Against a backdrop of slowing online sales growth across the UK retail sector, an innovative new ‘pay what you like’ delivery scheme launched by Oxfam has seen an increase in online conversion rates of 35%.

Oxfam is now offering customers free delivery on goods from its online shop, with the option to contribute however little – or however much – they like towards the cost of postage on a voluntary basis. In the two weeks since the scheme launched, it has already boosted conversion rates from browsers to buyers by over a third.

Since the recession started charities have been suffering from falling donations from the public, both in terms of cash and product, with Oxfam shops seeing a drop in donated goods of 12 per cent so far this year. However, in the last two weeks alone shoppers on the Oxfam online shop have contributed more than £8,000 towards delivery costs through the voluntary scheme.

David McCullough, director of trading at Oxfam, said: “Delivery charges can be one of the major barriers to online shopping, particularly in the current economic climate when consumers begin counting the pennies more closely.

“We are the first organisation to trial a ‘pay what you like’ format for online delivery and it has already proved massively successful. The new scheme has shown that the public still want to be generous when they can, even by donating just a pound or two.”

Launched two years ago, Oxfam’s online shop was the first of its kind and the pioneering project has already raised £9.6m to support Oxfam’s work. The site now stocks a massive 120,000 items, selling everything from second-hand clothes, books and music to items from Oxfam’s Ethical Collection and the popular alternative gift range Oxfam Unwrapped.

Money raised through the online shop is used to support Oxfam’s vital work around the world and any donations, no matter how small, make a huge difference to millions of people living in poverty. If customers continue to donate for delivery at the current rate, the scheme could bring in £150,000 during the busy pre-Christmas period.

A saving of this amount for Oxfam would be enough to provide 30,000 families in Nepal with flood resistant early maturing seeds or to ensure that 50,000 people in impoverished regions of Georgia can receive health care.

Oxfam offers free delivery on all items from its online shop to attract as many shoppers as possible but accepts voluntary contributions to help cover costs. Suggested contributions are based on average delivery costs for chosen products and range from £1.50 for Oxfam Unwrapped goods to £3.50 for products from the Ethical Collection.

Oxfam’s Online Shop can be found at www.oxfam.org.uk/shop

Published on: 12:33PM on 30th October 2009