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Chain Reaction: Trove’s Andy Ruben on How Resale Can Help Improve Supply Chain Logistics

Chain Reaction is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on today’s logistics challenges and learn about ways their company is working to keep the flow of goods moving. Here, Andy Ruben, founder and executive chairman at Trove, discusses how the company is helping brands and retailers looking to expand their offerings into resale with its technology.

Andy Ruben, founder and executive chairman, Trove Courtesy

Name: Andy Ruben

Title: Founder and Executive Chairman

Company: Trove 

What is Trove’s latest initiative?

Trove is the market leader in branded resale for world-class brands like Allbirds, Arc’teryx, Canada Goose, Carhartt, Levi’s, Lululemon, Patagonia, REI and more. Additionally, we power brands with scale, profit and customer experience through our Recommerce Operating System, which unlocks pricing and merchandising for millions of unique items with insights to optimize every part of the circular journey.

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Most recently, we launched Trove’s inaugural Brand Resale Index: Defining the Resale Experience. The Index evaluated over 40 brands in four industry verticals—fashion/apparel, outdoor, footwear and luxury—with resale programs across 142 criteria to ID best practices for other brands to emulate. The Index is the first report of its kind and was created as a guide of best practices so that more brands can activate a successful resale program.

What are the main things brands and retailers could do (or stop doing) right now that would immediately improve logistics?

Many retailers have dramatically expanded assortment and returns without the instrumentation in place to understand and correct return on investment (ROI) of items. Resale, which includes returns that cannot be sold new, can be a good starting point for brands with excess inventory. While this isn’t the end goal, it’s a great place to start.

When it comes to creating efficiencies, there are quick wins and longer plays. What is something your company is doing to help its partners succeed on both fronts?

Trove isn’t interested in brands looking for quick-hit marketing programs. We work with brands who understand the strategic nature of resale and staying connected to every product made and sold and, thereby, every brand customer.

We build programs that start with small steps but are always in line with the retailer’s longer-term vision. This allows our brand partners to make money now as they are prepared for what we see as inevitable changes in the way we shop.

What is your company doing to make the movement of goods more sustainable?

Fashion is said to be the second-most-polluting industry in the world, right behind the oil industry—and while resale programs can shift from new product revenue to existing product revenue, not all resale programs are sustainable.

After years of leading sustainability at Walmart, I was inspired to start Trove to figure out how brands could grow their business without net new production. We are accelerating the shift toward more sustainable, circular business models, helping to keep goods out of landfills and reduce waste. We processed 1.5 million items in the last year, preventing a huge number of products from needing to be sourced, produced and shipped.

Additionally, in 2022, we saved 1.5 million kilograms of CO2 through branded resale and trade-in programs powered by our Recommerce Operating System, a system that powers trade-in and resale for fashion brands, delivering sustainable and profitable growth at scale.

When it comes to supply chain logistics challenges, there are things companies can fix, and things that are beyond their control. How can the former help the latter?

Nobody has a crystal ball—beyond “black swans” like Covid-19, it’s very difficult to predict changes in gas prices, interest rates, savings rates, global economic events, etc., affecting customer demand.

What brands can do is be more aware and more dynamic about where inventory is in the supply chain and how to reallocate it given the macro events.

What is the one thing brands and retailers could be doing to make better use of technology to improve logistics?

One thing brands and retailers could be doing is dedicating more technology and intelligence to reverse logistics. Returns and reverse logistics have been under-invested for years, and given shifts in e-commerce and expanded assortment, the inefficiencies are becoming material.

Resale is here, and Trove is leading the resale revolution with scalable branded solutions—like our Recommerce Operating System—that extend the life of millions of products, creating more inclusive, less wasteful business models.