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Recommerce Enablement 1.0
July 27, 2021 at 4:45 PM
by Varun Sridhar
digital marketing

Recommerce, peer-to-peer or secondary marketplaces have been a wave that has taken the consumer market by storm over the last 5–10 years. Although this market’s existence dates back to the days of Ebay, Craigslist and other dinosaurs, recommerce has taken off through more modern platforms, many of which are now unicorn companies. These platforms enable consumers to sell products from any brand directly to other consumers online while managing a lot of friction including discovery, authentication, logistics and customer service. Some of these platforms focus on specific categories like shoes, streetwear or jewelry while others are more specialized based on geography or product price. Some large ones that my peers and I actively use include: StockX, GOAT, thredUP, Grailed, The RealReal, Etsy, Poshmark, Mercari and more.

Source: thredUP

The sneaker and streetwear resale market alone has grown to over $2 billion in North America, growing over 20% each year with the potential to reach $30 billion globally by 2030. Meanwhile, the global hard luxury (watches and jewelry) resale market is ~$25 billion and growing rapidly at 8% each year as well. These are only portions of the peer-to-peer resale landscape and encapsulates how this market has grown to be an entirely independent space poised to continue to heavily impact the way consumers think about buying products. COVID has played a big role in the accelerated adoption of ecommerce in general and this extends to the recommerce space as well.

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The fact of the matter is that across most of these horizontal selling platforms, there are some glaring problems that are growing congruently and need to be addressed. Now that there are signs of meaningful scale in this market, it is becoming clear that massive businesses can be built to service this market and its individual stakeholders including brands, sellers, buyers and the marketplaces themselves. I am calling this market the recommerce enablement market. Below are a few examples of problems that early-stage companies are trying to solve for different market constituents in the initial wave of recommerce enablement.

Brand Ownership

The brand’s involvement in resale has been limited at best historically. If you were to ask a sales executive at a top brand ten years ago whether they would consider selling used products, you would get laughed out of the room. Times and priorities have changed. Good brands are more sophisticated and now understand that peer-to-peer selling is a core buying channel of the future for consumers and they need to get involved.

As it stands, the peer-to-peer marketplaces are a complete black box to brands of all sizes. As more and more product sales happen in these marketplaces, there are three key problems that arise for brands:

1. Data. The brands collect no data at all on these transactions. They have no idea which of their buyers are now selling their product and have no data on the buyers of the second-hand products. They also do not know what products are selling or where they are selling from a marketplace or geographic standpoint. This data could empower brands from a sales and marketing perspective as well as for product and inventory decision making.

2. Customer Experience. With the black-box effect of the marketplaces, brands also lose all control over customer experience. For example, if you bought a Nike product that was listed as “like new” on one of these marketplaces and it came stained and torn, it would likely cause your brand association with Nike to take a hit. In this case, the brand genuinely has no control over product condition, sales process, pricing or delivery timeline. Given the importance of all of these steps for a brand, this can become a major problem if a meaningful percentage of total sales happen on these peer-to-peer marketplaces.

3. Revenue. This may be the most glaringly obvious problem that brands face. Individuals are selling a brand’s products to buyers and the brands do not get any incremental revenue in the transaction