Emerging Technology Trends in Retail and Recommerce

Once novel technologies, such as e-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and targeted advertising, profoundly reshaped the direct-to-consumer retail industry. Early adopters of these technologies saw exponential growth compared to other brands jumping into the fray later in the game.

Today, computer vision technology, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain solutions, and AI-driven dynamic pricing are on the verge of reshaping the retail experience yet again.

Computer Vision Technology

Advancements in computer vision and machine learning are likely to transform one of the biggest challenges facing retailers: how to identify incoming items. Currently, computer vision is leveraged as a merchandising tool to aid in the identification of similar items. Human intervention is still required though because often this technology can incorrectly categorize an item.

Greg Ferris, Trove’s Chief Product, and Engineering Officer predicts that sometime in the next year, new and compelling computer vision technology will advance beyond grouping products together for merchandising. The predicted solutions will enable brands to narrow a product down to a smaller, more specific set of items that would only require a human a few seconds to categorize.

Ferris’ believes new computer vision technology will transcend back-of-house merchandising programs. This technology will be rolled out to aid in branded recommerce solutions. Brands can leverage advanced computer vision tools with in-store kiosks and via mobile apps, to offer even more accurate and real-time information regarding an item’s trade-in value. 

Several of Trove’s brand partners currently use computer vision technology, powered by Trove, to ease the sometimes-cumbersome task of categorizing apparel that is no longer carried, and thus, lacks a match to a catalog item. At lululemon, computer vision brings together the hundreds of off-catalog pre-worn tank tops they receive and helps sell them under a single SKU on their branded resale marketplace, lululemon Like New.

Beyond categorization, Trove may one day offer a computer vision solution that takes better measurements of pre-worn items, which, thanks to machine learning, is likely to grow more accurate over time. According to Ferris, much of this work is now done manually to account for normal wear and tear and tailoring. But with new computer vision technology, it will be possible to leverage a photograph of a pre-worn item to know its true inseam and waist size. 

Dynamic Pricing Using AI Algorithms

Improved AI-driven dynamic pricing solutions for retailers will offer retailers new solutions to streamline their inventory control processes and pricing strategies in the near term. With dynamic pricing, premium brands will be able to adjust, on a constant basis, the price of their products based on supply and demand levels, overall market trends, and various website and customer metrics, among other factors. 

While Amazon is perhaps the best-known retailer to deploy dynamic pricing, a report by digital commerce consulting firm Vaimo noted that over 20% of companies currently leverage dynamic pricing in their ecosystems, with another 15% planning to do so in the near term. 

Apparel companies will also be able to leverage new dynamic pricing solutions in enticing ways to meet customer preferences. For example, if a retailer is experiencing a shortage of a particular article of clothing that is in high demand, dynamic pricing tools Trove is developing will be able to increase the trade-in value for particular sizes and colors that are missing from inventory. 

In turn, Ferris noted that our partners should expect our offerings to soon provide data for setting a resale price. When deployed, dynamic pricing can help our brand partners to determine an item’s price based on inventory-related factors and other data points, such as website traffic associated with certain styles.

NFTs & Blockchain Technology for Apparel 

Exciting new retail applications of blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens are also on the horizon. In fact, several leading retailers have already shown the power of these technologies to create value for their brands.

A collaboration between celebrated fashion powerhouse Balmain and Mattel’s beloved Barbie brand not only offered ready-to-wear apparel, it also included three NFT avatars featuring Ken and Barbie. The success of these and similar NFT experiments will create new value streams for fashion brands and retailers, as they’ll be able to extend offerings into the metaverse. In particular, brands could leverage NFTs to provide exclusive access to deals or pre-sale events, which helps to increase brand loyalty in the metaverse and the physical world.

Nike has already experienced success by creating products solely for the metaverse. The shoe company developed and sold NFT sneakers, known as CryptoKicks, exclusively for sale on a metaverse platform. Some of the collection’s sneakers fetched over $100,000 on OpenSean, an online marketplace, CBS News reported. According to Ferris, Nike’s experiment demonstrates that brands can leverage NFTs to build and enhance brand loyalty in distinct digital communities. 

These nascent uses of NFT by leading apparel brands underscore the potential for blockchain technologies to revolutionize branded resale. As Ferris reasoned, that is because NFTs, which run on blockchain technology, are akin to a CARFAX. Thus, when embedded into products, NFTs can enhance trust in a brand’s recommerce channel as customers will be able to authenticate an item’s origin and ownership history. These NFTs essentially form a new kind of digital receipt, which may prove especially enticing to retailers selling luxury brands that are eager to show that they are offering authentic products.

Customer Demand & Adoption

While these new technologies will enhance the branded recommerce ecosystem over the long term, customers may need time to adjust to some of the changes brought about by these innovations, especially in regard to embedding NFTs into apparel.

With broader adoption of blockchain and NFT technology by brands and retailers, customers are likely to grow more accustomed to demanding detailed digital ownership records and will come to expect them within the next five years. 

In fact, despite its growing dominance today, the early e-commerce experience may provide lessons for retailers about what to expect regarding NFTs and other emerging technologies. Initial skepticism about the value of e-commerce eventually dissipated as more customers grew accustomed to transacting online and via mobile apps.

We believe that we are about to arrive at an adoption tipping point for these technologies, especially as retailers and customers alike increasingly find value in them. 

On the retailer side, our brand partners will come to rely on blockchain and NFT technologies to verify items upon trade-in rather than cumbersome manual inspections to guarantee authenticity.

We also expect retailers to garner savings through computer vision and dynamic pricing, as these technologies will streamline the inspection and inventory processes. Not only will retailers find these technologies useful, but customers will also enjoy the added convenience provided by computer vision’s ability to offer better sizing information and the ability to sell pre-worn items at a high level if demand is sufficiently high.

Perhaps most importantly, all the technologies enable a wider swath of stakeholders to embrace a circular economy ethos and support other societal values customers increasingly demand.

Technology is the Future of Resale

We believe these leading-edge technologies, with their ability to create value and streamline operations, will drive the widespread adoption of branded resale, especially in the luxury, sneaker, and rare-item categories. Trove, already a leader in scaling resale, is excited to continue investing in and offering these technologies to create an unparalleled Recommerce Operating System for brands looking to create their own resale space.   

