Mike Phillips describes Brand C as the next generation of charity shops in the UK. The vision is to replicate the business model of TK Maxx. TK Maxx stores offer up to 50,000 items including clothing, toys, and household products from a wide range of suppliers. Brand C would be a store offering a range of products from different charities and would therefore require a joint venture to be established between different charities.
Establishing a joint venture requires co-operation and collaboration at a number of levels. From a commercial and organizational perspective the formation of one charity store is a feasible proposition. However, social and technical barriers will need to be overcome, and it may not be possible to overcome them.
All organizations have a philosophy and organizational culture that forms the corporate identity and influences the way in which the organization operates. The announcement of a proposed joint venture may provoke a mixed reaction from staff in each organization; some may view the proposal favourably whilst others may view the proposal as a threat. As charity organizations rely on volunteers, any action by the charity that may be perceived negatively by its volunteers can have significant consequences for the charity’s sustainability. Proposals for joint ventures must therefore be carefully considered.
Charity shop customers may choose to visit a specific charity shop in order to support their chosen charity, rather than because of the items its stocks. Brand C may increase a charity’s revenue by bringing the charity’s products to a wider potential customer-base. However, it may also adversely affect customer opinion of the charity. The sale of a specific item may depend on the relative strength of an individual’s personal values against their desire for the specific item.
Bar code technology means that it is technically feasible to sell items for different charities alongside one another, however implementing the technology and integrating the information systems to support the collaborative infrastructure may be problematic. The EAN barcode format common in Europe allocates a unique number to an individual retail product variant. The barcode includes a country identifier, manufacturer, item number and a check digit. However, the barcode is intended for mass production and in contrast, typical high street charity shops stock a range of used individual items that have been donated to them. Charities will need to work together to determine how data are encoded on barcodes and integrated into their existing information systems.
Integrating the information systems of two or more organizations is challenging, due to differences in IT architecture, information systems architecture, information architecture and organizational architecture that form the enterprise architecture of each organization. There are therefore a range of socio and technical challenges that need to be overcome to make the vision of a brand C multi-charity store a reality.
For more information about Brand C:
Further Reading: Enterprise architectures are discussed in Chapter 4 and the impact of joint ventures on information management is discussed in Chapter 9.
Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:
Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘Brand C’, 26 September 2014, http://www.managinginformation.org/brand-c/, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]