Driven by the crisis, second-hand platforms are posting record attendance rates. A success from which the brands intend to take advantage while at the same time, they want to get their hands on their second-hand customers to make them buy… new! Initiatives are multiplying, each trying to make this new activity profitable.
It’s a booming business. According to a study conducted by the iVOX agency on behalf of 2ememain.be, Troc.com and Cash Converters, more than four out of ten Belgians (43.7%) resold objects in 2019 that they no longer used . They were 37.9% a year earlier. In total, the Belgians would thus have earned an average of 134.8 euros. And for more than one in ten sellers, the profit even exceeds the 300 euro mark. Top-selling items include clothing, furniture, books, electronics and toys.
It’s a booming business. According to a study conducted by the iVOX agency on behalf of 2ememain.be, Troc.com and Cash Converters, more than four out of ten Belgians (43.7%) resold objects in 2019 that they no longer used . They were 37.9% a year earlier. In total, the Belgians would thus have earned an average of 134.8 euros. And for more than one in ten sellers, the profit even exceeds the 300 euro mark. Top-selling items include clothing, furniture, books, electronics and toys. The trend does not seem to be fading anytime soon. Quite the contrary. The crisis we are going through acts as an accelerator. “There is clearly an awareness due to Covid, confirms Marie-Cécile Cervellon, professor of marketing at Edhec Business School (Lille). The discourse that we must try to save planetary resources and consume more manager has strengthened.” All initiatives within the framework of the so-called circular economy are therefore acclaimed, in particular by the young generation who intend more than ever to give meaning to their consumption. The crisis has also aggravated the financial situation of a whole section of the population, which sees in the purchase and sale of second-hand items an opportunity to continue to consume, but in a more ingenious way, by saving money. “For sellers, the second-hand market allows them to make money in order to finance a next purchase, possibly a new one, explains our expert. objective, in addition to consuming responsibly, is to get value for money. This is the notion of ‘value for money’. The second hand makes it possible to buy quality products at attractive prices.” Online platforms specializing in the purchase/sale of second-hand items are fully surfing on this renewed interest. But brands and distributors do not intend to let them benefit from this windfall alone. Seeing their items resold and bought back on platforms like Vinted and Cie without being able to benefit from them and without knowing their customers who frequent these circuits, it’s over! Not a week goes by without a brand announcing the launch of a platform or the signing of a partnership to allow its customers to resell or buy its items second-hand. Last year, two fashion heavyweights embarked on the adventure. The Swedish giant H&M, via its COS brand, has opened a second-hand platform in the United Kingdom called Resell. Objective? Allowing its registered customers to sell old clothing from the brand and buy archival pieces. Resell plays an intermediary role here at Vinted. The seller sets a price, provides product information, and handles shipping. COS takes a 10% commission on each sale. With this new platform, the British brand is one of the first major fashion brands to allow the resale of its items via a dedicated platform created in-house. Faced with the wave of opportunity, the e-commerce giants also want to be part of it. Thus, the German Zalando announced last September the deployment in Belgium of its new second-hand fashion offer: Pre-owned. Here the pattern is quite different. The group collects the clothes in exchange for a gift card. The main idea is therefore that customers can exchange the pieces they no longer wear for new items. The reasons which lead brands to launch themselves on the second-hand market today could therefore well be very different from those usually displayed in press releases. For Marie-Cécile Cervellon, the stakes are multiple. “It’s all about retaining their customers within their own ecosystem, she explains. Are we going to continue to see our items resold on sites like Vinted and others without doing anything or are we ready to adopt a much more proactive approach by trying to develop a second-hand activity? This is the question that more and more brands are asking themselves who intend to take advantage of this promising market. Another issue: the image. “Encouraging its customers to sell and buy its items second-hand allows a brand to acquire surplus value, says our interlocutor. This shows that it is a durable brand, of good quality since the items can be resold.” Finally, encouraging customers to resell their products on a platform specific to the brand simply encourages them to buy back within this brand, especially if the customers-resellers do not receive cash, but rather vouchers. . “At a minimum, it’s about retaining customers and encouraging them to buy new; at best, it is possible to benefit financially from the growth of this market through the collection of commissions on