Curious about opening your own branded resale marketplace? Speak to a Trove representative today to book your free demo.

Brands with Resale or Buyback Programs

2022 has been an exciting year of growth for branded resale. Across the retail industry, brands—such as Allbirds, REI, and Cuyana—have launched or expanded buyback programs. 

With clothing buyback programs, brands power their own resale marketplaces. Rather than using third-party marketplaces—such as The RealReal or Poshmark—customers can resell and purchase pre-loved items directly from a brand. 

Branded resale empowers shoppers to reject overconsumption and keep their pre-loved goods out of landfills. At the same time, shoppers can purchase pre-worn apparel and gear from brands they love. For retailers, resale as a channel boosts customer engagement, drives sustainable practices, and grows profitability without growing emissions. 

14 brands with Resale Programs 

1. Levi’s Secondhand

Levi’s launched Levi’s Secondhand in October 2020. The clothing buyback program was the “first of its kind” for a denim brand. Customers can trade in pre-loved clothing, buy pre-worn styles, and find vintage pieces.

Customers start by booking trade-in appointments online. A retail associate will inspect potential items during the appointment. In exchange for accepted apparel, customers receive trade-in credits ranging from $5 to $30. If items are “unwearable,” Levi’s will donate or recycle them. 

The program contributes to Levi’s sustainability strategy, which focuses on protecting the climate, rethinking consumption, and building communities. According to Levi’s, buying a pre-worn pair of Levi’s jeans saves approximately 80% of CO2 emissions and 1.5 pounds of waste compared to buying a new pair. 

2. Worn Wear by Patagonia

Introduced in 2017, Worn Wear by Patagonia celebrates the “Stories We Wear.” The program enables customers to resell and purchase pre-loved apparel and gear. 

Customers can trade in clothing by mail or visit a Patagonia store. If items are accepted, customers will receive credit for use in a retail store, on Patagonia’s website, or at wornwear.com. The outdoor brand then repairs and refurbishes products for resale. 

Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative is part of the company’s broader effort to protect the planet—such as its 1% For The Planet and Patagonia Action Works initiatives. According to Patagonia, buying pre-loved garments reduces a product’s carbon footprint by at least 30%. 

3. Like New by Lululemon 

In 2021, Lululemon piloted its Like New program in 86 stores. The majority of trade-ins during its first year qualified as “good as new.” In the Spring of 2022, Lululemon expanded the program across the United States. 

With Like New, Lululemon aims to “keep gear in motion and out of landfills.” Customers bring their pre-loved items to a store and receive a credit towards future purchases.

Like New is part of a larger sustainability strategy for the lifestyle brand, which includes creating a circular ecosystem and using 100% sustainable materials by 2030.

4. Eileen Fisher Renew

Eileen Fisher was one of the first brands to start a clothing buyback program. Since 2009, over 1.9 million pieces have been resold, donated, or remade into new designs. The brand even operates two Renew stores in Irvington, NY, and Seattle, WA. 

The Renew program empowers customers to create a more sustainable wardrobe. A customer can trade in clothing at any Eileen Fisher or Renew store or mail it to the company. The brand will then sort, repair, and clean each piece for resale. For each item accepted, customers receive $5 in Renew Rewards. 

Renew does more than keep clothes out of landfills. The program educates shoppers about the environmental benefits of repairing, upcycling, and recycling clothing to change the industry’s “take-make-waste” model. 

5. Re/Supply by REI

With Re/Supply, REI aims to “reimagine the lifecycle of outdoor gear.” Since its launch in 2018, the program has been a great success. Last year, REI reported 86% revenue growth of its Re/Supply business. In 2022, REI expanded the program to all 168 U.S. stores.

Customers must be Co-op members to participate. After determining whether the trade-in is eligible and estimating its value online, customers can bring pre-loved products to their local REI store. If customers prefer to mail their products, REI will provide a pre-paid label. Upon acceptance, customers receive a gift card via email. The outdoor retailer will then refurbish pre-loved apparel and gear for resale. 

The Re/Supply program is part of a larger initiative to promote a “future for used gear, and life outside.” Last year, the company donated $7.1 million to more than 450 nonprofit partners to “address industry inequities and protect the planet.”

6. Clothes the Loop by The North Face

The North Face is on a mission to “give gear a second chance.” With its Clothes the Loop program, customers can trade in and buy pre-loved outdoor apparel and gear. 

The program is open to customers who are part of the brand’s XPLR Pass loyalty membership program. Customers can receive a $10 discount on their next purchase when they trade in pre-loved North Face gear at participating stores. Currently, the program is only available in the United States and Canada.

Clothes the Loop is part of the outdoor retailer’s mission to “Waste Less Explore More.” As part of its Renewed program, the brand keeps pre-loved, returned, damaged, or defective gear in use. The company also uses scraps of unsellable goods to manufacture its REMADE collection. 

7. Timberloop by Timberland

Launched in August 2021, Timberloop by Timberland is a circular design platform. With Timberloop, the outdoor and workwear brand is rethinking design and manufacturing, focused on extending a product’s lifecycle.

Customers can trade in pre-loved footwear, clothing, and accessories by mail or bring items to a donation box in participating stores. (The retailer also accepts brands other than Timberland.) Upon acceptance, customers receive 20% off one Timberland item. 

Timberland divides pre-loved products into two categories. Whenever possible, the retailer will repair and clean products for resale. If items are unsellable, Timberland will upcycle the fabric and materials. 

8. Madewell Forever

Madewell launched Madewell Forever in 2021 in partnership with thredUP. The program is part of Madewell’s mission to “Rewear, Recirculate, and Repeat.” 

Customers request a Clean Out Kit and mail in their pre-loved items. All labels, including brands other than Madewell, are eligible. Clean-out Kits take up to four weeks to process, and the payouts vary. 

Each pair of Madewell jeans entitles customers to $20 in credit, while the payout for other items ranges between 4% and 56%. Customers can redeem credit in any Madewell store or online. 

9. Revive by Cuyana

Founded in April 2022, Revive by Cuyana aims to give pre-loved Cuyana pieces a second life. The program is unique. Revive lets customers list their small leather goods and bags online.

