What is recommerce, and what is its future?

03.07.2023 Katarzyna Zajchowska

With tons of textile products thrown away each year, we need a more sustainable approach to buying clothes (and other products as well). Our landfills are literally filled with products that are still in good condition and could easily be reused by someone else. That’s, in short, what the circular economy is about. And there is one trend within it that we want to discuss today – recommerce.

Recommerce is a term coined from two words – reverse and commerce. In short, it’s all about selling and buying second-hand clothes and other products instead of buying new ones. To show you the importance of this branch of commerce, let’s have a look at some facts:

  • According to Waste Reduction Week1, an average person throws away 37 kilograms of textiles each year.
  • According to Earth.org2, in America alone, an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste – equivalent to 85% of all textiles – end up in landfills on a yearly basis.

The result? Landfills overflowing with cheap clothes, usually made mostly of polyester. In Accra, the capital city of Ghana, there is a huge landfill that’s mostly made of unwanted clothes (estimations are clothes constitute 60% of the landfill’s content).

Obviously, all these clothes and other products are a big threat to the environment. That’s why there is an urgent need for more sustainable solutions. And that’s where recommerce steps into the game.

What is recommerce?

Reverse commerce is all about selling pre-owned products, especially clothes (fashion recommerce). The idea itself is not new. The Salvation Army began its thrift shop work in 18973, and today, there are thousands of thrift stores offering second-hand products, primarily clothes but also sporting equipment and household appliances. Recommerce simply digitizes this approach to shopping and moves it to the online world. 

Any examples? Some time ago, Zalando started offering pre-owned fashion products. Their offer comprises over 400,000 products!

Source: https://en.zalando.de/pre-owned-womens-shop/

And then, there is the Vinted mobile app that’s also all about buying and selling pre-owned clothes. According to Statista4, this app has registered over 34 million downloads in 2021 alone.

Today, thrift shopping is no longer something poor people do. On the contrary! This trend gets traction as people begin to understand how important it is to keep our planet clean. According to Recommerce Report, as much as 82% of Americans now buy and sell second-hand goods.

Source: https://recommercereport.com/

Interestingly, the majority of them prefer to use online recommerce stores and marketplaces. Moreover, the same source indicates that 63% of shoppers always or often check second-hand buying options before purchasing brand-new products.

What are the benefits of recommerce?

Recommerce is beneficial to both sellers and buyers. Sellers can offer rare or high-quality products, thus attracting many customers looking for good deals. Moreover, it’s a good opportunity to reach more eco-conscious customers (there are more and more of them) and diversify your offer.

On the other hand, customers can find great deals for just a fraction of the original price. Additionally, thrift stores (both brick-and-mortar and online) are usually filled with products that are no longer available in the market. Many of those products are in good shape, and after cleaning them or throwing them into a washing machine, they can serve the new owner for many years to come.

What is the future of recommerce?

In a word? Bright! The market study shows this branch of trade is growing exponentially. The source we’ve already mentioned indicates that recommerce is projected to grow 5x faster than the overall retail market! By 2027, it’s projected to grow by 80% and hit $289 billion.

Source: https://recommercereport.com/

We can expect to see more online stores and marketplaces offering second-hand products. And from the environmental perspective – that’s definitely a good thing!

What does it mean to you?

If you operate in a sector that’s suitable for second-hand products, think about introducing them to your offer. You could create a separate section on your website with such products and promote it among your customers. Start with something small to see whether your customers would be interested in buying these products, but the global market data clearly shows they usually are!

It’s a good idea to expand for companies selling:

  • Fashion products
  • Sporting equipment
  • Household appliances
  • Home and garden equipment
  • Furniture
  • Electronics 

So, the market is quite large! Think of recommerce as an interesting way of standing out from your competition and attracting customers with a more eco-friendly outlook. This direction is certainly worth a shot, especially given it doesn’t require any significant investment.

If you run an online store on Magento and you’re thinking about introducing recommerce to your offer, we’re here to help! Just reach out to our team, and we’ll take care of the rest.

1 https://wrwcanada.com/en/our-themes/waste-reduction-week-daily-themes/textiles-tuesday

2 https://earth.org/statistics-about-fast-fashion-waste/

3 https://www.trvst.world/sustainable-living/fashion/history-of-second-hand-thrift-shopping/

4 https://www.statista.com/statistics/1308579/vinted-app-downloads

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