buy it Now price) is more than your cost. Once you get a bid, or a buy, you’ve made money. The exciting part of this process is you can get great items, in unlimited quantities, and there is no cost, or risk. You only pay when the item is sold. This allows you to provide opportunities for unique items for your supporters, while creating incremental income. In the words of others that are doing this today – this is something I never would have done without these experts, and we are now raising more money – fantastic.

Here are a few examples:


·    A trip to Mexico, valued at $3,500. Your cost is $1,000. You offer it at a fixed price of $2,500. The buyer saves money, and you make $1,500 on each one (and you can sell as many as you want!)  

·    A villa in Bali for a week for eight people, four master suites, private chef, scuba diving, etc., valued at $8,500. Your cost is $4,100. You can sell this for $6,500 and make $2,400 on each one and save your buyer $2,000. 


Remember, these are consignment items, no upfront purchase is required! This is a great way to serve your community of supporters as they make their spring and summer vacation plans. Everyone wins!  


You have access to hundreds of trips and one-of-a-kind experiences, sports tickets, golf vacations, artwork, jewelry, authentic memorabilia, and more through a wide variety of consignment resources, and we can connect you with many of them. You can also augment your Virtual Shopping Mall with donated items. Whether you want to have them as auction items, or available for outright purchase, it is entirely up to you. Be creative in setting up your Virtual Shopping Mall. Remember, you can make your website seasonal, and vary your inventory accordingly. You will also find local stores willing to provide items at little, or no cost. Your Virtual Shopping Mall will be an advertising outlet for your donors. You can even set up virtual stores with your donors’ names and logos. 


So, why do this? 


You have a mission that does not end when your gala is over, right? Further, you have supporters who want to help you all year, correct? So, even though you have ended one fundraising activity doesn’t mean you can’t move in to a different one. Remember, there are many supporters in your circle, and not all of them were able to take part in your last gala. In fact, if you have an extensive mailing list only a fraction of that mailing list participated in making your gala a success. Likely your success was the result of just a handful of supporters from your extensive network. The Virtual Mall allows you to easily pull in many more supporters regardless of their economic ability or geographic location! The Mall is “virtual,” so they just need to know it is there, and you need to make sure their visit is worthwhile!


Now that you know how to create a year-round virtual shopping mall, here are 6 tips to help you launch your mall and optimize your fundraising results:


Tip #1


Make it attractive and easy to navigate. If it looks challenging or requires training to use it, then sales will be hampered. Pictures with links, or a simple menu with only one or two clicks, required to get to the items is great.


Tip #2


Offer an incentive to go there. When you promote it in emails and on your social media platforms, let people know the items are nearly all at special reduced prices. Consider a drawing each week for new visitors. With the right tools, this is easy to track.


Tip #3


Make money before your first sale! How? Have the website sponsored by one, or many, local businesses. Let them know they will get lots of exposure as your Virtual Mall will be heavily promoted to your supporters. Agree to provide hyperlinks to the sponsors’ businesses. If the sponsor is a store or service agree to sell a few of their products on your virtual mall site and have a link to their site for their full catalog of items.


Tip #4


Like with any shopping mall, having a variety of items and a range of prices is key. Variety is more important than quantity. Look for variety within each category of items and have a range of categories as well. Items are easily acquired on consignment with a fixed cost. However, that cost is not payable until the item is sold, there is no downside to having many consigned items in a variety of categories to fill your mall! Make sure to set the Buy Now price (or opening bid if you decide to auction the item) above the cost so each sale is profitable. If you set the Buy Now price below the full value of the item you also save the buyer money, so it is a “win/win” for you and them.


Tip #5


Change the inventory periodically so it does not become stale, and visitors have a reason to come back often, to see what is new. In fact, having a category called “Newly Added Items” would be a great way to get frequent visitors!


Tip #6


Promote heavily on social media, links from your organization’s website, and through periodic emails. It may take several exposures before a potential visitor actually looks at the website, so promotion is a key part of your success!


Closing Thoughts


If you’re interested in seeing a real-life example of Virtual Shopping Mall, and learn how to access and procure consignment products, sign up to have an expert provide you with free consultation and a demonstration.  


Don't delay, you can still make significant impact on fundraising for the giving season!