Users identify products from Cuyana’s product catalog and post them on the Revive website. Although sellers can set their prices, Cuyana will recommend an amount based on the original price and quality of the item. When an item sells, Cuyana sends the user a pre-paid shipping label. Sellers can redeem 70% of their earnings as cash or 100% as Cuyana Credit. 

The Revive program is part of Cuyana’s mission to produce “Fewer, Better Things.” With Revive by Cuyana, the brand keeps its long-lasting products in circulation and out of landfills. 

10. Preloved by PacSun

As part of a partnership with thredUP, PacSun introduced Preloved by PacSun in April 2022. The program is part of its PacSun Eco initiative to reduce the company’s environmental impact. 

Customers request a Clean Out Kit and fill the box with any brands. Once the kit is processed, items will be available for resale on thredUP’s website for 30 days. 

Customers receive a credit when an item sells, redeemable online or in-store. If a product doesn’t sell, the company will recycle it or return it to the customer for a fee. 

11. ReBird by Arc’Teryx

ReBird by Arc’Teryx aims to “get gear back in action.” With ReBird, the brand encourages circularity. According to Arc’Teryx, the production of one of its jackets creates 65% of the product’s environmental impact.

Customers can trade in pre-loved clothing online or in-store. For pieces eligible for “rewilding,” customers receive a gift card of 20% of the original price. If Arc’Teryx deems the item unsellable, the brand will upcycle the materials and fabric into new pieces. 

12. ReRun by Allbirds

Launched in May 2022, ReRun by Allbirds enables customers to trade in and buy pre-loved Allbirds shoes. The direct-to-consumer brand is currently piloting the program in three stores, with plans to expand it across the United States.

Allbirds’ customers can trade in re-worn shoes and receive $20 in credit. The brand will refurbish and resell shoes starting at $59 per pair. If Allbirds cannot resell an item, it will be donated or recycled.

ReRun is part of Allbirds’ “Flight Plan” initiative, a series of sustainability commitments. The footwear retailer aims to reduce its per-product carbon footprint in half by the end of 2025. 

13. Onward by On

On started its trade-in program—Onward by On—in September 2022. Customers fill out a form online with a description of their pre-loved shoes. If the items are accepted, the brand will send customers a pre-paid shipping label by email. After On receives the shoes, customers receive a $35 gift card. 

Upon arrival at the On warehouse, all shoes are cleaned and refurbished for resale. The company will donate or recycle any pairs considered unsellable.  

Onward by On is part of the brand’s initiative for “less waste, more performance.” The brand has taken numerous measures to minimize its environmental impact—including using carbon emissions as raw materials and introducing a circular subscription service. 

14. IKEA Buy Back & ReSell

Ikea first piloted a buyback program at its Conshohocken store in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2021. Earlier this year, the home retailer expanded the program to 35 locations across the United States.

The IKEA Buy Back and Resell program is open to members of its IKEA Family Member loyalty program. Customers submit a form and receive a quote for their pre-loved furniture. After receiving an estimate, customers bring all items to a participating IKEA store in exchange for store credit. The program will accept most furniture except beds, mattresses, sofas, and certain leather products.

IKEA’s Buy Back and Resell program is part of IKEA’s journey to be a circular business by 2030. The Swedish retailer hopes to expand the program across the globe.

Launching a clothing buyback program with Trove

Trove is a white-label technology service that powers branded resale marketplaces directly on your domain. Trove’s all-in-one platform unifies the technology, operations, and analytics to help brands launch and grow clothing buyback programs.

Trove works with some of the world’s most loved brands to keep goods out of landfills—including Lululemon, REI, Allbirds, and Eileen Fisher. In 2022, our brand partners saved over 2 million kgs of CO2 emissions and prevented over 200,000 kgs of landfill waste.

Book a demo today to discover how brands deliver exceptional branded resale customer experiences with Trove. 

Profitable & Sustainable Ecommerce Return Solutions for This Holiday Season

While generous retail return policies help drive sales, brands are seeing a phenomenal volume of merchandise flowing back to their warehouses each year. Shoppers returned about $428 billion worth of purchases to U.S. retailers in 2020, and the impact wasn’t just financial: an estimated 5 billion pounds of goods also ended up in a landfill. 

The holiday season is especially challenging for retailers, as shoppers spend generously on gifts they hope will spark joy. Once presents are unwrapped, however, an average of $158 billion of merchandise, equivalent to 18% of holiday sales, is typically returned, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) data.

Numerous factors are at play when it comes to the high volume of returns. Online shopping is convenient, but products may not meet expectations once shoppers have the goods in their hands.

As noted by McKinsey, brands also lack effective reverse logistics for processing and reselling returns at scale, and there’s little coordination between business functions or ownership of the returns process.

As a result, brands are losing significant revenue and creating massive amounts of waste.

Environmental Impact of Free Returns

Shoppers expect free shipping and returns, taking advantage of a risk-free experience and buying more than they need. It’s easy to add a variety of styles and sizes of apparel to a cart and send back what doesn’t fit, a common practice known as bracketing.

Most shoppers are unaware of what happens to returned clothes. They assume items are put back on the shelf for others to purchase.

The reality is, without the right infrastructure in place, it’s often more economical for companies to dispose of merchandise than to go through the labor-intensive process of manually evaluating items and determining whether they can be restocked.

New and secondhand clothing is frequently shipped to locations such as West Africa and Chile, where it ends up in overflowing dumps.

Discarded clothing is quickly becoming a long-term concern for the planet, especially when made with synthetic materials that don’t biodegrade and polluting chemicals.

Even premium brands such as Coach, Burberry, and Nike have made headlines for destroying new, usable goods instead of finding ways to put them back on the market.

Free returns for shoppers take a huge toll on our environment. As more of these news stories surface, shocked shoppers are taking note of how brand practices affect the planet.

According to a study by ReBound, 57% of shoppers check a retailer’s sustainability policy before making a purchase.

Another 71% understand that free returns are a luxury that comes at a financial cost, and are willing to pay more for sustainable return options.

Financial Impact of Free Returns

What is the financial impact on a company when a customer returns a product for a refund?

