At a glance

Thriftify is an online shop aggregating and marketing merchandise on behalf of High Street charity shops (thrift stores).

With thousands of images of unique products to process and quality paramount, the online vendor was spending hours processing pictures and removing backgrounds. Five full-time merchandisers were doing this instead of writing sales copy and optimizing the Thriftify site for customers and users.

After a trial period and stress test during which Thriftify tested on output quality, API integration ease, and customer service, the two companies formed a long-term partnership. exceeded Thriftify’s expectations in all three areas and has been removing backgrounds with 100% uptime and no technical hitches.

Thriftify has found’s team to be approachable and responsive, and the collaboration has allowed the social enterprise to grow five times as big in one year. has been vital in helping Thriftify achieve its environmental and social goals.

" really matched all of our three top criteria and exceeded them. We were able to completely automate the process and ensure that the quality of the images was really high."

Rónán Ó Dálaigh

Rónán Ó Dálaigh

Co-Founder & CEO of Thriftify

Dublin-based Thriftify was founded in 2018. It’s the online charity store trying to change how and why the world shops, connecting charity retailers with consumers who care. Its aim is to make fashion sustainable, circular and impactful so that the money people spend on clothes goes towards good causes. Thriftify believes that a sustainable future is impossible without a circular fashion industry because fashion accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

So they can achieve these goals effectively, Thriftify’s technology turns its charity shop customers from bricks-and-mortar, High Street operations into omnichannel sellers. It employs the leading e-commerce and digital commerce tools and also handles pricing, merchandising, and even fulfillment and customer service, so thrift stores make maximum sales and extract maximum value from their stock.

The challenge

To be successful online, Thriftify needs to provide a standardized solution to its charity shop customer base. A major part of this is displaying products with high-quality pictures. Since each of the thousands of items posted is unique, the social enterprise can’t access store imagery or saved images or make use of barcodes and needs to take photos. They then need to remove backgrounds from the images to have a clean look for the website.

Removing backgrounds is also a requirement for listing in online marketplaces, including Google Shopping which puts a location stamp on items for sale.

“It’s really important for us, as an internal seller, to be able to say, “not only are we listing your items for sale on eBay and Thriftify, we're actually geo-tagging them on Google Shopping,” says Rónán Ó Dálaigh, Thriftify co-founder. “‘This is fantastic for your SEO and your online presence.’”

Taking photos of items and stripping backgrounds was a massive challenge, particularly for a startup like Thriftify. Five people were working full-time on this, spending between five and ten minutes on average per listing, a minute or more per image.

“They're professional merchandisers, and there's no way they should have been spending their time removing backgrounds,” says Ó Dálaigh. “They should be merchandising products. And that consists of pricing research, writing descriptions, and site optimization.”

The team successfully used as a service within Canva to remove backgrounds (because Canva owns One of the merchandisers realized that the background-removal tool was available separately, and management decided to approach the team.

The work

The team thought the service within Canva was great. But, before they formed a partnership, Thriftify needed to ensure that the service met three requirements. The first was that the background removal results were web-ready even if the input images were of poor quality.

“It was about stress-testing,” Ó Dálaigh says. “So, what happens if we submit really bad images? And what happens if we submit really good images? Is the tool capable of handling anything that we throw at it?”

Secondly, the app needed API integration so everything would be fully automated.

And the third was partnering with a company that valued long-term, deep partnerships.

“We’re a social enterprise,” comments the co-founder. “And because we're focused on change and a mission-driven organization, we really wanted to work with someone readily available. We wanted to be able to build a strong connection rather than find that we couldn’t talk to anyone when we needed them.”

Thriftify was delighted with the test.

“ really matched all of our three top criteria and exceeded them,” says Ó Dálaigh. “We were able to completely automate the process and ensure that the quality of the images was really high and the stress-testing was really good. And we were obviously able to build a really strong relationship as well, which is crucial.”

Before and after using
The result

After they struck a partnership deal, achieved everything Thriftify needed.

Over the last nine months, has helped Thriftify remove 90,000 image backgrounds, equating to 22,500 products. Processing time went from more than a minute per image to five seconds, or one listing competed in 25.

As a result, the retailer could put the five full-time staff members on much more valuable tasks. And everything took place without a single hitch from set up to ongoing service.

“I can’t remember there being any issues whatsoever,” says Ó Dálaigh. “I think the API integration was seamless. We got all the API documentation on our team, we were able to just go to work and integrate the solution.”

“And since we've integrated, there hasn't been a single technical issue. There’s been 100% uptime, and that's important to us. This is weird thinking about it because, in almost every order API integration we do, we have to go back and fix and edit things.”

Ó Dálaigh says he has particularly appreciated the quality of the customer experience.

“ definitely feels very much like a startup where you are hands-on and proactive. As a startup, we know what it's like to be giving your customers an absolutely amazing experience. And I think that we've benefited from that at our end.”

The co-founder credits with Thriftify’s success in capturing so much of the used fashion market.

“It’s been a key part of our growth. We have grown five times larger since we started with 12 months ago. And we definitely wouldn't have been able to do that if we had to use our existing solution. Like no way whatsoever. We would have actually stagnated because we would have had to continue to increase the size of the team carrying out manual work.”

And, so, has been able to support Thriftify’s mission of making the fashion industry more sustainable and directing resources to charities.

During nine months of work, has helped Thriftify save more than 113 tonnes of CO2 emission as well as 43,485,600 liters of water in new clothes production. And the social enterprise has generated hundreds of thousands of euros for good causes across Britain & Ireland.

While the e-commerce conversion rate decreased slightly since May 2021, the average order value went up by 141% by May 2022, meaning that customers may buy less, but their order value is now higher than ever.

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