Re-commerce: envisioning a truly sustainable future

Tuesday 31 January 2023 10:25 CET | Editor: Raluca Constantinescu | Interview

Pedro Bennasar, Head of Payments at Vestiaire Collective, explains what ‘re-commerce’ means for online brands, and he elaborates on the main drivers behind this growing global trend.

Businesses are paying more and more attention to circularity and sustainability as an alternative to overproduction and overconsumption. But what exactly does ‘re-commerce’ mean for online brands, and what are the main pillars of this concept? 

The main pillar is sustainability and being more open towards it, but some companies did not focus on this in the past, even though now they are starting to spend more time and put more effort into becoming more sustainable. When it comes to the fashion industry, there are several main challenges that must be overcome, and one of them is fast fashion. In the past 15 years, global clothing production has doubled, as we buy more low-quality items than ever before, but we end up using them 40% less. By saying no to fast fashion and choosing good quality second-hand instead, every individual has the power to contribute to a more sustainable future for the ecommerce industry. 

At Vestiaire Collective, we developed our Climate Strategy, which focuses on reducing our carbon intensity while maximising avoided emissions compared to buying new. We did this by implementing direct shipping – now representing 65% of our transactions versus 40% in 2020 – and reducing our use of air transport for direct shipping by 62%, replacing it with road transport. 

Another important aspect of re-commerce is making sure that fashion reaches everybody, and that everybody can wear whatever they desire, whether it is high-luxury items or more regular clothing. From a payment point of view, we want to make this concept available to as many shoppers as possible. 

The re-commerce sector has experienced rapid growth over the last couple of years. What would be the main drivers behind this growing global trend? 

Climate change has become a hot topic for everybody – from reducing carbon emissions to purchasing organic products. These things are contributing to a cleaner environment and reducing pollution. 

I think that the COVID-19 pandemic also changed our perspective on sustainability and on how our actions impact climate change, determining us to be more conscious about our environmental footprint. For instance, during the massive shutdowns that lasted for several months, we could see the level of emissions going down – and glancing beyond our industry’s horizon, we could also notice that, without the intense human activity, natural life flourished, especially in the oceans. So, seeing this, more and more consumers started changing their behaviours, which led to companies focusing on new business opportunities. They started to produce more organic goods and became more respectful towards the ecosystem. 

When it comes to the payment preferences of Vestiaire Collective’s shoppers, have you noticed any changes in terms of consumer behaviour as a result of industry digitalisation? 

For Vestiaire Collective, cards still represent a big part of the payment mix. However, we are a re-commerce business that sells exclusively online – so, in the past few years, we have invested in providing more alternative payment methods, including BNPL, to meet consumers’ need for a broader range of payment options. 

Following the digitalisation of the payments and ecommerce space and as more consumers own smartphones and have access to a variety of apps, e-wallets have become a popular choice for online payments across the globe – whether it’s through a bank app or other mobile apps provided by various players. Shoppers in Asia in particular are very prone to using e-wallets to pay for goods purchased online – across all verticals, not only in retail. Super apps have become very popular among Asian consumers, as they help you chat, book hotel accommodations, shop, pay, plan travels, and do everything in-between. 

Some other markets, especially in Europe and North America, already are very familiar with instalment payments and BNPL options. Take US consumers, for example – they tend to lean on credit cards and loans often, so having access to solutions that can help them build up their credit score could prove positive. Moreover, as we want to make fashion available to everybody, BNPL solutions help us reach a larger audience. However, we do not push for people to use these alternative payment options unless they can afford to. 

The next big change I see coming is Open Banking because it will provide additional flexibility to shoppers to pay in a blink of an eye and enjoy a seamless experience. 

What are some of the steps international retailers can take themselves to become more eco-friendly and support a sustainable future? 

The very first step in becoming more eco-friendly is production. With 3 out of 5 fast fashion items ending up in landfill, it is vital to make sure that your products would not cause environmental devastation. Another important aspect is encouraging circularity, especially as there is a lot of room for growth in this sector. The second-hand market is already worth 3% to 5% of the overall apparel, footwear, and accessories sector – and it could grow to as much as 40%, depending on macroeconomic conditions. 

Another step we took at Vestiaire Collective is working with brands, retailers, and tech providers to create digital IDs for fashion items. In doing so, we aim to provide consumers with full transparency on the environmental impact of the items they purchase and to enable them to track every step of the journey, from sale to resale to end-of-life. We’re also encouraging discussions on environmental labelling, specifically on how to define durability, by freely sharing our data on the second-hand market. 

Lastly, businesses can look for charities, or they can build their own project and engage shoppers. For instance, there is this small Spanish ecommerce retailer which produces everything on its own with Spanish organic cotton, and everything else is done organically too – and for Black Friday the retailer partnered with a local charity to set up a place where wildlife can be taken care of in case of injury. This is a clear example of how businesses can support a sustainable future: customers purchase items that have been produced organically, and, on top of that, part of the payment goes to a charity. 

However, as with any business strategy, the right approach depends on a brand or retailer’s goals and objectives as well as the needs and expectations of its customers. 

This editorial piece was first published in The Paypers' Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2022–2023, which taps into the fast-growing cross-border market and provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments that are pivotal in this space, being the ultimate source of information for ecommerce businesses interested in expanding globally. 

About Pedro Bennasar 

Pedro joined Vestiaire Collective as Head of Payments almost two years ago, and since then he has been defining and implementing the Group’s Payments Strategy. Passionate about Payments, he has 13 years’ worth of experience in the industry, mostly as a Merchant. He has worked in different sectors, such as Banking, Gambling, Travel, and lastly in Retail/Marketplace, giving him the needed scope to assess objectively any new trends and challenges. 

About Vestiaire Collective 

Vestiaire Collective is the leading global online marketplace for desirable pre-loved fashion. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Paris, our platform is unique thanks to our highly engaged buyers and sellers – and rare inventory of 3 million items including 20,000 daily new-ins. We currently have a diverse global team representing more than 50 nationalities. We stand by our values: community, activism, transparency, dedication, and greatness, and we are proud to be B Corp certified.

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Keywords: sustainability , online shopping, marketplace, Vestiaire Collective, carbon footprint, climate change, customer experience, digitalisation, ecommerce, online payments, retail, BNPL, Open Banking
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Vestiaire Collective
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce

Vestiaire Collective

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