The NRF reports that for every $1 billion of retail sales, an average of $106 million of merchandise, or 10.6% of sales, comes back in the form of a return.

Furthermore, according to Optoro data, only 20% of returns are defective.

Returns come with a hefty price tag for businesses beyond the initial lost revenue. Optoro estimates that brands can spend $33 to process the return of a $50 item or two-thirds of the cost.

Companies must pay numerous expenses, such as the cost of return shipping and transporting items to processing centers or warehouses.

Additional staff is needed to examine items and determine whether they can be resold. In addition, delays in customers returning items to retailers can cause goods to lose value, especially near the end of a season.

Returned items may end up being significantly marked down or liquidated, or become excess inventory that must be recycled or disposed of.

The industry is reaching a point where more profitable and sustainable ecommerce returns solutions are needed.

In the following few sections, we’ll look at how businesses can meet shopper expectations and deliver stellar service while maximizing opportunities to recapture revenue from returns.

Strategies for Handling Ecommerce Returns

Returned merchandise causes a financial headache for brands, but when you manage the process efficiently from the shopper’s point of view, you can inspire customer satisfaction and loyalty. At the minimum, customers want:

  • A lengthy return window. It’s in a brand’s best interest to recover items quickly in an effort to get products back on the shelf, but 63% of shoppers expect to have up to 30 days to consider a product and return it, according to a ReBound Returns survey.
  • A timely refund. Once shoppers decide they no longer want a product, they are focused on getting a refund as quickly as possible. ReBound also found that one-quarter of shoppers feel a delay in getting their money back is poor customer service and creates a negative overall returns experience.

It’s worth it in the long run, however, to make ecommerce returns smooth and effortless for shoppers. Research shows that nine out of 10 customers will purchase from you again if the returns process has been easy.

Offer In-Store Returns

Brands with physical storefronts have the ability to offer in-store returns for goods purchased online. This can help drive sales for the 62% of shoppers who say they’re more likely to purchase online if they can return an item locally.

Customers can receive money back as soon as they hand over the item, rather than risk the item getting lost in the mail or a processing error at the warehouse. Some shoppers may also want to see what other products or sizes are available for immediate replacement.

In-store returns also make sense from a business perspective. Staff can collect merchandise and return it to the warehouse in a bulk shipment, which costs less than individual shipping and cuts down on carbon emissions. This type of returns solution also streamlines workflow for staff receiving the returns in the warehouse.

Turn Returns Into Exchanges

Brands can leverage returns into exchanges when assisting shoppers in person. You may need to train customer service teams to better understand how products are related, but it may be possible to capture some or all of the amount of the original sale if you can pinpoint alternate products that satisfy shopper needs.

Staff often begin the returns process by asking if something is wrong with a product, but questions can be phrased to discover why products didn’t meet expectations. You’ll find customers tend to be brief in their responses, but staff can dig a little deeper to learn why an item is being returned and recommend solutions tailored to a customer’s needs. It’s an excellent opportunity to cross-sell or upsell products that are in store.

Even if a customer chooses to proceed with a refund, the data gathered can help product designers and buyers understand why customers are dissatisfied. If expectations aren’t being met, you may need to help shoppers make a more informed decision before they add items to their carts.

This may take the form of detailed sizing charts, additional product photographs, in-depth descriptions, videos that offer a 360-degree view of the product, or feedback and reviews from other customers about fit.

Leverage Returns to Supply Branded Resale

Perhaps the most impactful way for brands to divert merchandise from landfills and generate revenue is to offer returned products for sale. By adopting a resale channel, brands can sell new and pre-worn merchandise to customers using a white-label, branded resale platform. This ecommerce returns solution reduces waste and extends the life of your products.

According to Just Style, the resale clothing market is only going to expand in the coming years. Motivated by sustainability concerns, as well as their own pocketbooks, budget-conscious shoppers are finding the brands they love to wear on resale platforms.

The clothing resale market was expected to notch 31% growth in 2022, and expand by another 52% during the three-year span from 2023 to 2026.

Patagonia and REI are examples of stores that sell returned items. Their resale inventory also includes gently worn gear that customers bring into retail stores or send in by mail. In exchange, shoppers receive credits that can be used in person or online for new and used apparel.

These resale programs have been hugely successful in capturing revenue for goods that would otherwise have gone to third-party resale channels or the landfill. On average, 80% of Patagonia’s WornWear online inventory sells in one week. In 2021 alone, REI sold more than 1 million preloved items.

Launch Your Branded Resale Channel with Trove

Launching a new branded channel may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with Trove. Patagonia and REI power their resale programs through Trove. Trove helps design, create and execute branded resale programs, providing back-end technology and assuming much of the end-to-end, behind-the-scenes work.

Reverse logistics are one of the biggest challenges for brands managing inventory returns, but Trove streamlines the process of moving goods back from the customer. This includes inspecting returns to ensure they meet your brand’s standards for resale. Once items are accepted, Trove uses data from your catalogs to create product listings. High-quality product photos are taken in line with your brand, and prices are set using algorithms to maximize profitability. Trove can fulfill orders or you can manage the resale program in your facilities using Trove technology and item IDs.

The dedicated brand site keeps customers within your ecosystem, delivering a seamless experience. Trade-in credits are quickly issued and redeemed using Trove’s apps. The resale program can also be connected with loyalty rewards and gift cards. Trove collects valuable analytics throughout the entire journey, providing you with insight into site engagement and customer behavior. You can use this data to further inform your marketing strategies.

Transform your returns into profit with Trove’s end-to-end branded resale platform. Chat with us today!

How to Save Money on Gifts this Holiday Season

Are you feeling the pinch of holiday expenses this year? You’re not alone. According to a study by Jungle Scout, 84% say inflation and economic uncertainty will affect their budget for holiday gifts. 

As shoppers look to stretch their wallets and reduce waste, many are turning to pre-loved apparel and gear. The same study found that 25% of respondents planned to gift pre-worn items to help combat the impact of inflation. 

Here are six ways to save money on gifts this year—and how buying pre-loved contributes to a more sustainable and budget-friendly holiday season.

