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Sergey Shvets
Written by
Sergii Shvets
Founder & CEO at Gepard
Cyril Dorogan Gepard PIM E-Commerce Consultant
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Why Re-Commerce Is The Answer to Future of Brand Sustainability

5 min read
Published: June 18, 2024

Have you noticed how recommerce is reshaping brands like Patagonia, which resells used gear to promote eco-friendliness? This innovative approach is transforming the future of brands.

Are you an eCommerce business owner, brand manager, or sustainability officer and want to reduce waste while boosting profits and customer loyalty? Then reverse commerce can be your choice. Let’s start with a brief recommerce definition.

What is Recommerce?

Recommerce, or reverse commerce, refers to the process of selling previously owned, used, or refurbished products, often through online platforms. This sustainable practice extends the lifecycle of goods, reduces waste, and offers consumers affordable options.

Recommerce includes buying back, refurbishing, and reselling items such as electronics, fashion, furniture, and others.

Recommerce plays an important role in the circular economy, which aims to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently. Unlike the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ model, the circular economy keeps products and materials in use longer. By refurbishing and reselling items, sustainability in recommerce is enhanced by ensuring that products are reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of being thrown away.

The Sustainability Challenge for Brands

  • Environmental Impact of Manufacturing and Logistics

Have you ever considered the environmental cost of the new products you buy online? Traditional eCommerce creates significant carbon emissions from manufacturing new items and shipping them around the world.

For instance, producing and delivering a single smartphone involves mining precious metals, extensive manufacturing processes, and long-distance shipping, all of which contribute to air pollution and climate change.

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How recommerce can help: Reverse commerce addresses these issues by refurbishing and reselling existing products. This means fewer resources are extracted and less energy is used, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

For example, companies like Back Market refurbish and sell electronics, reducing the need for new manufacturing. Additionally, reverse commerce often involves more localized logistics, meaning products travel shorter distances, further minimizing the environmental impact. Understanding ‘what does recommerce mean’ is key: it refers to the process of selling used or refurbished products, offering a greener alternative to traditional eCommerce.

  • Waste Management and Product Lifecycle

Do you know how much waste businesses actually generate from discarded products?

Traditional eCommerce often results in a throwaway culture, where items are quickly disposed of, contributing to massive amounts of waste. For instance, the fast fashion industry sees tons of unsold inventory and returned items ending up in landfills, creating significant environmental challenges.

How recommerce can help: Reverse commerce gives products a second life by refurbishing and reselling them, which reduces the number of waste businesses produce. Companies like ThredUp, which sell second-hand clothing, help keep items out of landfills and in use for longer. This not only cuts down on waste but also saves resources and energy that would be needed to make new products. By promoting sustainability in recommerce, businesses can move away from a disposable model to one that values reuse and long-lasting products, greatly reducing their environmental impact.

  • Sourcing Sustainable Materials

Do you know where the materials for new products come from? Traditional eCommerce often relies on non-renewable and unsustainable materials, harming the environment and depleting resources.

How recommerce can help: It reduces the demand for new materials by refurbishing and reselling existing products. This means fewer new resources are needed, which helps conserve natural materials and reduce environmental harm.

For example, companies like IKEA have started selling refurbished furniture, decreasing the need for fresh raw materials. By supporting the reuse of existing materials through reverse commerce, businesses can contribute to a more sustainable future, prioritizing the conservation of resources over the continual sourcing of new ones. Understanding what is recommerce can help businesses shift towards more eco-friendly practices, promoting sustainability in every step of their operations.

  • Regulatory Compliance and Standards

How many standards does a traditional eCommerce business need to meet for products like lighting? For example, lighting manufacturers must comply with the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL) regulations, which require detailed energy efficiency information and stringent waste management practices.

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How recommerce can help: Recommerce can ease compliance by extending the life of lighting products, and reducing the need for frequent manufacturing and complex regulatory processes.

Companies like Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) are leading the way by refurbishing and reselling used lighting products. This practice helps them meet EPREL standards more efficiently, as refurbished products often fall under simpler compliance requirements. By adopting reverse commerce practices, businesses can reduce the effort and cost of meeting regulatory demands while promoting sustainability in recommerce. This helps businesses stay compliant and meet consumer expectations for eco-friendly practices.

