It’s Monday, 7am, and with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I’ve listed my biggest challenges and hindrances to growing my 3-year-old marketplace, StyleTribute, a Southeast Asian pioneer in secondhand luxury.
My whiteboard now reads:
- How do we scale the supply of inventory and acquire new sellers?
- How do we reduce operational costs while improving the quality of product listings?
- How do we eliminate risk of counterfeited assortment?
After years of work in the industry, I realized that many of StyleTribute’s challenges were driven by retailers operating completely disconnected from the secondhand segment. I had an “aha” moment, realizing that by connecting these previously separated channels, I could eliminate some inefficiency in the market and bring value back to its key stakeholders. This was the genesis of my latest venture, an innovative resale service, Reflaunt.
Reflaunt acts as the link between the of firsthand and secondhand markets – introducing and engaging brands and retailers into the secondhand market by providing personalized resale services. By removing the burden of any upfront outlay from both brands and its customers, Reflaunt helps retailers venture into the uncharted market segment of secondhand.
These three issues will not solve themselves if each player works separately. Instead, through collaboration and cohesive effort, we can work together to cease inefficiencies and build a viable, sustainable future for resale. Until now, the shopping experience of purchasing a firsthand product and reselling the item in a secondhand marketplace have been two entirely disconnected experiences, even though they involve the same customer and the same product. How can this be efficient?
Now, let’s look into it.
1. How do we scale the supply of inventory and acquire new sellers?
One of the marketplaces’ biggest challenges is to grow inventory and, more specifically, to attract a supply of coveted pieces which can be sold at a competitive pricing. This limits control on the short to mid-term supply marketplaces are able to collect, and naturally, sales will be dependent upon this supply. Overall, there are still valid frictions to converting firsthand customers into secondhand sellers, and the resale trend still requires more education to be more widely adopted.
With 70% of shoppers still purchasing single-use outfits, the challenge lies in unlocking value from this mindset. Customers often do not consider resale for their idle pieces, due to a lack of general awareness about secondhand benefits or difficulties in conceptualizing the immediate value trade-off among others. Reflaunt makes the decision easier with instant valuation, powered by data analytics on thousands of resale listings and transactions.
Once these two channels are integrated, the communication between brands and resale can be streamlined. This provides the opportunity to offer incentives across both markets, encouraging and supporting resale activities and more thoughtful consumption habits from within. The opportunity to recapture value from preloved items on the resale market provides this incentive to extend an item’s product life or rather make the active choice to select more valuable pieces upfront.
2. How do we reduce operational costs while improving the quality of product listings?
Depending on the type of secondhand business model, operations are highly tedious. While often behind the scenes for most resale users, operational steps can include photo-shooting, item description, and pricing based on several different attributes such as category, brand, age, or condition among others. Whether marketplaces operate by taking on operations like TheRealReal, or leaving it up to the user like Poshmark, someone ends up having to do the time-consuming work. Marketplaces that allow their customers to photograph the items often suffer from poor quality images, which can misrepresent the true quality or value of the piece and decrease sell-through rates.
Reflaunt is able to simplify the listing process, building a seamless journey where customers create their product listing in a few clicks. Reflaunt’s collective brand database and proprietary pricing algorithm allows us to improve product descriptions and provide optimal pricing, ensuring highest possible payout. By improving listing quality and providing accurate price visibility, Reflaunt’s resale service creates significant value for marketplaces. Finally, our model unlocks value for the brand and their customer by allowing sellers to be rewarded in brand’s shopping credits. This allows customers to receive a higher return while improving sales and brands’ customer loyalty.
3. How do we eliminate risk of counterfeited assortment?
According to the OECD, counterfeit accounts for a staggering $450 billion market. Authentication remains a challenge in the secondhand market and is very much dependent on the skills of in-house experts. On the other hand, the mere existence of this counterfeit market harms the credibility and trust between buyers and sellers. Currently, many pieces are purchased without any form of authenticity certificate, leaving customers without the necessary credibility and therefore harming their opportunities for future resale.
Reflaunt’s integration allows brands and customers to trace purchase data and transaction history. With the brands’ involvement and cooperation in the resale of their own items, seamless product tracing provides secondhand buyers with a more secure resale experience. While not removing the concern or opportunity of counterfeit completely, access to supplementary data will decrease the likelihood of counterfeit. Total integration of these two markets allows clear visibility over the product journey over its entire lifetime and boosts its credibility. Reflaunt’s resale services are already collecting critical information to deter future authenticity claims and, with time, will help clear further confusions in the future.
Reflaunt is my proposed solution to the challenges many face in the resale industry. The secondhand market is predicted to take up 10% of the total apparel market as of 2022, and fashion brands and retailers are now ready to enter this space. Reflaunt provides them a range of solutions to define and build their own fully integrated resale experience.
Our mission is to build a more cooperative and inclusive fashion industry centered around circularity and sustainability. It takes all players and stakeholders together to spur radical change. Reflaunt’s resale services are only the first step, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Until then, I will keep heading back to my whiteboard to plan and reimagine this exciting age of fashion innovation.