The rise of re-commerce: Breathing new life into the fashion industry

As we’re seeing explosive growth in re-commerce in the fashion industry, it’s not only the planet that’s breathing a sigh of relief. As well as the well-known environmental impacts; the rise of fast fashion from big-box retailers over the past few years have become a big issue for smaller, sustainable fashion businesses trying to make an impact. However, fashion resale platforms and second hand shopping is becoming a powerful way to help combat the big issues of waste and sustainability in the fashion industry, and help people stretch their money further in a time of inflation.

The rise of re-commerce around the world

According to the 2022 thredUP report, which provides an in-depth look into the resale market, secondhand shopping is becoming a global phenomenon, expected to grow 127% by 2026. In true Millenial and Gen Z fashion, it looks to be these younger generations that are leading the charge to a more thrifty future, with a huge 62% of Gen Z and Millennials saying they look for an item secondhand before buying it new, and 46% considering the resale value of a clothing item before buying it.

This isn’t only due to the environmental benefits favoured by younger generations; there’s also the global cost of living increase that’s having a big impact on the spending habits of consumers, and not just for young people. We know that inflation is making necessities like fresh food and personal care more expensive, and it’s getting harder and harder for people to allocate their disposable income to nice-to-have items like new clothes and shoes. 

This means that fast-fashion is in even more demand, because people want to update their wardrobe, but can’t afford to invest in sustainable, quality products that will last for years. So it’s no surprise that, according to the report, the pressure of a high cost of living is causing consumers to spend less on clothing, with 44% of people cutting back on clothing spend – more than any other category except restaurants.

So, what’s driving re-commerce growth?

We know that inflation and sustainability are two of the major causes for the resale popularity, but technology and online secondhand marketplaces are driving it forward in full force. A great example of this is Depop, a mobile marketplace which allows you to not only buy second hand apparel, but also see what your friends and the people you’re inspired by are liking, buying, and selling.     

The shift towards slow, sustainable fashion also means good things for the re-commerce market; with more high-quality clothing enjoying the longevity to have several different owners in its lifetime, rather than ending up in a landfill after a few wears due to poor quality fabric and production. In fact, the sustainable clothing brands that have started their own resale shops are not only helping to set industry standards, but are also promoting brand loyalty by encouraging people to buy their clothing, with the option to re-sell it when it no longer fits, or they discover new styles. 

The fall of free returns will help to turn the tide

The free return policies of many big box, fast fashion ecommerce retailers like ASOS, The Iconic, and Boohoo make it easy to buy and return multiple items. Global consumer statistics show that clothing and apparel has the highest return rate in ecommerce at 26%, and a Shopify Fashion Industry Report reveals that this number can even get as high as 50% in some markets. 

The big issue here is that only around 50% of most returns can be resold, and what can’t be resold is typically sent to landfills, making the fashion industry the world’s second-biggest polluter. According to a recent article, in the US, 2.6m tonnes of returned goods end up in landfill every year, generating 15m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The growth of re-commerce and consumer awareness (not to mention the financial impact) means that some big box retailers are now starting to reconsider the free return offering, making way for smaller, more sustainable brands who have less impact on the environment to enter the market and promote the creation of high quality garments for a future of thrifting.

The future of retail is resale

The thredUP report tells us the global resale market is expected to grow 16 x faster than the broader retail clothing sector by 2026, and many retailers are now embracing a resale offering to meet consumer demand, with 3 in 4 retail executives saying they have or are open to offering second hand to their customers.

With more high-quality new garments entering the market, the original purchasers will have greater confidence in the lifetime value of the product they buy, and the ability to be able to re-sell them if they’re well taken care of. More and more consumers are demanding that the fashion industry focuses more on quality and longevity of goods, rather than fast-fashion and consumerism. 

In fact, resale is now becoming a strategic priority for many retailers; up there with the importance of customer personalisation, and genuine omnichannel retail experiences that encourage brand adoption and loyalty. Online resale will be one of the keys to unlocking its potential, with the customer’s online experience having a huge impact on retail success. All businesses need to be considering engaging omni-channel digital strategies to bring their brand personalities to life, and resale is no exception. You just need to look at the rise of video-only platforms like Tik Tok, and Instagram’s new format optimised towards video content, to know that just having plain old 2D brand imagery isn’t going to cut it anymore for ecommerce businesses. 

Including engaging video content, imagery, and other digital assets has become, and will continue to be, a vital piece to every retail strategy puzzle, and Depop is one of those resale marketplace platforms that’s nailing the ecommerce experience, with omnichannel content, engaging imagery, and clear product images that show the consumer exactly what they’re going to get. 

International Asset Factory clients such as Porter James, Kowtow and Stolen Girlfriend’s Club are leading the ecommerce experience; making changes to improve and align their omnichannel strategies to appeal to consumers. As well as improved website navigation, brands are now simulating an in-store fitting room experience with filtered views that allow people to see garments and accessories across a range of different formats and angles – including products stills, flat lay, on a ghost mannequin, and on model

With more conscious consumers than ever, new sustainable fashion businesses and stores popping up everyday, and retail re-commerce spend on the rise, investing in your customer experience and engaging brand content is even more vital; and that’s where Asset Factory comes in. Our innovative product photography and video technology automates and streamlines your content creation to keep up with your content demands, and makes it quick and easy to create engaging product content for a single product, or hundreds of products in one session. 

Our expert team of creative product photography experts and stylists are also on-hand to guide you, and help you create incredible product content that will enhance your customer engagement, help drive traffic to your ecommerce business, and boost your sales. 

Get in touch with us to chat about your content goals, or to book a tour of our Auckland or Melbourne studios.