sales, etc.” , summarizes Marie-Cécile Cervellon. For the moment, no stable model has yet really emerged. Many brands want to reclaim this business and take advantage of it but do not yet know how to do it profitably. It is for this reason that we are now witnessing a multitude of tests aimed at finding the right economic model. Some brands decide to form partnerships with major second-hand platforms. This is the case, for example, of Burberry, which recently teamed up with second-hand specialist The RealReal. Its customers are encouraged to deposit a second-hand piece on the platform to be offered in return an invitation to a personal shopping session in one of the British luxury brand’s boutiques. Other labels are opting to open second-hand shops within the major marketplaces. Still others allow their customers to sell their items via a simple button in the order history. A click that generates a digital certificate of authenticity for the product, before it goes on sale on existing second-hand platforms. This is the original path explored by the French fashion brand Ba§sh which, helped in this adventure by two start-ups, can thus keep in touch with its customers. It now remains to monetize all this, because the brand must not only pay for the certificates but also remunerate the platforms on which its certified products are resold… Finally, some brands decide to create their own second-hand platform. Either the latter only serve as an intermediary between sellers and buyers, or the model also includes the processing and resale of the items by the brand itself. “It can be very expensive,” warns Marie-Cécile Cervellon. It is indeed necessary to take into account all the necessary logistics, the verification of the products, their possible repair, their resale and their shipment. “It’s a new business! You have to make volumes to make all these costly operations profitable. That’s why I think we’re going to see a lot of trials by brands before reaching a stabilized business model. ” With us too, several channels are currently launching tests, just to check how all this can be made profitable, before expanding the model. This is particularly the case of the furnishing specialist Ikea. The group is preparing to launch a service in Belgium called Second Hand (it can’t be invented!) which will allow customers to bring back to the store the items they wish to part with. “We are going to launch a new online platform on which customers will be able to receive an evaluation of the price of the item they wish to return, we are told. They will then have to bring it back to the store and will receive vouchers in exchange. purchase of the indicated value.” If the item cannot be refurbished, it will be recycled. If it can be repaired, it will be repaired before being resold in a space dedicated to second-hand goods, the famous “Circular Hub” which has just been created in the Mons store and which will be deployed in the all of the group’s Belgian points of sale within two years. Another player, another strategy: the Cora supermarket chain has also just announced at the start of the year its desire to launch itself into the second-hand market. But the Louis Delhaize group brand has decided to do so in partnership with specialist Cash Converters, which has opened its first shop-in-the-shop in the Rocourt hypermarket. A space of 78 m2 which looks exactly like a classic Cash Converters store, with a space dedicated to picking up items and another for selling. “Each time we want to associate a new concept with our brand, we ask ourselves whether we are doing it ourselves or in partnership, explains Cedric Antoine, executive director of Cora Belux. Cash Converters has both the knowledge -to-do and notoriety in terms of second-hand. It’s a win-win relationship. The brand benefits from the traffic of our stores, which guarantees it to receive a high number of items to resell, and we hope to expand Cora’s customer base, rejuvenate it and ensure that this collaboration can generate additional purchases.” The Cash Converters point of sale inside the Cora has the particularity of offering customers the opportunity to redeem their items with cash or Cora vouchers. Finally, another chain is fundamentally changing its way of doing business towards more circularity: Decathlon. “Ultimately, we want our turnover to be distributed as follows: one-third on the sale of new products, one-third on second-hand and one-third on subscription and rental”, explains Bruno Pinto Coelho, leader of projects, notably in charge of the “second hand” aspect. The sports brand allows customers to bring several Decathlon items back to the store, such as bicycles, scooters, fitness equipment, sportswear, etc., reconditions them in a centralized workshop and then resells them at points of sale and on Decathlon .be. “Regarding bicycles, their resale price is between 20 and 30% lower, with warranty, explains the manager. A bicycle at 200 euros is, for example, bought back 100 euros from the customer in the form of a voucher, we repair and resell it for 150 euros. This price allows us to cover our repair costs and make a margin. Knowing that a bicycle can be resold several times, this new commercial dynamic is interesting both from a ecological and economical point of view.