The Emerging Market of Re-commerce Platforms and The Changing Demands of the Modern Consumer

By Julia Ebelthite

Recently there has been a rise in the emergence and popularity of online re-commerce platforms, especially for fashion items. Reverse commerce refers to the practice of re-selling previously owned items. This can be done by a brand themselves, or by consumers wishing to earn money back from items that they no longer want. Apps and websites promoting the re-commerce of apparel fall into three main categories: renting platforms, re-selling platforms and online thrift stores. As modern consumers become more aware of the negative environmental impact of fast fashion, many are becoming more willing, keen even, to purchase second-hand goods. Re-commerce platforms offer both brands and consumers alike the chance to regain the monetary value of products no longer being used by the original owner.

How Does Re-commerce Work?

Online platforms such as Rent the Runway allow consumers to hire luxury goods, to be returned after an agreed amount of time. This is especially useful if consumers have a special event to attend or have an interest in designer clothes, but do not want to invest in owning them. Also, these platforms offer fashion-lovers the chance to frequently change-up their wardrobe without wasting clothing items that are no longer ‘in-style’. Apps such as Depop, Poshmark and United Wardrobe offer consumers the chance to resell pre-loved clothing easily and conveniently. Whereas websites such as thredUP allow shoppers to purchase thrifted or vintage finds online, offering an alternative to raking through the racks at a local second-hand store.

Why is Re-commerce Attractive to Consumers?

In all, re-commerce platforms allow consumers to pass-on unwanted items, allowing them to avoid becoming waste and promoting the circular economy. For the modern consumer who has sustainability in mind, this offers a new way to shop. Additionally, items are sold for a lower cost than by the original retailers, which is often appealing to shoppers. Consumers are able to get some money back from the products they no longer want, as they would if they had returned the item in the first place. This is especially attractive to shoppers who find that the return deadline on a new item has passed, but they don’t want to keep the item.

Brands and retailers are starting to set up their own resale sites to compete with re-commerce platforms and keep products within their own circular economy, all the while promoting an environmentally-friendly brand image. Aside from adopting a more sustainable returns solution, this is just one more way in which brands are striving towards greener operations.

In short, the rise of re-commerce platforms offers interesting insights into how the demands of the modern consumer are changing and becoming more focused on sustainability. Brands and retailers, always chasing customer satisfaction, are having to deliver on these new expectations. By switching their operations to more greener solutions, whether this be within returns management or the resale of stock, they are rising to meet consumer demands. Finally, by examining emerging markets and shopping habits, we can better anticipate the nature of product returns within that market.

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