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Consumers are increasingly mindful of what they spend… and what they spend it on. They’re not only seeking value for money, but also looking for products that don’t ‘cost the earth’ environmentally too. It’s no wonder that second-hand marketplaces are growing in popularity – causing a rise in what is now being called ‘recommerce’.

What is ‘recommerce’?

Recommerce is the concept of selling or renting previously owned items through online marketplaces to buyers who reuse, recycle or resell them. This is of course not a new practice – charity shops and sites like eBay have been around for many years – but the prevalence of these marketplaces has increased. So much so that by 2030, the recommerce industry is expected to be worth twice that of the fast fashion industry.1 It has already contributed a staggering £7bn to the UK economy in the last 12 months alone!2

Clothing, jewellery and accessories like handbags dominate the recommerce market, but electrical goods, furniture, tools, party supplies and sports equipment are also commonly found on marketplaces.

Examples of recommerce platforms

Popular recommerce platforms include eBay, Vinted, Poshmark, Depop, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. Rentals are also popular, with platforms like Rent the Runway allowing shoppers to obtain designer clothes on loan.

How are businesses responding?

New research by Barclaycard suggests that as many as 7 in 10 businesses now offer more sustainable shopping options.3

40% of UK retailers have already created a product rental model, while a quarter are looking to set one up. Of those that introduced a rental model, 90% have seen an increase in revenue3 – suggesting this trend is not one to be ignored.

Some retailers are going one step further, scooping up some of the traffic directed towards recommerce platforms by setting up their own in-house alternative. 39% now have their own reselling option in place, enabling customers to buy and sell second-hand items without the need to venture off-site.3

Considering setting up your own recommerce model?

If you’ve been swayed by the compelling statistics around recommerce, here’s what you need to consider before starting your own scheme:

  1. Confirm what can be resold. Depending on what you stock, some items (like skincare or food) can’t be resold. But any product that holds its value (like handbags or tools) is a great candidate.
  2. Decide whether you’re creating your own platform or partnering with an existing one. There are significant time and cost implications associated with building your own platform, but the rewards are likely to be greater.
  3. Establish your quality control criteria. Shoppers still expect exceptional quality, even from pre-loved or rented goods. You may wish to come up with a grading scale (for example, ‘Like New’, ‘Good’ and ‘Needs Repair’) that helps sellers and buyers alike to correctly set expectations.
  4. Create a loyalty programme. You might want to reward top sellers, and even loyal buyers, with a scheme that – for example – gives them a discount voucher to spend in-store for every 10th sale.
  5. Partner with a logistics provider who can handle the deliveries and returns. Recommerce understandably presents some new logistical challenges, so you’ll want a partner that not only understands the concept, but knows it inside out – and can accommodate and advise on the returns associated with a rental model, for example.

Spotlight: Levi’s SecondHand

Levi’s SecondHand is a trade-in programme that “keeps coveted Levi’s in circulation and out of landfills”. Sellers are invited to book a trade-in appointment with a Levi’s Stylist who processes the jeans, shorts and jackets, and gives them a gift card for the agreed value. Potential buyers can then purchase the pre-loved goods at a reduced cost on the Levi’s website.

Levi’s say that the environmental savings from the scheme to date include 244,184kg CO₂e and 47,790lbs of waste. And as the programme is now in its third year, it certainly seems to be generating commercial results too.

“If everybody bought one used item this year, instead of buying new, it would save 449 million pounds of waste. With Levi’s® SecondHand, we’re inviting you to join us in a more sustainable future.” – Levi’s

The recommerce boom seems only set to continue and, with those 70% of businesses already offering sustainable shopping options, those brands who don’t take part are likely to miss out on the commercial rewards. Just make sure you’ve got the right logistics partner in place to support your ingenious recommerce scheme!


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