1. Create a budget and stick to it

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays. While gift-giving can be rewarding, holiday promotions often encourage impulse purchases. A well-formed budget helps you plan ahead and prevents overspending on presents. 

Before heading to the mall, use a budgeting tool to determine your spending limit. How much can you afford to buy?

Next, look for opportunities to reduce or eliminate non-essential expenditures during the holiday season. Make room for holiday purchases by eating out less, cutting back on morning coffee runs, or pausing subscriptions—such as your monthly beauty subscription box. 

Use cash to stay on track. You can also set limits on your credit card to ensure you remain within your holiday budget. 

2. Shop pre-loved for fashion, apparel, and gear

While the recommerce industry is not new, branded resale is booming. Over the last few years, brands across categories have established their own resale channels—allowing customers to buy and sell pre-loved items directly on a brand’s website. Companies like Allbirds, Arc’Teryx, and Patagonia all operate branded resale channels. 

There are many benefits to purchasing pre-loved apparel and gear directly from a brand. Let’s take a look at a few. 

Makes your holiday season more eco-friendly

With pre-loved clothing and gear, you can reduce waste during the holidays. According to Finder.com, Americans will spend almost $8.3 billion on unwanted gifts. Approximately 8% of those items will be thrown away.  

When you shop pre-loved, you can be more intentional about the type of gifts you buy and help products last longer.

Expands your holiday budget

Pre-loved gifts also allow you to stretch your budget, especially when purchasing luxury items. According to a report by CouponFollow, shoppers who buy pre-loved goods save approximately $1,760 a year. 

By shopping pre-worn items, you may be able to purchase brands that were previously outside your budget. 

Reduces the risk of counterfeit or defective products

Branded resale also reduces the risk of buying counterfeit goods. In 2020, Incopro found that 26% of shoppers had accidentally purchased a fake item within the previous year. 

You will know the items are authentic when you purchase them from a brand’s resale channel. And retailers often offer guarantees and warranties for additional piece of mind. 

3. Reduce spending on holiday wrapping 

Gift wrapping is another opportunity to save money and reduce waste. A study by Avocado Green Mattress found that people produce approximately 43% more waste during the holiday season. The majority of the excess waste comes from wrapping paper, gift bags, and tissue paper.

To wrap your gifts, you can use leftover fabrics, scraps, ribbons, reusable bags, newspapers, and twine. Using recycled materials is not only more sustainable, but it also makes your wrapping stand out.

4. Organize a White Elephant gift exchange

Instead of buying gifts for every person on your list, consider organizing a White Elephant gift exchange. Besides saving money, White Elephant is a fun way to connect with loved ones.

When planning a White Elephant gift exchange, you should provide guidelines around the types of gifts and set a spending limit. Make sure everyone is familiar with the rules before the party starts.

5. Give homemade gifts

Homemade gifts are a sustainable, cost-effective, and—most importantly—thoughtful approach to gift-giving. 

Some ideas for homemade gifts include:

  • Baked goods
  • Body scrubs
  • Soaps
  • Candles
  • An apron with children’s handprints or pawprints from pets
  • Scrapbooks or memory boards of a special event
  • A coupon book such as an evening of babysitting, a weekend of petsitting, or help with home improvement projects (e.g., gardening or painting)

6. Start shopping early

Finally, get started as early as possible. Shopping early enables you to research and compare prices and take advantage of holiday promotions. 

Consider setting up a separate email address and subscribing to email updates from your favorite brands. Then, you can set up filters to forward relevant promotions to your primary email account. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also avoid impulse purchases. 

Additional time also helps you save on shipping costs. You won’t need to select expedited or priority shipping to rush your gifts. Or you can avoid shipping fees altogether by taking advantage of in-store pick-up options. 

Pre-loved holiday shopping with Trove

Trove is an all-in-one platform for branded resale. Trove partners with the world’s most renowned brands—including REI, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, and Lululemon—to expand the lifecycle of apparel and gear without growing emissions. 
Read our blog to learn more about how Trove is transforming the resale industry and enabling resale as a channel.

Solve Fashion’s Return Problem & Grow Your Brand with Branded Resale

The last three years have created unprecedented challenges for retailers. New shopper habits, rising inflation, and supply chain delays have altered the retail landscape. For brands, finding creative ways to drive revenue is critical.

One channel that generates immediate ROI? Branded resale.

Branded resale describes retailers who operate resale channels in-house. It allows retailers to manage the trade-in and resale process from start to finish. —rather than having products appear on third-party resale sites.

Today, brands such as Lululemon, REI, Patagonia, and Levi’s have implemented white-label branded resale platforms with Trove.

The benefits of branded resale extend beyond helping retailers meet their sustainability goals. Leveraging inventory from customers’ closets and returns creates new opportunities for brand growth.

Why should brands open their own resale marketplaces?

As the retail landscape continues to change, retailers must rethink retail operations. “There’s a lot of reasons why now is the right time to start a branded resale channel,” says Pete Small, VP of Partnerships at Trove. “It’s only been bolstered by the macro environment.”

Small compares the growth of recommerce to the early days of e-commerce. “Any industry data that you look at points to resale as a channel continuing to grow and to demographic shifts towards buying used,” he says. “It’s very much an investment towards where the market is going. It’s been compared to what e-commerce was 20 or 25 years ago.”

Here are five reasons why brands should invest in branded recommerce.

1. Brands can also focus on providing shoppers with the best customer experience.

According to the National Retail Federation, returns accounted for $761 billion in lost sales in 2021. Shoppers returned approximately 16.6% of all merchandise purchased during the year. With the acceleration of ecommerce, that number is expected to grow.

Returns not only reduce profits but are also destructive to the environment. Every year, returns contribute to almost six billion pounds of landfill waste in the United States. And the shipping of returns emits over 16 million tons of CO2.

With branded resale, retailers minimize losses on returns and reduce their environmental impact. Small argues that returns “gives your brand the opportunity to engage with your product at a different price point.”

Small also stresses that returns offer an easy way to get started with resale programs. By using existing inventory, recommerce programs provide ROI on day one.

