Operations

Allbirds launches resale program

The brand hopes its shoes will live longer, and aims to help the Earth.

Legs with Allbirds shoes on the feet

ReRun is offering Allbirds trade-ins.

(Photo courtesy of Allbirds)

Allbirds is creating a program to help its shoes land in a new nest.

Aiming to double the lifetime of its products, the sustainability-minded shoe brand launched a resale program. This will allow consumers to trade in gently used shoes, which will then be resold on the platform.

“By launching our trade-in program, ReRun, we will enable our customers to play an integral role in extending the life of our shoes,” said Hana Kajimura, Head of Sustainability at Allbirds, in a statement.

To start, the company will allow consumers at stores in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City to trade in gently used shoes for $20 in store credit. In turn, it will sell the imperfect and gently used shoes starting at $59.

It’s an example of recommerce, which describes a practice in which companies aim to champion reuse of goods. Even as the explosion of online retail has created more convenience and options for consumers while providing a platform for a new generation of creative brands, the waste generated by the fashion industry in particular, and ecommerce as a whole, remains a looming challenge.

Yet there is a movement afoot to use the tools that empower online commerce to address this issue. It has led to what Business of Business spotlighted as a new generation of companies seeking to power a circular economy, in which processes are put in place to reduce waste and generate reuse. There are signs that consumers are willing to use what companies roll out, as well. In a recent study by IBM cited by Business of Business, 62% of the 19,000 respondents said they are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact.

It’s creating a market that is booming in its own right. A 2021 forecast by online thrift store ThredUp projects that the resale market is expected to grow at 11 times the rate of the broader retail clothing industry by 2025, and is on a course to reach a valuation of $77 billion by that time.

To create ReRun, AllBirds partnered with Trove, a technology company that powers resale marketplaces that also works with lululemon, Patagonia, REI, Nordstrom, Levi’s.

With its program, AllBirds said it is extending a focus on the environment. It’s one of a number of initiatives focused in this area, including making its shoes from sustainable materials. AllBirds also aims to cut the carbon footprint of its products to near zero by 2030, and says it is a 100% carbon-neutral business.

The resale program demonstrates how it can create a new business initiative and prioritize the environment at the same time.

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