Reselling is big business, especially in the age of the internet, where the recommerce trend has really taken off in recent years.
From couch flipping specialists who turn unwanted furniture into a viable business venture to vintage clothing sellers who take thrift store fodder and reinvigorate it to inspire new trends, the second-hand economy is booming.
So just how much is this market worth, and what are the pressures that apply to it which can impinge upon the profits of its most successful operators?
Fashion leads the way
The most striking corner of the resale sector is occupied by apparel, with studies suggesting that by the end of the decade it will be worth a staggering $84 billion.
To put this in context, this is more than twice the projected value of the so-called ‘fast fashion’ market, which has faced mounting criticism because of its focus on high volumes and low prices, leading to both environmental concerns and fears over working conditions.
Conversely, reselling pre-loved clothing has the benefit of being sustainable, ecologically sound, and of course an appealing option for budget-conscious buyers as well.
Of course, this is not a pure-profit process, and vintage clothing is far from being a modern trend. There are costs to bear, whether operating out of bricks and mortar premises or selling solely via recommerce platforms like eBay.
From building rents to fees on auction sites and associated platforms, sellers have to be savvy to the expenses they face.
So what are eBay’s fees? Account type plays a part, as does the item in question. There are also maximum limits, all of which can be calculated easily to give sellers an idea of how much they can make, and thus how to price their products.
Furniture is finding its feet
For a long time, fashion was definitely more of a mover and shaker in the reselling business, but recently there has been an uptick in the sale of second-hand furniture, again as a result of online tools shaping consumer trends.
While the $16.6 billion estimated value of this market worldwide seems like a drop in the ocean in comparison with fashion, it is still representative of a huge and vibrant scene, ranging from back-to-basic items to upcycled units, to genuine vintage pieces and beyond.
The likes of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace have opened up furniture reselling to a much larger proportion of the population than ever before.
While lots of old furniture is simply given away, because bulky items tend to be trickier to resell, this has only helped to fuel the secondary market of upcycling, as mentioned earlier.
The practice of couch flipping, for example, means outdated items which are still structurally serviceable can be reupholstered and sold on for a significant profit by the people with the right tools and the right skills.
Like the fashion recommerce sector, this is a very sustainable market, and it is also self-perpetuating. When items get resold, they will eventually appear back in the loop, moving towards the circular economy which so many experts are calling for more people and industries to embrace.
Electronics and beyond
Fashion and furniture are two of the more conspicuous and oft-discussed segments of the reselling business, but there are many more parts to consider as well.
Second-hand electronics, whether resold by retailers or individuals, are on track to make $38.9 billion by 2025, and many of the aspects already covered are present here as well.
So for sellers as well as buyers, reselling has never been bigger, better, or more varied, which opens up opportunities on both sides.