2. Branded resale combats supply chain shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain disruptions for retailers across all categories. Repeated factory shutdowns left retailers with low inventory levels. The US Census Bureau found retailers had only 33 days of inventory in June 2021, down from 43 days in February 2020. The Russia-Ukraine war has only worsened the problem by blocking shipping routes.

With branded resale, retailers have immediate access to a new source of inventory. “There are thousands of items of inventory… already out in the market,” says Small. “Some of it is being used. Likely a large part of it is sitting dormant in closets. And the [mission] of our program is to get that product back in use.”

Branded resale allows retailers to access untapped inventory and provide customers with products faster.

3. Shoppers demand sustainable options

A growing awareness of climate change has led people to explore more sustainable lifestyles. Today, 40% of shoppers cite sustainability as the reason they buy pre-loved goods.

Gen Z shoppers were early adopters of the recommerce market, participating in sites like Depop, Poshmark, and StockX. Now, 62% of Gen Z prefer to buy from eco-conscious brands, and 54% are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

At the same time, Gen Z shoppers are wary of greenwashing. It’s not enough for brands to say they care about the planet. Retailers must incorporate sustainability into every aspect of their operations—including product materials, manufacturing, and shipping.

But Gen Z is not the only generation that values sustainability. Shoppers of all ages are adopting more environmentally-conscious purchasing habits. Last year, Baby Boomers represented the fastest-growing segment in the resale market. The number of Baby Boomers participating in recommerce increased by 56% year-over-year.

How Branded Resale is Drawing in New Customers this Holiday Season

4. Branded resale drives more value out of your product

Resale as a channel also enhances the customer experience. With trade-in, repair, and resale programs, brands enable customers to participate in a circular ecosystem. At REI, trade-ins have become an integral part of its membership program. Last year, REI expanded its trade-in program to all its retail stores and sold over one million pre-loved goods.

Branded resale enables retailers to maximize the value of their products. Elizabeth Cline, the author of The Conscious Closet, found that recommerce extends a product’s lifespan 1.7 times. As a result, brands can resell the product multiple times.

Most importantly, branded resale puts retailers in control. “Whether or not you as a brand decide to build your own program, the activity is going to happen in the market,” says Small. “You can choose to ignore [it] or you can choose to take advantage of all that activity. [You want to] ensure that you are putting out the best customer experience and recouping the maximum value from your customers and products.”

With branded resale, retailers maintain control over their brand identity and pricing. Brands can also focus on providing shoppers with the best customer experience.

5. Branded resale provides immediate ROI despite economic uncertainty

Finally, branded resale enables brands to compete with rising inflation and economic uncertainty. Today, 36% of shoppers buy pre-worn goods to save money or afford products. When shoppers tighten their wallets, branded resale allows retailers to remain accessible.

“Resale [can be] counter-cyclical to the macroenvironment. As there are challenges with the economy, people are typically looking for a more value option. Resale is a good way to enable that,” says Small.

With branded resale, retailers can repurpose existing inventory to help drive revenue in a volatile economy.

Branded Resale Shopper Statistics

What should brands know before implementing branded resale?

Run Your Recommerce like Ecommerce

While returns make it easy to start a resale program, brands must be strategic to ensure success. “It’s important to think about resale like you would any new business,” says Small. “Essentially [you’re] building a new startup. You need resourcing for that business. You need dedicated decision-making.”

A retailer must approach branded resale the same way they would grow a sub-brand. At the same time, a retailer should understand how the recommerce channel will complement and support the company’s core business.

The path to profitability takes time

As with any new business, success takes time. Brands must establish clear metrics and milestones to track progress.

Small stresses that retailers should understand how branded resale impacts the rest of their brands’ ecosystems. Customer lifetime value, engagement, and gift card programs are a few metrics to consider. “We encourage our partners to not only look at the P&L of the resale business on its own… but also other parts that are influencing the wider business,” he says.

Flexibility is essential

At the same time, Small recommends remaining flexible. “Every brand is unique, and their customer base is unique, so we should be open to change,” he says. “[At Trove], we’re well-equipped to help you manage those changes. We’ve built a number of checkpoints into the process… to assess what’s going well, where there’s an opportunity, [and] where we can improve.”

Trove approaches each brand as a strategic partner, offering ongoing support through every step of the business.

Branded recommerce with Trove

Trove is an all-in-one white-label platform that powers branded resale. With Trove, retailers design and operate sustainable branded resale programs–right from their websites.

With the ability to tap into existing inventory—such as trade-in programs or returns—Trove helps drive immediate results. And retailers have access to a comprehensive analytics dashboard to help them grow their resale business.

Get started today to see how brands drive immediate ROI with Trove.

We Need to Rethink Fashion’s Current Growth Model

For the last half a century, the fashion industry has relied on a linear supply chain. With this model, growing profit through garment sales means brands must ramp up production. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, clothing consumption doubled between 2000 and 2015, and wears per garment decreased by 40%

While fashion companies are trying to be more sustainable, they haven’t addressed the main issue: rampant growth in the production of new garments makes the current fashion model unsustainable.

To meet customer demand without increasing manufacturing, brands need to rethink their current growth model.

Branded resale is the most brand-centric obvious solution. Brands that sell their products through resale programs can reduce new production and reintroduce pre-owned branded products into their supply. This shift benefits shoppers and brands as it allows growth in sales without an increase in carbon emissions. Simply put, brands should ask themselves- Why sell an item once when you can sell it multiple times?

Why Fashion Needs a New Growth Model

The impact the fashion industry has on the environment is huge. A 2019 report from the UNEP finds the fashion industry creates about 8-10% of global carbon emissions. A 2020 report from the Princeton Climate Initiative finds emissions attributed to the fashion industry are likely to increase by 50% if brands stick with the current growth model.  Fashion is expected to account for 20% of the 2040 CO2 budget. [McKinsey… need to find the source]

The solution to fashion’s sustainability issue lies in an overhaul of the entire growth model, which includes addressing overproduction and textile waste.

Textile Production Drinks Up Our Water Supply

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fashion textile production uses 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. The impact of this level of production is felt in the communities of dry regions where clothing is manufactured.

In addition to water consumption, 20% of global wastewater is caused by dyeing and finishing clothing. The harmful chemicals used in these processes tend to find their way into waterways. Due to the chemicals used in the process, the water supply often can’t be treated to become drinkable after it’s polluted.

