Recommerce comes to workwear retailer Carhartt (contributed photo)
Carhartt, a retailer of workwear apparel, has launched the first recommerce channel in its category, aiming to drive incremental revenue and attract consumers who hadn’t purchased from the company before, taking advantage of a burgeoning market favored by younger values-based shoppers.
As part of Carhartt Reworked, the retailer will take in used items at six of its stores, then ship them off to recommerce partner Trove’s facility in Brisbane, CA. There it will be triaged and refurbished if needed, using machine learning to price items for resale based condition.
Initially, Carhartt’s flagship store in Detroit, as well as locations in Connecticut, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington and Minnesota will be part of the program, before expanding it later this year to all 35 stores.
Gretchen Valade, Carhartt’s director of sustainability, said the retailer wanted to own the customer relationship and data as well as the entire process around its aftermarket apparel, while also doing the right thing by keeping more of it out of landfills.
“We were looking to have a more sustainable strategy, and where we wanted to focus as a company and a brand,” Valade said. “We believe in circularity, especially as our workwear is focused on durability, products meant to last generations. Using Trove as a trusted partner allows us to own the secondhand channel and certify them as Carhartt goods.”
According to a new survey from eBay of buyers and sellers in six major markets, 90% of buyers said they’ve purchased pre-owned goods on the marketplace in the past year, while 93% of sellers said sustainability was either “very” or “somewhat” important to them. Buyers, eBays said, are looking for value and earth-friendliness, while sellers are turning gently-used goods into cash. Some cynical observers saw a struggling company latching onto a hot trend to boost its fortunes.
Also witness the popularity of sites like Posmark, The RealReal, ThredUp and others, as well as recommerce initiatives by a growing number of retailers, as evidence of the trend’s staying power. Even funky-but-chic Goodwill has launched its own ecommerce channel, thanks to generative AI enabling the creation of unique product content for millions of single-SKU items.
Gayle Tait, CEO of Trove, said her company’s technology allows it to manage and process millions of single-SKU items on behalf of retail clients at its warehouse in Brisbane, CA. “We manage all the cleaning and repair of items, providing a resale channel in line with what the brand wants to convey,” Tait said. “The scale is significant.”
Valade said an important feature of the program and Trove’s capabilities is giving shoppers full visibility into each item’s condition, such as a frayed cuff. “They have the full expectation upfront,” she said. “Maybe they can’t touch and feel it, but they still get the experience.”
Tait said Trove’s software uses machine learning to process information like flaws specific to a category and the amount of rework done in order to make accurate pricing decisions and group items together for merchandising, to maintain the right unit economics.
“There’s the underpinning of real-time data, removing subjective decision-making from associates to generate a consistent, objective experience,” she said. “It helps ensure a certain quality on the output side so the consumer receives the product in line with their expectations.”