Retailers need to utilise the secondary market for the good of the environment and bottom lines

By B-Stock’s EMEA Director, Ben Whitaker.

Increasing pressure on society to actively reduce climate change has placed a growing demand on the retail industry to follow suit. Retailers are expected to act and operate sustainably in line with their environmentally conscious customers.

Globally, returns and excess inventory exceed $1.2 trillion dollars. Consumers are buying and returning goods at an unprecedented rate leaving retailers with high volumes of unwanted stock sitting on warehouse shelves and depreciating in value. As returns policies become more tailored to shopping convenience and in favour of the customer experience, retailers are left to manage the masses of returned stock.

It is important for retailers to understand that it’s not too late to turn their previously unsustainable processes around. Destroying overstock by sending it directly to landfill or burning it is no longer a solution. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of retailers who are instead turning to sustainable equivalents to re-purpose, re-cycle and minimise the impact on the planet.

In 2017 alone, a fast fashion retailer collected over 17 thousand tonnes of unwanted garments. These items were then categorised by garment quality and then re-sold as second-hand goods, reused by being turned into other products such as industrial cloth, or were completely deconstructed and recycled for future use. While this operation is possible for larger enterprises, many other retailers are unable to offer such processes. This is where the secondary market fits in.

Liquidation marketplaces provide retailers with an online auction platform where they can sell their returned stock directly to a diverse base of approved secondary market buyers. To date, B-Stock’s retail clients have enabled the recycling, repurposing, reuse or resale of over 180 million items through a total of 338,748 auctions. Collectively, retailers leveraging secondary market channels are significantly reducing their environmental impact whilst reducing losses on otherwise unsellable returned stock.

By both extending the lifecycle of products and minimising the impact on the environment, the secondary market ensures the supply chain process remains socially conscious as the inventory goes from seller to reseller to a secondary end user.

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