If fashion brands stick to the current growth model, it would mean an ever-increasing need for textile manufacturing. This model is not sustainable as it simultaneously decreases the total amount of usable water while increasing the demand.

Fast Fashion Capitalizes on Novelty at the Expense of Quality

In the 1990s, fast fashion companies like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 reshaped fashion seasons from four to 52-micro seasons. More fashion seasons required brands to design and manufacture new clothing lines faster, all while sacrificing quality for quantity.

Shoppers, ever driven by the dopamine rush of something affordable and novel, responded to this trend by buying more items of clothing, more frequently. Brands have continued to reinvest in low-quality, low-durability garments creating a vicious cycle of unsustainable supply and demand.

Branded Resale is the Obvious Solution

While there may be no quick fixes, branded resale is an obvious solution for brands committed to meeting the climate change mitigation goals laid out in the 2015 Paris Accords.

Branded resale reintroduces pre-worn branded products into a brand’s supply chain.  By giving these pre-worn garments a new life, brands can continue to profit from their products over time. This more sustainable model allows for business growth without relying solely on an increase in production.

While retailers have expressed concerns that resale could cannibalize primary sales, new studies published disprove those fears. According to Women’s Wear Daily, 60% of shoppers have discovered a brand through secondhand shopping. The survey suggests that branded resale can introduce shoppers to a brand at a lower price point, which may then lead to primary sales.

The bottom line is, that branded resale pumps the brakes on shopper and shareholder demands for ever-increasing production while allowing a brand continued growth. Reducing production supports global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and water pollution. This creates an overall net positive from a corporate social responsibility perspective.

The future of customer closets looks more fluid as resale becomes a popular way to shop. The only roadblock for brands to create a circular shopping experience is architecture and logistics.

Companies such as Trove, have created end-to-end item intelligence technology that optimizes every step of the circular journey. Trove’s white-label branded resale platform transforms complex logistics into a joyful customer experience, adding to brand equity without increasing carbon emissions.

We believe creating a more inclusive, less wasteful business model is possible. Let us show you how we can help your brand enter a new era of conscious commerce. The seeds of a sustainable future must be planted today. Book a free demo with us today!

Why Branded Resale Should Be Your Growth Strategy

According to Global Data, branded resale programs increased by 275% from 2020 to 2021. Brands like Arc’teryx and Eileen Fisher, early to adopt this strategy are seeing huge success with their branded resale programs. 

It’s hard to ignore a booming sales channel that offers both a positive impact on the planet and sustainable brand growth

At Trove, we’re committed to bringing sustainable solutions to the fashion industry. We understand the risks and objections executives might have when it comes to rolling out a branded resale shopping experience for their customers. Here we’ve outlined some of the statistics and case studies that prove branded resale is a strong play for brands committed to sustainability. 

Your Customers Already Shop Secondhand

While much of the interest in resale has been driven by Generation Z’s concern for sustainability and affordability, research shows that shoppers across all generations are shifting to resale purchases.

According to research conducted by the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, shopping secondhand has surged by almost 30% across all generations in the last few years

It’s interesting to note that while shoppers have different options for shopping resale, such as peer-to-peer marketplaces and clothing swaps, 65% prefer brand-operated or third-party Recommerce. This preference clearly demonstrates an opportunity for fashion brands to capitalize on. 

First Insight x Wharton

The Stigma of Secondhand Has Shifted 

Sustainability has always been a large part of why shoppers purchase pre-owned items, but inflation and the pandemic accelerated the growth of the resale market.

With less disposable income, shoppers tightened their budgets during the pandemic and became more conscious of their spending. While some bought second-hand to save money, they also dipped into their own closets to find the clothing they could resell. And, as health restrictions shuttered stores, shoppers turned to digital shopping experiences to supply their fashion fix. 

The below chart illustrates a group of respondents from 2021. Across all generations, most have purchased secondhand online. 

First Insight x Wharton

These changes in habits, combined with an ongoing awareness of our environmental footprint, are inspiring more customers to buy and sell pre-owned apparel. Not only is there less of a stigma against buying used goods, but people are also proud to share their finds. 

Branded Resale Reduces Counterfeits

According to data from the OECD, fake products are a $4.5 trillion market, with fake luxury goods accounting for 60-70% of that. As more shoppers go online for their favorite brands, counterfeiters are seizing new opportunities to sell through third-party marketplaces and peer-to-peer platforms.

Recent publications raise concerns regarding the in-house authentication processes of resellers like The RealReal, eBay, and ThredUp. According to an investigation by The Capitol Forum in 2019, hourly workers with the title of “copywriter” were responsible for authenticating luxury brand items. The report further explains that copywriters were pressured to meet authentication quotes of 130-155 items a day or risk being fired. 

While counterfeit items have always been a challenge for the fashion industry, luxury brands suffer more when third-party resale platforms sell counterfeit products as authenticated branded apparel. 

This poses a threat to brand reputation and could result in a loss of revenue if enough low-quality counterfeits are introduced into the market as authenticated products. 

At Trove, we partner with brands to create a branded authentication process. This way, you and your customers can feel secure knowing the products purchased through your branded resale channel are genuine. 

Branded Resale Revitalizes Brick & Mortar Locations

Outdoor gear retailer, REI is a perfect example of how branded resale channels can work together to support brick-and-mortar locations. In 2018, the brand launched its online resale channel. Then in 2020, the brand launched its online trade-in program and also offered trade-in at select stores. Members were encouraged to trade in their gently used gear in exchange for an REI gift card. 

After implementing their resale strategy, REI reported their used gear revenue increased by 86% year over year and their total year-over-year sales growth by 36%. 

Today they’ve expanded resale trade-in to all their brick-and-mortar stores after seeing the impact branded resale as a channel has had on both online and in-store sales. 

By offering used goods in-store and incentives for in-store trade-ins, REI created an opportunity to connect with customers who may be new to the brand while also serving avid brand loyalists ready to trade in and upgrade their gear. 

