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The next chapter of resale
Circularity is – or should be – a goal of most product businesses from clothes to cars in the near future, but already a handful of brands from retailer John Lewis to fashion brand Balenciaga are investing heavily into re-use schemes that will define the market, if successful.
Why it matters
Re-use, which is far less energy and resource intensive than recycling, is imperative if we are to alleviate the pressures of the climate crisis. But actually making it work profitably is extremely difficult, given it is effectively a massive e-commerce returns operation with an added layer of difficult trust building.
New business models are emerging, and white-label tech is starting to show a neat route to market for these schemes. The challenge will likely be a function of the brand experience and how it delivers with the perception created even with a second-hand product. Re-sale will add a whole new dimension to the discipline of marketing.
A commitment to sustainability
John Lewis, the retailer to the British middle classes whose employee-ownership model has long anchored its wider societal purpose, has announced a new sustainability strategy with investment plans and pledges.
But what’s really interesting about its plans is the final bullet point: a commitment to “Develop more rental, resale and return opportunities, with an ambition to offer more sustainable ownership options for our customers across key areas including fashion, home and technology.”
It says that it will launch “take back” or “buy back” services across all categories by 2025. Across its own-brand products – a key strategic pillar for the company’s future – all products will meet circular design principles in order to last longer and withstand use across multiple owners.
It follows just a few days after the brand’s announcement of its ‘dress for hire’ service, reported here by WARC sibling Retail Week, and which itself is based on the success of a furniture rental service, which functions effectively as a test-drive (and, of course, data capture) feature to help customers decide on a purchase.
Balenciaga and the cold, hard business of resale
Meanwhile, Balenciaga, a major fashion house, has been testing a re-sale programme that allows owners to sell items through its own platform, the Business of Fashion reports.
Unlike many of its luxury counterparts, Balenciaga appears to be borrowing more from do-good outdoorsy brands like Patagonia and Finisterre by hosting the platform – as one might imagine John Lewis doing, too – in partnership with a white-label tech vendor on its own site, thereby retaining ownership over the experience.
This brings several critical advantages, notably controls over pricing and authentication, BOF notes, while cutting down on technological and logistical difficulties.
Many brands are watching and waiting to see how the market develops before moving ahead, even if most observers recognise a massive opportunity quite apart from the sustainability credentials. Brands will hope to win on both fronts.
Sourced from John Lewis, Retail Week, Business of Fashion, WARC, House Beautiful
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