Since eBay first got their start in 1995, sales between two customers (C2C transactions) have been an important part of their business model. Under the C2C umbrella exists recommerce, the process by which a pre-owned good changes hands. eBay is so thrilled with the amount of recommerce happening on their site that they have launched the new recommerce report to underscore their commitments. Below are the main points of that report.
The first takeaway is that recommerce is rising in prominence. When surveyed, over 70% of US eBay sellers agree that purchases of pre-owned products have grown in recent years. Among the youngest generation of consumers (those aged 18 to 24), buying secondhand goods has reportedly become more common in 2020 specifically. Data backs this claim up: among 5 countries in which eBay operates (the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, and Canada), the percent of C2C customers who bought pre-owned goods in the last 12 months ranges from 81% to 68%.
What is causing this rise in recommerce? The most widely accepted explanation is the pandemic-induced recession. When people have less money to go around, they are less likely to buy new things. eBay may have benefitted from the conditions of the pandemic especially due to their online format. Traditional second hand retail sites like yard sales and thrift stores faced extra constraints from the need to stop the spread of COVID-19. While this explanation implies the recommerce trend may be reversible, it is also possible that the rise in secondhand shopping will erode the stigma surrounding the practice. If that is the case, then recommerce will remain strong in the coming years.
As more people are realizing, recommerce benefits both seller and consumer. Sellers win in a market with extremely low barriers to entry. The average American possesses 36 items worthy of resale in their household. If they agree to part with said items, they can gain an additional $3675 in income. Should they wish to turn recommerce into more than a temporary side hustle going forward, they can always follow the example of Nicole DiSanto and scour yard and estate sales for hidden treasures. On the side of the buyer, secondhand items usually sell for far less money than new ones. eBay’s auction style format makes it possible for strapped consumers to lower an item’s price even further, should the seller agree. By engaging in negotiation, both seller and buyer can reach a mutually beneficial arrangement in their dealings with one another.
Beyond people, recommerce also has important benefits to offer the planet. Secondhand shopping helps the environment in two major ways: it diverts used items from entering a landfill and it spares the water, energy, and other resources that would have been needed to produce a new good. In the markets of electronics and apparel alone, recommerce on eBay conserved 720,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. Imagine what eBay could do if more people switched to buying pre-owned! Recommerce has the power to benefit everyone.