Ebay: embedding circularity into fashion retail – Drapers

Ebay: embedding circularity into fashion retail – Drapers

22 December 2021
Jemma Tadd, head of fashion at Ebay UK, says end-of-life resales are an open goal for brands – and can support the environment, the bottom line, and shopper loyalty.
With the climate crisis quite rightly at the forefront of our collective awareness, shoppers are more aware of the need to combine their love of fashion with their respect for the planet.
Shopping second hand is playing a huge role in this, and has exploded in popularity: Kantar’s market share report, published in April, suggests 46% growth in the last two years alone, and at Ebay we are seeing double-digit growth in pre-loved outerwear, dresses and bags in the year to date compared with last year.

Ebay launched its authentication service in 2021

The reasons for this are twofold: sustainable shopping is more accessible than ever before, and second-hand products are more reliable than they have ever been.
Brands and platforms like ours have a clear responsibility to deliver a circular way of shopping
Brands that are far along in their journey with this are even starting to focus on circular design at the very early concept stage, considering the end of life of a garment from the outset. This is essential to enabling a strong second-hand market and building a truly circular economy.
That said, there is still quite a way to go before the circular economy is mainstream, and we’re seeing some reluctance among brands to commit to it wholeheartedly. They are worried that reselling items may take away sales from new items or denigrate their brand – but they shouldn’t be.
From what we have seen, the opposite is true: second-hand sales increase long-term customer loyalty to brands, open up a new customer base and create conversation.
The second-hand market is an open goal: almost every item (95%) of discarded clothing can be re-used or upcycled, says sustainable fashion innovation platform Fashion for Good. So not only does pre-loved provide value for customers, it can also help extend the lifecycle of products, reduce waste, and unlock the value of excess stock and items at the end of their life.
Brands and platforms like ours have a clear responsibility to deliver a circular way of shopping, by making it easier for customers. To do this, the fashion industry will need to look outside itself and to others.
Next year, we expect an increase in brand partnerships with experts that can help support the transition. Partnerships might be with logistics experts – which can offer guidance on the process of getting items from back of house to warehouses for resale – or digital experts who can provide the framework to sell second-hand items online.
At Ebay, we want to be the enabler of pre-loved trade. We’re collaborating with companies leading the way in this, such as Reskinned, which uses Ebay to sell products that come directly from high street brands offering buy-back schemes to customers to sell unwanted clothes.
We also went even further with our authentication guarantee earlier this year. Experts physically inspect goods before they’re sent to the buyer or returned to the seller, providing confidence in high-value pre-loved items.
With logistics sorted, the next big challenge is how fashion brands can stamp their identity on the garment and buying experience throughout its lifecycle, from new to selling to a second-hand buyer.
Shoppers want an experience that is as good as (or better than) buying new, so brands need to create an exciting second-hand retail experience.
We work directly with fashion brands including River Island, Seasalt and Monsoon to embed resale models, showcase their end-of-line and pre-loved inventory and learn more about their customers after point of sale.

Ebay works with brands including Seasalt

We’re also helping customers move towards a “one in, one out” mentality, by making it appealing and easy to resell items they may replace or no longer have use for. It was encouraging to see almost half a million people list products to sell on Ebay UK in the week following Black Friday.
This circular model helps extend the lifecycle of products, reduce waste and support brands’ and customers’ ambitions to be part of a sustainable shopping economy.
It’s a win-win: customers can get the brands they know and love at a lower cost to them and the environment. And the fashion industry can make progress on its emission reduction targets – which it won’t be able to achieve through sustainable materials sourcing alone.
We’ve seen great uptake of our second-hand services in recent years, which we only expect to increase in 2022. Especially with uncertainty weighing heavy on people’s minds, getting end of life items from brands they love will be an attractive idea to deal-seekers.
Extracting the full value from stock is a no-brainer. At Ebay, pre-loved is part of our DNA – and we’re looking forward to seeing more fashion retailers making it part of theirs, too, in the year ahead.
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