What is recommerce?
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is recommerce?
Unlike regular eCommerce (electronic commerce), where new goods are sold online and shipped to customers, this trend is more environmentally friendly. Recommerce, otherwise known as reverse commerce, involves the reselling of previously owned products on resale platforms, either by an individual or a retailer. While the fashion industry currently takes the largest market share of resale items, other goods such as furniture and electronics are growing in popularity.
How does recommerce work?
Recommerce is facilitated through online platforms such as Depop (clothing), Vinted (clothing), Poshmark (high-end clothing), and Reverb (musical instruments). Sellers upload their secondhand goods onto these platforms for buyers to peruse. When a buyer purchases an item, the seller receives a payment, and the platform takes a cut.
The benefits of recommerce
The benefit to buyers is clear: money saved. Brands, on the other hand, can increase sustainability and affordability, and encourage more responsible consumerism. In turn, this can result in more sales. According to Wunderkind’s 2022 Consumer Insights Report, 42.8% of consumers surveyed said they take a brand’s position on sustainability into consideration when purchasing.
Is recommerce the next big trend?
Recommerce is rising in popularity for a number of reasons, the main one being frugality and customers tightening their budgets given the state of the economy. Wunderkind’s 2022 Consumer Insights Report shows 83% of US respondents said price matters most in their purchase.
The threat of recession has changed how consumers spend, as the eCommerce boom of the pandemic is behind us. Three out of four consumers say secondhand apparel is more socially acceptable than it was five years ago, according to ThredUp research. Gen Z in particular advocates for recommerce, pioneering apps such as Depop and Vinted.
How popular is recommerce?
We’ll let the stats do the talking:
- According to a 2022 OfferUp report, recommerce grew 15% in 2021
- Vestiaire Collective and Boston Consulting Group found that 31% of Gen Z consumers are interested in buying secondhand fashion, and 44% say they’re interested in selling it
- The secondhand market is expected to grow 127% by 2026 according to research by ThredUp
- Resale marketplace TheRealReal reports “massive” growth among Gen Z; site visits are up by 35% YoY, while ready-to-wear clothing purchases are up 27% YoY
Will Gen Z boycott fast fashion and move toward recommerce?
While it appears that Gen Zs are the biggest advocates of recommerce, they also have an ongoing love affair with fast fashion (clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and creates the garments quickly and cheaply to meet consumer demand). It’s often thought that Gen Z wants to advocate for sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly fashion trends, however, they’re not always able to afford it. With student debts, increasing mortgage costs, and an incoming recession, Gen Z has a lot of financial shortcomings.
Recommerce offers the benefits of cheaper prices, but fast fashion tempts buyers with new items at even lower prices. Gen Zs are torn between how they want to shop, and how they can actually afford to, but both avenues will likely remain popular in the coming years.
Which retailers are involved in recommerce?
While clothing makes up the majority of the resale market, other goods are starting to emerge on resale platforms. Here are some examples of recommerce sites and their business models.
Poshmark is a resale fashion marketplace. It’s powered by millions of sellers who offer items that represent their personal style and curate looks for their shoppers. The platform is considered more upmarket than the Gen Z favorites Depop and Vinted.
Swappa’s recommerce platform helps users buy and sell their refurbished electronics, offering discounts on items such as mobile phones, laptops, headphones, watches, cameras, and more.
Levi’s is an example of an apparel brand selling second-hand items on its own online platform. Users can resell their used jeans and denim on the app in exchange for Levi’s vouchers. The recommerce platform is kept Levi-specific, unlike some other platforms which choose to resell other brands too.
Reverb’s recommerce platform sells musical instruments and equipment. The marketplace helps buyers list their second-hand musical instruments at the correct price based on their user data, and find high-quality buyers to secure each deal.
How brands can use recommerce to stand out
Recommerce can exist as a standalone platform, but many retailers are opting to dedicate just a section of their website to resale. When offering recommerce, you’re standing out from competitors from an eco-friendly stance, and offering those looking to save money an opportunity to still buy from your brand at more affordable prices.
To keep your recommerce offering relevant, offer purchase incentives, keep on top of current trends, and make the user experience as friendly as possible. And most importantly, let your current customers know that your resale site exists!
Don’t miss out on recommerce
Recommerce stands in good stead for the future, as 56% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. And as price sensitivity grows, so will retail competition between brands. Rather than risk losing customers to other brands at lower price points, consider expanding your business to create a brand-owned resale offering to give your customers something new to be excited about. Act now — don’t leave revenue on the table in 2023.