Waste Not, Want Not

Anna Otieno, Head of Research, Strategy & Insights

Carli Gernot, Content Development Specialist

What’s Up

Circularity is an established topic in the apparel space — in 2022, 82% of Americans said they bought and sold pre-owned items — approximately the same number of those who own a smartphone, as per OfferUp’s Recommerce Report 2022 Holiday Update report. In 2023, the notion of secondhand buying and selling as a new approach to ownership will become a regular part of the retail machine across categories. According to OfferUp, 76% of items bought and sold pre-owned are not apparel and instead fall into the categories of electronics, furniture, home goods, home improvement, sporting goods, outdoor equipment, and auto parts.

With inflation and rising prices impacting consumers of all income brackets, secondhand buying and selling have become a more affordable option for shoppers unwilling to go without new-to-them purchases. The same OfferUp report finds that 93% of Americans say inflation impacts their decision to buy and sell pre-owned goods, with a growing focus on making and saving money driving reCommerce itself.

Brands and businesses have been focused on making it easier for consumers to find and access secondhand items. Late in 2022, Amazon partnered with the luxury resale platform What Goes Around Comes Around just in time to appeal to holiday shoppers who were more comfortable buying secondhand than ever before. Earlier in the year, Poshmark introduced online authentication tools to verify designer items, and Balenciaga’s recent collaboration with Reflaunt is positioned to facilitate trustworthy reselling. Even Goodwill has moved into the online luxury and designer resale space with the launch of Goodwill Finds and Trove a platform that facilitates the logistics of resale for brands.

More business leaders are realizing the attraction resale holds for shoppers: According to thredUp’s 2022 Resale Report, nearly three in four retail executives say they have or are open to offering secondhand goods to their customers. Of all brands surveyed, brands offering second-hand resale have increased by 275% since 2020.

What It Means

Secondhand shopping has been propped up by environmental concerns as well as budgetary considerations. Modern reCommerce highlights not only these concerns around climate and sustainability in that they promote reduced waste, but also consumer desire to support systems that prove to be sustainable and attempt to mend wasteful ways. Consumers can make the most of their spending by investing in a circular system that has the potential to provide for them beyond a single interaction.

Further, retailers and brands have expanded the opportunity to engage with customers. After an initial purchase, the mainstreaming of reCommerce and the normalization of buying with the intention of reselling in the future means that a customer relationship is one that can be revived and renewed in a potentially endless cycle of buying and reselling. For shoppers, it allows their investment in products — new or secondhand — to hold ongoing value.

And for companies, this cycle lets business leaders learn more about their clientele and act in partnership with customers who are more likely to come back and spend again. In 2023, brands and businesses will find improved success when circularity and reCommerce are integrated into offerings well beyond apparel and fashion.

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