Recommerce: an opportunity for Brands?

Avatar for Wouter Maatman

Buying or selling a second-hand washing machine, furniture, or game, so-called recommerce, via an online marketplace like eBay, Marktplaats, and Vinted is common for almost anyone. Nowadays, many online retailers sell used or refurbished products as well. By the way, selling returned products are not understood as recommerce.

Buyback trend

Interesting is the transition from C2C ​​to C2B, whereby a company integrates a buyback service into its business model. For example, Zalando launched “Pre-owned,” a new category in its webshop, last year. Here, customers can not only buy second-hand products but also offer their own clothing for sale to Zalando as a company. For the buyback by Zalando, you need to send a product photo and information about the quality of the garment. After a check, Zalando will let you know if they want to buy your clothes and what kind of return you can expect. You can choose from a Zalando voucher or a donation of the amount to a good cause. In this way, the company naturally focuses on customer loyalty and maintains control over the range and yield. On a manufacturer level, buyback schemes are already in place as a loyalty tool for decades.

Is recommerce the next big thing?

The success of Zalando’s Pre-owned and online platforms like Vinted shows that recommerce is hot. Other examples are Designer Vintage, Rebelle, Swopster, and The Next Closet. There is so much demand for fashion-oriented recommerce services that there is enough room for other platforms to add recommerce to the mix.

Key things that improve the success of Recommerce

What factors are driving the success of recommerce? Firstly, the lockdowns due to COVID-19 made people stay at home longer than ever before. With loads of time, it’s easy to take photos of second-hand items and sell them online. Moreover, why spend money on your outfit if you are not going out to show it off?

Secondly, financial uncertainty. The COVID-19 measures have shut down entire sectors. Of course, earning some extra money by selling your unused stuff is excellent, but this does not fulfill your wish to buy new products. Order a refurbished laptop instead of a new one saves you money, and still, you have a warranty on these products.

Thirdly, sustainability. Buying second-hand products save you money and are hot in terms of climate changes. Consumers are opting for sustainable and fair products nowadays, and companies need to adapt to this in their product content, packaging, and delivery to generate a smaller CO2 footprint.

Finally, the digital life. People are now depending on e-commerce and are innovative. Why sell your products only on one platform instead of multiple platforms to increase the chances of selling your items faster?

According to a recent study, the second-hand market doubles within the next five years. With consumers becoming motivated by sustainability rather than price, luxury items’ second-hand sales will shake up the recommerce industry. Is it an exciting opportunity for brands to open up their own recommerce marketplace to turn second-hand shopping into an exciting shopping experience? Maybe a good idea for Tier1 Asset (T1A) and Fairphone.

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