The potential of recommerce

Woman packaging second-hand clothes

Woman packaging second-hand clothes

Recommerce The potential of recommerce

Published on 15.09.22 by Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant, Swiss Post

What all began some time ago with the trading of used electronic devices, CDs and DVDs has now become a major part of online retail. We’re talking about recommerce. In short, recommerce refers to the trading of used items online. But it is capable of a lot more.

Smartphones, clothing, handbags and furniture: in the age of digital retail, these sorts of products are especially popular in recommerce. The market for trading in used goods has experienced steady growth in recent years. This is because the demand for sustainable types of living and consumption has increased over the past few years (Statista, 2021). But that’s not all. The exclusivity of some items like bags and clothes, plus their relatively attractive prices, are also among the most common reasons why end consumers decide to buy something second hand (Kantar, 2021).

It is also undeniable that the retailers themselves are compelled to offer this service. Their image won’t benefit if they destroy returned goods, for instance.

Recommerce with electronic devices

Trading in used electronic devices is especially lucrative. This is because it gives large numbers of consumers access to high-quality models at a relatively good price (Netwoche, 2022). This is why Recommerce AG, for example, has focused on trading used electronic devices. In addition to smartphones, tablets and notebooks, it is also possible to buy smartwatches or other accessories in online shops. But owners of these products can also have them sold via Recommerce AG by asking the company to value their device and, if they are happy with the offer, selling it to them. This has proven to be a successful model, as the company has collaborated for many years with reputable partners such as Brack, Digitec and Samsung.

Recommerce with clothing

Trading used clothes, shoes and accessories has also become second nature to the company About You, which trades these products under the name “Second Love”. Their used goods range currently includes just under 350,000 items for women alone, and is constantly growing. The company verifies the authenticity and quality of the clothing, and the condition is stated in the product description. The customer doesn’t have to make any sacrifices and can still benefit from free delivery and returns. The service is currently available from About You in Germany.

If you’re after something a bit more upmarket, then Rebelle’s online shop is what you want. This retailer specializes in buying and selling luxury goods. Its range currently comprises over 200,000 used goods, and the shop seems to be particularly popular for its bags. Unlike retailers such as About You, Rebelle takes a consumer-to-consumer business approach, meaning it primarily acts as a marketplace provider.

Recommerce with furniture

An example of trade in used furniture that has already been spoken about multiple times in the media is the company IKEA, which calls its used goods service “Second Life”. The customer can ask IKEA to value their furniture. If they are happy with the offer, they can take the piece of furniture (already assembled) to their nearest branch. There, a member of staff will inspect it, and the final repurchase price will be paid out in the form of a voucher. The company will then sell on the used furniture in the circular hub. IKEA promotes its “Second Life” programme with campaigns like “Buyback Friday”, where the repurchase price is doubled.

All these examples go to show just how varied the sector for trading used goods can really be. In other words, recommerce is not a short-term trend, but a long-term approach to making an active contribution to the circular economy and making the future more sustainable.

Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant, Swiss Post

Derya Kilic is a digital commerce consultant at Swiss Post. She helps retailers to develop their digital maturity by supporting strategic digitization projects and designing solutions.

Portrait Derya Kilic

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