Over the past five to 10 years, the home goods resale market has seen a significant spike. From Chairish—which specializes in vintage and resale furniture—to seconds specialists like Home Goods and Tuesday Morning, furnishings retailers have realized the opportunity in resale.
And with supply chain disruptions that have plagued the retail industry in the wake of the pandemic, stores have a greater need for inventory while manufacturers have often found themselves with merchandise—particularly seasonal items—that arrived too late and is no longer needed.
That problem has created an opportunity for companies like B-Stock, which essentially serves as a middle man between manufacturers with excess inventory and retailers who want those items. The company works with brands like Wayfair, Ashley Furniture, Target and Home Depot to create an online liquidation marketplace for retailers to shop overstock and return merchandise.
“They want to be better about managing inventory, so they want to get rid of slow-moving stock or inventory that takes up space in their warehouses, and they want to save the space for things that are going to sell,” said Marcus Shen, COO, B-Stock. “From an overstock perspective, people are putting stuff on our platform that’s not moving as well as they [would] like.”
B-Stock’s buyers tend to be small retailers with one or two stores or entrepreneurs reselling on platforms like eBay or Poshmark. They place bids on lots of items, everything from clothing to furniture, listed on the site by larger retailers or manufacturers.
“Those buyers come to our website and search for things—they use it like an e-commerce experience to source inventory,” Shen said. “A lot of these small retailers who are buyers used to make a phone call to look at a warehouse or go into a store to source that inventory. We’re a virtual version of that.”
Shen said this alternative to unsold merchandise ending up in a landfill not only helps these companies reduce their waste from a monetary standpoint, but also environmentally. And with growing concerns about sustainability in the home goods industry, resale through B-Stock’s platform allows these companies to show customers they share their concern for the planet.
“A big part of that is the consumer being far more conscious of what companies are doing behind the scenes in furniture or apparel,” he said. “Those tend to be industries where you see a lot more thought about sustainability. And Gen Z and Millennials are far more socially conscious than any generation before, and they want to identify and associate with companies that share those values.”
The rise in e-commerce, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, has contributed to the need for a platform like B-Stock, as well. According to a 2021 study by Shopify, a quarter of consumers return between five and 15 percent of the items they purchase online. For housewares, the rate is 11.5 percent, and it’s 12.2 percent for apparel.
“The shift to e-commerce has made it the cost of doing business,” he said. “Customer returns are growing, and what these e-commerce companies are doing is kind of magical because you’re buying stuff without actually seeing or touching it. So as a result, e-commerce is driving customer return business.”
Conversely, consumers have also become more comfortable with buying resale items. According to a 2021 research report commissioned by furnishings e-commerce retailer Chairish and conducted by Statista, 48 percent of Americans purchased an item for their homes through resale in 2020. And from 2017 to 2024, the global resale market is expected to triple to $130.6 billion.
“We as consumers are far more comfortable with buying something that’s been opened or something that got returned,” Shen said. “The idea of that doesn’t freak us out anymore, and for a lot of goods, it’s a great way for people to get better product at slightly better values.”
Last year alone, B-Stock helped sell sold over a million units of furniture, saving nearly 58 million pounds. Shen said the company is poised to do even more this year, and they want to continue that growth to help manufacturers and retailers overcome the supply chain disruptions and take control of their inventory.
“Our mission is to make it easier for entrepreneurs and folks in e-commerce to grease the wheels,” he said. “If we can continue to make it easier for those retailers to resell and grow their businesses, we’ve done something good.”