Executives considering branded resale should be thinking about how their resale strategy can support both online and brick-and-mortar locations. Trove offers an end-to-end solution for branded resale. We power the technology, operations, and analytics to help you gain insights into shopper behavior online and in brick-and-mortar locations. 

Resale Supports Brand Growth, Even During Supply Chain Shortages

Brands require a steady inventory of products to generate sales and maintain market share. As the pandemic revealed, the supply chain can be disrupted at any time by a shortage of materials and equipment, shipping and transportation challenges, and labor shortages.

Customers who can’t purchase the products they want because of an interrupted supply chain often look for similar offerings from competitors. It takes only a few clicks to switch to another brand, and businesses risk losing the customer entirely when they’re satisfied with the competition and decide not to come back.

A resale channel can help a brand through supply chain shortages by providing another avenue for shoppers to find products, and generating continuing revenue to support operations. Resale as a channel also extends the customer lifecycle with a brand. 

Trove Makes Launching Your Branded Resale Channel Easy

Premium brands such as Lululemon, Levi’s, and Patagonia are among the many businesses taking ownership of their resale products by partnering with Trove. These brands continue to drive sales from the initial purchase of their products to capturing additional revenue from resales that might otherwise be lost to third-party sellers.

To learn more about tapping into this channel, schedule a demo with us today

How Circular Supply Chains Can Drive Sustainability & Profitability

Recently, customers have become more aware of the global impact unchecked consumerism has had on the planet. They’ve used their wallets to pressure businesses to adopt more eco-friendly business practices. In response, brands began replacing traditional business practices with more sustainable ones. 

Executives could benefit from investigating these solutions to learn how circular supply chains can increase sustainability without sacrificing profits. The future of a circular economy looks like products that can be reused or repaired. Brands can keep up with government sustainability regulations by making products that meet these demands.

Brands like Patagonia and REI are working towards a more sustainable model by opening branded resale for pre-worn branded items.

What Is a Circular Supply Chain vs. Linear Supply Chain?

A linear supply chain is a directional flow of resources from manufacturer to distributor to customer. Everything always moves in A-to-B-to-C succession, aka “take, make, and waste” and rarely skips around or moves backward.

Circular supply chains connect every point of production to create more value for end customers. The circular model allows customers to supply manufacturers directly through recycling or by connecting with suppliers.

The key difference between circular and linear supply chains is how communication and synergy are used. In a linear system, each point only needs to track its supplies’ origins and destinations. The dairy farmer only needs to deal with who buys his cows and to who he sells the milk. The circular chain requires much more communication and cooperation.

Further down the dairy chain, there’s a perfect illustration of how the circular chain complicates communication: glass milk bottles. A new glass bottle is used for the first time by the customer. Now, it needs to be returned to the dairy supplier to get back into the supply chain for reuse. If the dairy supplier wants to reuse milk bottles, it needs to let the people who buy them know how and why they should return them.

How Circular Supply Chains Contribute to Sustainability

The main way circular supply chains support sustainability is through more efficient use of materials. Keeping materials revolving means less need for new raw materials and reduces the number of used items that become waste.

There are many different ways that resources can move through the supply chain, not just through consumers using and then recycling a product. Clothing companies with lots of returned inventory are partnering with brands like Trove to clean, inventory, and resell apparel back to their customers. This creates a more sustainable system by getting more use out of what we produce.

Positive Social Impact on Brands

“Show don’t tell” has become a maxim to live by concerning brand activism. Developing and using circular supply chains promotes sustainability and demonstrates a willingness to lessen environmental impact regardless of the bottom line.

Working to find real solutions and compromises is more effective than simply posting on Instagram, and it can help protect your brand from being accused of virtue signaling. If your business relies heavily on its brand image for sales, as many fashion brands do, then creating a circular supply chain could help increase sales or prevent losses from negative publicity.

The Circular Economy

A circular economy uses practices such as circular supply chains to promote sustainability and regeneration. 

The holistic goals of a circular economy include: 

  • Reducing or eliminating waste
  • Extending a product’s lifespan
  • Rebalancing natural systems by reducing the use of raw materials 

Five business models are needed to create a circular economy. 

1. Circular Supply Chains

Circular supply chains help reduce the number of single-use products by returning products to the supply chain. This helps reduce waste and unnecessary raw material use.

2. Resource Recovery

Most waste contains reusable resource materials. If the waste isn’t reusable there may be other ways it could be converted into energy. Resource recovery allows brands to gather and leverage these materials.

3. Product Life Extension

Product life extension models start from the product design stage. Brands should prioritize designing products for longer life that can be repaired or upgraded. By doing this, products can be recirculated into the economy extending and maximizing their use. 

Creating product designed to have longer lifespans will lead to bigger changes. If brands consider creating products designed to last multiple lifetimes, they leverage branded resale strategies to monetize second and third sales in a truly circular model.

4. Sharing Platforms

A major part of sustainability is getting the most out of a product or resource. Sharing a product or resource increases its overall utilization. For example, carpooling reduces fuel usage. Sharing platforms connect people to make product sharing easier.

5. Products as a Service

The most common example of a product as a service is a Wi-Fi router supplied by your internet provider. You get a tangible product, but its use works more like a service because you return it when you’re no longer a customer. This helps create sustainability by incentivizing service providers to create products with longer lifespans and repair or upgrade used products.

Help Brands Meet Environmental Regulations

One of the main incentives for companies to implement circular supply chains is to meet government regulations. It’s not hard to see more regulation is on the horizon by looking at recent EU and French laws around producer responsibility, more circular models, or current SEC regulations around GHG disclosures currently under review. Meeting these requirements could be difficult without using circular systems.

Are Circular Supply Chains the Future?

With increased environmental consciousness in customers and global initiatives to promote sustainability and lessen environmental impacts, circular supply chains are the future. Constantly buying, using, and trashing products is no longer a model customers are content with. Additionally, it’s not a model that can compete with supply demands. 

Here are some ways executives can start working on creating supply chain sustainability: 

  • Learn more about circular supply chains in your industry
  • Contact circular technology and solution companies
  • Inform others about the benefits and the need for circular supply chains

C-suite executives must consider how they can implement circular ideas and improve supply chain sustainability if they want their brand to survive in the circular economy. Start by learning more about what other brands are doing.