Trove CEO: Consumers Look to Brands for Streamlined Resale Experiences

resale clothing

Tired of proverbially picking their way through online resale marketplaces, consumers are looking for more streamlined secondhand shopping experiences that more closely resemble the ease and simplicity of buying new.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Gayle Tait, CEO of Trove, a white-label resale platform for brands, said consumers are looking for branded secondhand shops to take the chaos out of digital thrifting.

“There is a real desire for customers to shop resale on brand sites. I think it’s a mistake to think that resale is really a marketplace shopping experience,” Tait said. “If you think about how customers navigate their shopping experiences, brands are real beacons — they’re the entry point of that experience. Resale is the same and we expect that this is going to continue to be a big piece of brands’ business moving forward.”

The same theory applies for multi-brand, specialized retailers, she said, citing the example of a consumer preparing for a hiking trip who begins their shopping at REI or of a runner looking for new sneakers who shops from a running-specific website.

Amid ongoing economic challenges, many shoppers are turning to resale platforms to get the products they want at more affordable prices. PYMNTS Intelligence’s “Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report: Consumers Shop Secondhand Stores as Often as Other Retail,” which drew from a survey of more than 2,300 U.S. consumers in December, found that 43% of consumers bought a secondhand product in 2023.

“There’s definitely pressures on customers wallets, which are impacting the overall industry,” Tait said, adding that consumers’ inflationary pressures can be “a positive” for resale, as consumers look for ways to get “high-quality items at more accessible price points.”

Certainly, cost is front of mind for many shoppers. The PYMNTS Intelligence study “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report: Why One-Third of High Earners Live Paycheck to Paycheck,” which drew from a survey of more than 4,200 U.S. consumers, found that half have switched to cheaper retail merchants. Plus, 45% of low-income shoppers (those who make less than $50,000 annually) and 41% of middle-income ($50,000 to $100,000) shoppers said they had traded down on product quality in the previous year.

Tait predicted that branded resale will gain ground going forward, given Gen Z’s disproportionate adoption of secondhand retail. Anecdotally, she cited the example of a friend’s child’s college visits, where prospective students were asking tour guides not about name brand stores but about what the thrifting options were in the area.

“If brands want to be able to appeal to the next generation of customers they’re really going to need to invest here,” she said.

Indeed, supplemental research from the Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report found that secondhand purchasing surges for Gen Z, with 74% of consumers in this generation having made purchases from resale channels last year, up dramatically from the next closest generation — millennials, at 56%.

Looking ahead, Tait predicts additional retail categories will gain ground in resale. The Consumer Inflation Sentiment study noted that currently, clothing and accessories are the most common resale purchases, with more than half of secondhand customers having made purchases in this category.

“[One] thing that’s going to be really interesting is some of the new verticals that are going to come online,” Tait said. “Obviously apparel and footwear have been really growing but I think there are other verticals that are really chomping at the bit here.”

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