Recommerce, the next Ecommerce
By Carmel Fisher, Managing Director
21 April, 2017
As a dedicated fashion consumer, I can't believe I've missed the megatrend of recent years that, according to at least one retail analyst, is set to overtake traditional e-commerce.
Recommerce is, at its core, the buying and selling of used goods. The term is most often used in association with pre-owned clothing and accessories.
Online trading of secondhand fashion has become quite the thing in today's Instagram-fuelled, personal brand-focused world. Consumers who have always been comfortable reselling items like cars and houses are now equally prepared to resell smaller items as well.
Today's fashion consumers buy many more clothes than they did a decade ago. Being able to sell unwanted clothes means you can keep buying.
The social barriers to buying and selling previously worn goods are much lower than before.
Far from there being a stigma attached to used clothing, canny secondhand buying can bestow greater status on a consumer. If you've bought on-trend and cheaply, and given someone else's goods a second life, you're a clever consumer.
Recommerce started in much the same place as e-commerce; eBay dominated the secondhand goods market for years. But, in the last five years, online resellers have seized the opportunity to take over where eBay left off.
Selling secondhand is a different proposition than selling new. Secondhand goods require curating: goods must be photographed, authenticated and checked for quality control. Even if you're paying a fraction of the new price for a Chanel jacket, you still want to be sure it is genuine and in excellent condition.
In many instances, buyers want to know the providence of their secondhand clothing and will pay a premium if the original owner is known for their taste or celebrity status.
It's not just consumers who are jumping on the recommerce bandwagon. At one point last year, there was a veritable avalanche of capital raisings for secondhand clothing start-up companies, many raising tens of millions of dollars to position themselves at the front of a burgeoning marketplace.
So why is recommerce the new best thing?
A number of consumer trends support its popularity. Buying secondhand is appealing if you're a frugal shopper. A lot of consumers have found it hard to shake off the frugality habits developed during recent recessions.
It is also eco-friendly — after all, recommerce is a form of recycling. For younger consumers, recommerce allows them to be part of the constantly-refreshed-wardrobe culture sparked by social media and selfies.
According to Trendwatching.com the recommerce phenomenon is here to stay because of consumers' desire to be part of new and exciting developments (this used to be called 'keeping up with the Jones's').
Buying pre-owned is also said to improve your 'eco-credentials'; growing numbers of consumers get their status fix from being shrewd and savvy rather than through conspicuous consumption.
The trend isn't anti-consumption as such. It's just more considered consumption, where it is smart to get cash or discounts for old or used items and to dispose of things responsibly. There is a big feel-good factor with recommerce that fits well with today's call for more 'human' brands.
Knowing that I'll earn solid eco-credentials and keep up with the Jones's by selling my pre-owned clothes and buying off others with good taste, I recently joined the trend. While I've only investigated Tradesy.com so far, and have yet to transact, I can certainly see the appeal of this recommerce lark.
Savvy, current and eco-friendly. Who wouldn't want to be that sort of consumer?