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. »
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.”