Home Fashion products IKEA, the latest brand to tap into the booming second-hand market

IKEA, the latest brand to tap into the booming second-hand market

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Ikea Australia launched ‘As-Is Online’ last week, an online shopping platform where customers can book second-hand IKEA furniture and homewares returned through the retailer’s Buy Back service, as well as discontinued items and ex-showroom displays.

The launch follows similar moves by other Australian retailers to sell their own second-hand stock through new online platforms or partnerships with pre-existing resale companies.

David Jones has a partnership with luxury retailer Blue Spinach, while online retailer The Iconic has a partnership with second-hand fashion marketplace AirRobe.

When the David Jones deal was announced last year, Blue Spinach co-founder Jane Thompson said most of the stigma attached to buying second-hand items had disappeared over the past 20 years. .

“Renewing, recycling, reusing and restoring are really just a key part of our thought processes today,” she said.

Key factors

Consumer demand is driving the trend.

Queensland University of Technology consumer and retail expert Gary Mortimer said the rise in resale platforms shows retailers are responding to consumer concerns about the volumes of waste created by consumption everything from fashion to furniture.

“The circular economy is becoming a very important point for competition,” said Dr Mortimer.

“As consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability issues, reusing, recycling [and] upcycling, they will turn to merchants who offer this service.

A recent Finder report shows that more than half of Australians have become more aware of their environmental impact since the start of the pandemic, with 44% of consumers considering a brand’s green efforts to be “very” or “extremely” important when of a purchase. decision.

The survey coincides with a growing awareness of the negative effects of “fast fashion” (clothing produced in large quantities and sold at low prices).

Fashion produces more than 92 million tons of waste and consumes 1.5 trillion tons of water per year.

Fast fashion retailers like Shein and Boohoo have made it cheap and easy to keep up with the latest fashion trends, but their popularity comes at an environmental cost.

Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new clothes and throw around 23 kilograms of clothes into landfill per person each year.

Erin Skinner, a PhD student at the University of South Australia who is leading a study into Australians’ knowledge of fast and slow mode, said the industry also produces around 20% of the world’s wastewater and produces more emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined. .

“Such phenomenal waste is clearly unsustainable, so it is vital that the sector educates consumers about alternative options,” she said.

Second hand up

The circular economy aims to reduce waste by reusing materials and products wherever possible, and consumers have taken matters into their own hands by buying and selling items on platforms such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Depop , which has 30 million users worldwide.

Dr Mortimer said retailers are now jumping on this bandwagon and offering consumers a way to shop second-hand without having to worry about counterfeit or stolen goods.

“If I buy something like a purse or an office chair from a neighbor, and something goes wrong, can I get my money back?” he said.

“When dealing with a retailer, I can be assured that the proper checks and balances have been taken care of.

“If the product does not work [or] if it fails very quickly, i can go back to that retailer and get an exchange or refund. »

Ikea
What second-hand shopping looks like with IKEA.

The brands enter the fray

Retailers are taking different approaches to joining the circular economy.

IKEA’s As-Is Online platform allows shoppers to browse discounted products online, but requires the purchase to be made in-store.

The Iconic, meanwhile, invites buyers to register their interest in reselling their items with AirRobe when making their first purchase.

AirRobe then saves their purchase details so buyers can check out their items and resell them on the site in the future.

Although more retailers should explore ways to make their businesses more sustainable in the future, Dr Mortimer said smaller businesses would struggle to introduce similar initiatives due to higher costs.

“I think consumers need to be aware that there is an additional cost to providing this particular service,” he said.

“A normal transaction is: I go to IKEA, I buy the product, I take it away.

“Now the transaction is: I bring the product back to IKEA, then IKEA has to provide personnel to check the product. They have to clean the product. They may have to repair the product. They have to repackage the product. They have to fix the price of the product and resell the product.

“That could work for very large global retailers like IKEA…but you might not see a small retailer that has very low margins – big discount stores, for example – in this space.”