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Zalando Opens Up Pre-Owned Platform to Seven New Markets

As the secondhand market continues to boom, Berlin-based e-commerce juggernaut Zalando is expanding upon its Pre-owned shopping and selling scheme.

This week, the European fashion marketplace announced that it would open up its resale platform, which launched last fall, to seven new markets. Now, the company’s shoppers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy and Sweden will have access to a curated selection of quality-controlled used garments, and will be able to sell their own pre-owned wares through the site as well.

According to Torben Hansen, Zalando’s re-commerce vice president, the move will help the company expand its secondhand strategy across the bulk of Europe. Pre-owned’s fall launch centered around Zalando’s home market of Germany, as well as Spain, Poland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Hansen said there is a growing “urgency for our industry to invest in pre-owned to enable customers to make more sustainable choices,” especially amid the pandemic, which has seen shoppers become markedly more conscious about their consumption habits.

“We knew that there was a high demand for an attractive one-stop-shop offer for pre-owned fashion,” Hansen said, adding that Zalando was the first European fashion platform to offer such a solution at scale. “Conducting our own research has further confirmed how much consumers care about making more sustainable choices,” he added.

The group’s data showed that shoppers between the ages of 18 and 29 are increasingly gravitating toward pre-owned fashion due to environmental concerns. But in the internet age, they’ve been lacking a simple solution that allows them to trade in their clothes as well as enjoy a first-rate online shopping experience, Hansen argued.

“We accept like-new items without signs of use from over 3,000 common brands,” he said. To sell, shoppers must upload a photo of each garment they’re ready to part with, noting the item’s brand and category. If they originally purchased the item on Zalando, that criteria is autofilled. Through the site, shoppers can see the amount of credit they’ll receive for their trade-in, and choose whether to receive it as a gift card or to donate the funds to the Red Cross or WeForest. Shoppers are then sent a shipping label for up to 20 pre-owned items, which are sent to the company for a quality check before being dispatched to their new homes.

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Customer feedback on the program’s rollout has been “very positive,” Hansen said, noting, “We’ve seen continuously growing demand since the launch.” The interest has prompted Zalando to augment its selection of like-new secondhand offerings from 20,000 to 75,000. “The rapid market internationalization [of re-commerce] speaks for itself,” he added.

That enthusiastic adoption has also likely been accelerated by the company’s attention to the customer experience, he added. “They especially appreciate the speedy delivery, the convenience in payment and returns options, and the plastic-free packaging,” Hansen said. Meanwhile, the product selection is both wide-ranging and curated, he noted, giving consumers the benefit of choice while tailoring offerings to what’s in demand. Presented with professional photographs and product details to ensure consistency with its standard offerings, the Pre-owned selection maintains the same “look and feel” as the rest of the Zalando brand, he said.

“We are eliminating many pain points that customers might face when using other fashion re-commerce services,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about bad pictures, fake brands, negotiating prices or figuring out how to ship items and safely transfer money between buyer and seller.” By contrast, pure peer-to-peer selling platforms like eBay and Poshmark, among others, allow products to change hands without company vetting.

The latest developments in Zalando’s Pre-owned program tie into the company’s goal of extending the life of 50 million fashion items by 2023, Hansen said.

“The worldwide demand for pre-owned fashion is expected to increase heavily over the next few years, so there is a lot of room for us to grow,” he added. “But for now, we want to focus our attention on ramping up the category in the seven new markets before looking into any further expansions.”