  • Consumer Awareness and Demand for Transparency

Are your customers asking more questions about where their products come from and how they are made? With growing consumer awareness, businesses face increasing pressure to provide transparency about their products’ environmental impact and sustainability practices. Shoppers today demand clear information about the origins, manufacturing processes, and environmental footprint of their purchases.

How recommerce can help: It enhances transparency by providing a clear lifecycle for products, showing how they are refurbished and resold.

For example, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program allows consumers to track the journey of refurbished clothing, offering transparency and building trust. By integrating reverse commerce, businesses can deliver the transparency and eco-friendly practices consumers want. This not only meets consumer expectations but also strengthens the brand’s reputation for sustainability and trustworthiness.

Best Practices of Implementing Recommerce Strategies

Implementing recommerce can boost your brand by extending product lifecycles and appealing to eco-conscious buyers. Here’s how to start:

  • Use Technology: A Product Information Management (PIM) system is essential for managing product data. It streamlines inventory tracking, price adjustments, and product listings, making recommerce efficient.
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  • Optimize Logistics: Develop a process for handling returns and resales. Efficient logistics are key to smooth operations and customer satisfaction.
  • Build Trust: Clearly state product conditions and offer warranties or certifications to reassure buyers.
  • Personalize Marketing: Use personalized marketing strategies to engage customers. A user-friendly platform enhances the shopping experience.

Understanding the recommerce meaning and implementing these practices will help your brand succeed in this growing market.

Grover: Enhancing Recommerce with Gepard PIM

Grover, a leading tech subscription platform in Europe, exemplifies recommerce by offering flexible rentals of cutting-edge electronics. Integrating the Gepard Product Information Management (PIM) system has significantly enhanced Grover’s recommerce business. This integration achieved the following:

  • Centralized Product Data: The Gepard PIM system centralized Grover’s product data, overcoming data silos and providing a single source of truth.
  • Accurate Information: It ensured accurate, up-to-date product information for subscribers, enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Content Enrichment: The system enriched product content through Icecat connectors, providing detailed and multilingual support.
  • Sustainability: This initiative supports sustainability in recommerce by extending the lifespan of tech products, minimizing e-waste, and maximizing value for users.

Through efficient data management and seamless logistics, Grover demonstrates how technology can drive sustainability in the recommerce market.

Levi Strauss: Reverse Logistics for Optimized Sales

Levi Strauss has implemented a robust reverse logistics system to support its recommerce initiatives. The company collects old jeans through various channels, including retail store drop-offs and mail-in programs.

These items are then sorted, refurbished, and resold. Levi’s uses advanced logistics software to manage the flow of returned goods, ensuring that each item is processed efficiently and meets quality standards for resale. This optimization reduces waste and boosts the availability of high-quality, sustainable products, driving better sales in their recommerce segment​

What Does Recommerce Mean For Sustainable Business?

Are you looking for ways to make your business more sustainable? Recommerce offers a powerful solution to many eCommerce challenges, such as reducing environmental impact, managing waste, and meeting regulatory standards. By refurbishing and reselling products, you can lower your ecological footprint and build a more trustworthy brand.

Think about this: the global recommerce market is projected to reach $275.8 billion by 2028, growing at a rate of 10% annually. Plus, 85% of consumers are now engaged in buying or selling secondhand goods. This growing trend shows that consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable options.

Implementing effective product information management should be part of your sustainability goal. Contact our experts at Gepard, and we will get back to you with the best PIM solution for your eco-conscious business strategy.

Sergey Shvets
Written by Sergii Shvets
Founder & CEO at Gepard
IT entrepreneur with a deep technical background. Founder & CEO at Gepard, the product information management & delivery platform, helping to centralize diverse product data and deliver complying content to sales channels. Director Of Technology at Icecat, the global open catalog with more than 27K brands onboard. Sergii Shvets is an expert in the field of product data management and optimization, who has set up product content delivery across multiple platforms for a wide range of companies, including HP, MIGROS, and more.

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