Mindful Business

Recommerce - is it the missing piece to your online store’s growth strategy?

By Miranda from Recurate  • 9 September 2022

Second-hand is no longer seen as “second best”, it’s a trend across the globe and consumers are loving it! Recommerce, resale and the circular economy is booming, so what are you waiting for? Read on to understand why consumers love preloved and how ecommerce brands can easily implement this strategy.

Resale and recommerce grew 25 times faster than traditional retail in 2019 and is poised to hit $64 billion by 2024. It's especially appealing when it comes to high quality, branded goods - perhaps because high quality products last longer and are therefore easier to resell.

In fact, recommerce is happening at highest volumes for mid-priced yet high quality brands like JCrew, Lululemon, Nike and Levis.

“The most sustainable product is the one that already exists.”

This is  a quote used time and time again by Adam Siegel, Founder and CEO of Recurate -a tech-enabled resale service that empowers brands & retailers to establish their own integrated resale platforms directly on their e-commerce sites.

It’s a hard statement to argue with. There have been numerous viral posts on social media exposing heaps of textiles being thrown into landfills, like this one - many with their original tags.

It can be tough to stomach, and it feels directly at odds with those of us who enjoy using fashion as a means of self-expression, but modern brands reselling items maintain the ability to openly explore new (for you) ways to express our unique style. 

What is recommerce and how does it support the circular economy?

“In our current economy, we take materials from the Earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste - the process is linear. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste from being produced in the first place.” - Ellen MacArthur Foundation (source website.) 

Recommerce is just one piece of the circularity puzzle for ecommerce brands. It is the buying and selling of previously owned or worn goods - promoting a closed loop, circular economy to reduce the amount of items ending up in landfills.

The idea is that if we can extend or transform the life of an existing product, we can reduce or eliminate the need to produce a new one.

As brands and retailers face pressures from customers, peers, and regulators to build more sustainable business models, second-hand and recommerce is becoming hugely popular in the apparel and ecommerce industry. This is fantastic news for the planet!

Why should brands themselves be participating in resale?

Sustainable icons like Mara Hoffman and Patagonia are two inspiring examples of ecommerce brands incorporating this strategy into their business model. Mara Hoffman has a pre-owned marketplace called “The Full Circle Marketplace” that’s powered by Recurate and Patagonia has their “Worn Wear” - a standalone store that enables customers to buy second-hand Patagonia online. Conscious shoppers are demanding brands to step up when it comes to protecting our environment and adopting the resale market is a great way to meet this demand and boost customer loyalty. Shoppers are already turning to platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay to resell items they no longer use - to earn a small income and prevent them polluting the planet in landfill at the end of its life. When it comes to shopping second-hand, 74% of people across the globe are shopping recommerce. So, why not direct your customers to resell via your website instead? By allowing your customers to seamlessly resell products on your site, you’re continuing the customer journey, maintaining the value of your products, accelerating brand discovery and receiving a percentage of the sale.

Ecommerce merchants are in a unique position

The secondhand market presents a new opportunity to tap into new data insights - helping ecommerce brands make more informed product decisions which is great for your bottom line and the planet. Different brands are measuring different things and interpreting it in their own way based on what they already know about their product and buyer trends.

Some merchants are using these insights to discover which of their products are most likely to be resold by looking at the number of product listings in a category and comparing this to the number of new purchases by product category.

Meanwhile, other merchants are analysing which products are selling the fastest and at what percentage discount. For example, if you’re selling handbags, they might hold their value in the secondhand market and could still be sold at 90% of the value 2 years later. Compare this to another product e.g. shoes - they might be getting more heavily discounted and don’t hold their value as long as handbags - so then you might consider reselling handbags rather than shoes.

One of the biggest benefits is that when merchants are managing their own secondhand market, they can act as brokers between buyers and sellers. For example, if you know there are certain products in high demand on the resale market, you can reach out to previous customers who have bought that item, nudging them to resell if the item is no longer being worn. Retailers can bring clothes that are sitting in the back of shoppers' closets straight to the hands of new buyers who are looking for a more sustainable way to shop.

What are the other “wins” for brands owning resale?

Introduce new buyers to your brand

Recurate’s Resale Report “Circular Fashion Is Now” showed that the #1 reason for new customers shopping a brand secondhand was that it lowers the barrier to entry for trying the brand for the first time. It enables first-time buyers to try to brand via a pre-owned purchase before trying something new.

Bring customers back

Another big reason brands are seeing the value of facilitating resale, is that it can serve as a lever for building loyalty. If a shopper buys an item they are no longer using, they are being brought back to the site where they previously purchased it to sell it to a new owner. Many times they’re receiving store credit from this exchange, which drives them back to make future purchases with that same brand.

Engage the “circulars”

In their Resale Report, Recurate labeled these individuals who are both buying and shopping in the recommerce loop, “Circulars.” Circulars are frequently refreshing their wardrobe, with 77% of them reselling at least every 2-3 months. They are actively seeking out brands that offer circular models because it allows them to shop with velocity without the negative environmental impact that characterizes fast fashion. 

A common hesitation brands may have is “will this cannibalize my business?” The short answer is, no. Just ask Peak Design, who went as far as blacking out their site on Earth Day and redirecting to their secondhand marketplace. When they looked back at their sales numbers, they saw no evidence of cannibalization.

Grow loyalty

In an environment with so many options, brands are looking for creative ways to make their most loyal customers even more loyal.

Recommerce is a tool that can certainly move the needle here. Beyond lowering the barrier to entry for trying a new brand’s product, 47% of recommerce buyers will return within a month to shop with the brand again. A further, 15% of resale purchases from brands offering pre-loved collections also include a new item.

Whether loyalty is being driven by a brand’s values alignment, or the convenience of providing flexible options (new and pre-owned), recommerce has proven to be a strong loyalty driver.

Get on board with protecting the planet

Being a part of the circular economy is one big step towards becoming a business which aims to protect our planet with fewer items you’ve produced ending up in landfill. However, this is just one part of being a mindful, sustainable brand. It is important to consider the many other ways that you can reduce your environmental impact. From the materials you source to create products and the manufacturers you work with, to the way you deliver products to consumers and the way you communicate your sustainability efforts to the world.


Recurate has been a part of the MindfulCommerce Community from the very start, we have worked together on special panel events, one of which you can listen to on the MindfulCommerce podcast, they’re mentioned in our Sustainability Guide and are listed on our Expert Directory

Join the MindfulCommerce Community to discover more sustainable tech solutions and network with like minded people, and visit the Recurate website to learn more about their resale solution!