Consumer demand for e-commerce has grown dramatically in recent years, at least partly due to the pandemic. Now recommerce, also known as reverse commerce, is seeing a similar boom.
Brands and consumers are starting to see and value the economic and environmental benefits of recommerce. Jake Disraeli is the co-founder and CEO of Treet, a company that sets up recommerce platforms directly on brands’ websites.
Leading up to FreightWaves’ The Future of Supply Chain event in Northwest Arkansas in May, FreightWaves asked Disraeli about how Treet helps brands resell items and what he predicts the future of recommerce will look like.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
FREIGHTWAVES: How did you get the idea to start Treet?
DISRAELI: “I studied entrepreneurship and environmental studies in college and was always interested in seeing how these two fields can connect in powerful ways. The most impressive businesses, in my opinion, are able to provide the highest value to financial stakeholders while contributing positively to the world around them.
“With this in mind, I launched multiple direct-to-consumer businesses on Shopify that incorporated sustainability in some way. After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs at Indiegogo to help launch their products through crowdfunding, I set off to start my own circular fashion brand.
“I quickly began to appreciate the difficulty of creating circular business models, especially as a small brand with little to no resources. Creating the tech infrastructure to enable the customer experiences I was setting out for was going to be a daunting task, let alone building the brand, designing the apparel and manufacturing.
“That was the ‘aha moment’ where we realized we can create a much larger impact by building the platform to enable any and every e-commerce brand to accomplish what I was setting out to do.”
FREIGHTWAVES: What is the process like for a company that wants to work with you to resell items online?
DISRAELI: “Treet enables companies to launch their fully branded resale experience in just a couple of weeks. Getting the sites built is rather straightforward, involving an integration with the brand’s main site and a bit of custom styling to make it look and feel on-brand.
“From there, we encourage brands to open up the ‘sell’ side of their peer-to-peer experience first, inviting their customers to list items in time for the launch.
“With a few targeted messages for sellers, they’re able to gather an influx of listings to fill out the virtual shelves of their marketplace. Once there’s enough inventory, which could take one to two weeks, it’s time to launch the shop and enable customers to buy and sell items from each other.”
FREIGHTWAVES: How much demand is there for recommerce?
DISRAELI: “The number of brands jumping into recommerce is accelerating at a rapid pace. Before 2021, you could count the number of brand-driven resale experiences on two hands. By the end of 2021, we launched nearly 40 resale experiences on Treet alone.
“This is largely due to a few driving forces: the rise in conscious consumerism, the growth in resale and the technology to help brands participate. According to ThredUp’s recent resale report, resale is expected to grow 11 times faster than retail [by 2025], and 60% of retailers have or are open to offering secondhand items to their customers.
“In the coming years, offering a resale solution to customers will become table stakes.”
FREIGHTWAVES: How do you think recommerce impacts people, the planet and the businesses that decide to resell items?
DISRAELI: “Resale offers a ton of benefits for everyone involved. Starting with brands, they’re able to generate revenue from items sold multiple times over and provide a path for getting customers to come back to their brand, leading to increases in customer loyalty and lifetime value.
“Their customers benefit by being able to sell their items faster and at a higher price than anywhere online. Since they can easily list items directly from their order history in a trusted community, for many it’s their first time selling online.
“The planet is the last and most important beneficiary of resale. According to the ThredUp report I mentioned earlier, buying a used item displaces the need to manufacture a new one, reducing its carbon footprint by about 82%.
“With fashion being one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, resale provides a promising path to lessening fashion’s devastating impact.”
FREIGHTWAVES: How complicated are the logistics and shipping for items being resold online?
DISRAELI: “Most of the items bought and sold on Treet resale sites are sent directly from one customer to another with a number of safeguards in place to make sure it’s the safest place to buy and sell secondhand.
“Our team reviews every listing before going live to make sure it matches the original item and there aren’t any visible issues to note. Once an item sells, we automatically generate shipping labels for the seller then wait for it to arrive and be verified by the buyer before disbursing funds.
“Brands are also using their resale sites to sell what we call ‘brand direct’ inventory, or anything they haven’t historically been able to sell on their main dot-com, like samples, factory seconds, photoshoot units or returned items.”
FREIGHTWAVES: What do you think the future of recommerce will look like?
DISRAELI: “The Business of Fashion recently came out with a report that claimed only 5% to 8% of resellable fashion is being resold. In order to significantly increase this percentage, we need to make buying secondhand as easy as shopping firsthand.
“Consumer mindsets and shopping preferences are gravitating to resale at an accelerating pace, and our infrastructure to make resale a no-brainer will develop to keep up.
“In the future, people will see their clothing as assets, not items to be disposed of after use. Brands will take a leading role in bringing this reality to fruition. As the creators and sellers of the items themselves, they’ll be responsible for ensuring every item lives its longest life before being recycled responsibly.”
FREIGHTWAVES: What advice do you have for brands considering resale?
“With branded resale still being a fairly new concept, it can seem daunting for brands to consider owning this part of their customer journey. My advice is to simply start the conversation.
“Resale doesn’t need to be as complicated as you think. It can be such a low lift way toward being a more sustainable brand.”