What's old is new nowadays, as retailers resell returned items online and in stores. According to data analytics and consulting firm, GlobalData, the market for secondhand goods is estimated at $43 billion in 2022 and is forecasted to grow to $82 billion by 2026.
There are several reasons why reselling goods, also known as recommerce, is popular these days. For brands, recommerce expands the lifecycle of existing products and supply chains and helps retailers reduce waste and recover the cost, especially as returns increase in step with e-commerce growth.
For example, Best Buy has opened 19 outlet locations, with plans to open more and sell clearance and end-of-life inventories. As noted on a recent earnings call, the retailer has a team that quality checks and repairs products for resale. According to the CEO, Corie Barry, "We see twice the recovery rate of our cost-of-goods-sold when we sell open box, clearance, and end-of-life inventory at our outlets versus alternative channels." Best Buy also sells clearance and returns online as well.
Many consumers are turning to recommerce as a means of prioritizing sustainability. During the company's Q2 earnings call, Barry told analysts, "We continue to operate the most comprehensive consumer electronics & appliances take-back program in the US, collecting more than 2.5 billion pounds since 2009."
The nonprofit agency, Goodwill, diverts about three billion pounds of goods from landfills into retail and recycling annually. That's about three percent of the furniture, apparel, and other durables that Americans tossed out in 2018, according to its annual report.
Indeed, reverse logistics technology provider Optoro estimates that about six billion pounds of returns end up in landfills each year.
Meanwhile, other consumers are searching for deals when it comes to recommerce. Inflation and economic uncertainty have consumers looking for a bargain and, as such, are frequenting retailers such as Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Tuesday Morning and online retailers such as eBay and Amazon's Amazon Warehouse. However, Goodwill is perhaps one of the most recognized recommerce sellers, with 3,200 stores in the US and Canada.
Unsurprisingly, many technologies have popped up in recent years to assist retailers in reselling goods. ThredUp, for example, bills itself as an online thrift store. However, it also offers what it calls resale-as-a-business (RaaS). RaaS is a technology service that allows such brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Madewell, and Oak + Fort to open their own resale website and includes such features as order fulfillment, storage, pricing and payouts, and more.
Trove is a similar solution with REI, Eileen Fisher, Levi's, and Nordstrom utilizing Trove's resell technology. According to Trove's CEO, 65% of consumers want to experience resale directly with the brands.
Another example is FloorFound, a developer of an e-commerce software platform that facilitates retailers' returns and resales of oversized products. FloorFound offers a technology platform for retailers to sell through – FloorFound.store, and its software also links to the retailer's own branded website to provide two avenues for retailers to reach customers. For example, furniture brand Joybird's website has a "New To You" page with listings uploaded and maintained by FloorFound, which also handles the pricing through algorithms.
Recommerce benefits the brand, the consumer, and the environment. As more embrace this growing trend, the spotlight will highlight the need to improve reverse logistics processes for many businesses.
Tony Sciarrotta is Executive Director of the Reverse Logistics Association.The RLA offers various tools, white-papers, and monthly webinars that provide best practices in managing reverse logistics.
This article originally appeared in the September/October, 2022 issue of PARCEL.