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Zalando Makes a Play for Pre-Owned Fashion

European e-commerce giant Zalando is breaking ground in the world of fashion resale.

The e-tailer announced plans for its “Pre-owned” platform this week, allowing consumers to buy and trade in their used clothing.

According to Torben Hansen, vice president of re-commerce, the new program will traffic in gently worn items—a solution that does not currently exist at scale in the European market, despite the high demand.

“I think Zalando Pre-owned has the potential to completely change the way our customers think about and interact with pre-owned fashion,” he said, “as they are finally presented with one convenient, enjoyable and trustworthy solution.”

Hansen was quick to differentiate the Pre-owned concept from a typical secondhand shopping experience. In a statement, he said that the company would infuse the act of buying used clothing with a high degree of quality controls and convenience. The platform “gives customers access to a curated selection of quality checked items, presented with professional photographs and product details to ensure a consistent look and feel on our platform,” he said.

Any purchases made through Pre-owned will also be subject to the same benefits—like fast shipping, 100-day returns, and multiple payment options—that any other Zalando purchase would warrant, he added.

The program will accept apparel from more than 3,000 brands, including but not limited to those found on the Zalando site. In order to sell their wares, consumers must take photos of each item they wish to sell and upload relevant information, like category and brand, to the Pre-owned portal. Items that were originally bought on Zalando appear in the wardrobe section of a shopper’s account, so the information is readily available.

After uploading photos and details, users will automatically see pricing offers on their clothing and will have the chance to accept or decline. Once through with this process, they mail in their items (up to 20 at a time), where they’re subjected to quality checks.

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Users can also choose whether their Pre-owned submissions generate Zalando credit for future shopping or go to charitable donations, Hansen said. At present, the Berlin-based company is focused on launching successfully in Germany, Spain, Poland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, with plans to expand into other markets in time.

The Pre-owned program represents a step forward in Zalando’s ambitions to become more sustainable, he added. “At Zalando we will apply the principles of circularity to our business, by using more sustainable materials and keeping items in use for longer.”

The company will also be testing plastic-free, recycled packaging on Pre-owned orders as a part of its goal to eliminate single-use plastic across its operations. Zalando, which serves more than 27 million customers in 17 countries, declared itself “climate neutral” in October.

In August, the retailer set a goal to make even greater cuts to its emissions by setting Science Based Targets in line with the Paris Agreement. It has committed to reducing its CO2 impact across its business and operations by 80 percent, and throughout its products by 40 percent, by 2025.