eBay is one of the world’s largest online shopping platforms, and have carved a unique niche for themselves in their 26 years of operation. Since the company’s launch in 1995, recommerce (that is, the sale of second-hand goods) has been an important part of their business since day one. In their new report dedicated to the prevalence and benefits of recommerce, eBay outlines all the ways second-hand sales between consumers have helped them.
First of all, recommerce on eBay is a growing practice. Among eBay’s C2C customers (customers who buy from other consumers), the percentage of people who have bought second-hand goods in the past year by country ranges from 81% (the United Kingdom) to 68% (Canada). When asked about the demand for pre-owned products, more than 7 in 10 US eBay sellers said that demand has grown in recent years. This trend is especially noticeable among Gen Z, suggesting the stigma surrounding shopping second hand could be fading with time.
What’s Causing the Rise in Demand?
The most obvious answer is the recent recession. During times of economic hardship, consumers seek out affordable alternatives to buying new goods. Recommerce tends to offer a compelling alternative. Due to the complications the pandemic placed on traditional resale sites such as garage sales and thrift stores, eBay benefitted from their virtual format. For these reasons, the possibility exists that demand for recommerce may recede as economic conditions improve. However, if the stigma around buying used is indeed on its way out, there is also the chance that recommerce is here to stay. More people than ever have been exposed to the benefits of recommerce, and they may be loath to give those perks up.
Economic opportunity is a major component of recommerce. Both the buyer and seller can walk away served under recommerce. As mentioned before, buyers may shop at far more affordable price points than they would see in the new goods market. eBay’s auction format allows them to haggle on exact prices as well, letting the power of negotiation lead them to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
On the seller’s side, low barriers to market entry mean anyone can become a resale merchant. In 2020, 68% of eBay sellers in the UK did exactly that so they could make extra cash. It is estimated that Americans own 36 household items on average that could sell well in a resale environment. Should one be willing to part with these items, they could make up to $3675 in supplemental income. Though this seller position is temporary for most, one can also turn it into a permanent gig. For example, eBay seller Nicole DiSanto began her online store in 2006 to specialize in the yard and estate sale finds.
Recommerce Benefits Everyone
Recommerce benefits eBay, eBay sellers, and customers alike. But that’s not all; recommerce is also a major boon to the environment! Recommerce helps the planet in two key ways. When someone buys a used good, that good’s trip to the landfill is postponed. Buying a used good also forgoes purchases of a new good, which would have needed water, energy, and other resources to create. Even on goods that weren’t made in an eco-friendly way, reselling them can be a greener choice than buying a new product made more ethically. As a green living enthusiast, Hannah Stringer put it, “eco-friendly items… are often more expensive and cost-prohibitive for many communities. In actuality, recommerce is the most effective strategy as a consumer taking on a climate crisis.”