Here's How thredUp Is Leading the Charge when it comes to Recommerce

The world of ecommerce loves a catchy buzzword, and new ones seem to come to the fore all the time.

One of the latest and perhaps less well known is the concept of recommerce. This is the idea of using ecommerce platforms to sell on second-hand items - usually clothing. While the idea of selling used goods is not a new one, turning the repurposing and reselling of second-hand clothes into a dedicated industry is.

The clothing industry has an enormous environmental footprint, and it's this which is driving change.

"2015 textile production generated 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, more than equivalent to all international flights and maritime shipping combined," reports the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Textiles Economy research. "Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned, while less than 1 percent of textiles are recycled. At this rate, the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world's carbon budget by 2050."

Brands such as thredUp are leading the charge when it comes to recommerce in the clothing industry.


Certain times of year are better for recommerce than others. January is a banner month, as people look to palm off those unwanted Christmas gifts and offset the financial burden the preceding holiday season often inflicts on them.

One of the key things which enables a brand such as thredUp to be so effective at what it does is data. The brand has been in business long enough now to be able to identify trends and patterns surrounding what people want at different times, and - as in our example above - when they are looking to offload unwanted articles.

Different cuts, colors, styles, and more can all be arranged depending on the season and current fashion trends.

"We leveraged all the data that we have at thredUp around average sell-through, and then used that to pick the right items," said thredUp Co-Founder and CEO James Reinhart. "According to this data, a dark-colored wrap dress with small flowers sells better than a lighter design with larger flowers. We could have picked one or the other, we let the data tell us which one to pick."

This allows thredUp to design its collections around market demands, with a view to buying the same items back for resale after trends have moved on again.


ThredUp also has its own private label called Remade, which is helping keep even more clothing out of landfill sites.

Remade uses recycled materials for its clothing lines, which are designed to be resold. By using high-grade stitching, thredUp expects its garments to last through three or four separate owners. To incentivize returns after use, thredUp is guaranteeing customers at least 40 percent of the purchase price back if they choose to sell their items back to the brand for resale. A QR code on the clothing tag allows customers to scan and trace the entire selling history of the item, giving the whole process a sense of transparency and community.

"How quickly thredUp resells the clothes is part of the Remade experiment," said Reinhart. "[The QR code] makes it very easy for that customer to learn more about that item. With information about the collection, year and ownership, thredUp can more easily process the item, price it accordingly, and get it back online for resale. Ideally, consumers won't cut off the tag (or will save it if they want the 40 percent return). That's the nice part about launching experiments and seeing how consumers adopt them - we'll find out."

Final Thoughts

ThredUp is creating a real network of data and people around its recommerce strategy. This is helping it to not only promote the brand and make its products attractive but also offset the huge impact the clothing industry has on the environment.

With the effects of mankind's impact on the planet becoming ever more evident, the need for change is indeed high. Every industry has a responsibility to combat their environmental impact for the betterment of future generations.

"Retailers are realizing that through this program, they can launch a loyalty program that is good for the planet and good for business," said Vice President of Marketing Communications and Partnerships at thredUp, Karen Clark. "Sometimes, they don't need to be mutually exclusive - customers are incentivized to resell."

You can hear thredUp's Cofounder and Chief Technical Officer, Chris Homer, speak at Etail East 2019, taking place in August at The Sheraton, Boston.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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