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Unprepared Ep 43 - How Brands Can Support Sustainability in Ecommerce With Adam Siegel

Timestamps:

  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [00:41] - Adam’s background on sustainability
  • [02:11] - How brands tackle sustainability issues
  • [04:03] - Incorporating sustainability on brands
  • [05:00] - What’s the focus of Recurate?
  • [08:41] - Where to find Adam

Resources:

Key Points:

  • Recurate allows brands to integrate a resale marketplace directly on their Shopify store. 
  • Recurate wants to drive the most sustainable impact possible. The best way to do that is to extend the life of a product.
  • Recurate got into reselling items because 1) if you need to buy a product, the most sustainable item is already produced, and 2) the used product market has been growing for the past 10 years. 
  • Third-party stores like Poshmark, eBay, etc. made it cool to buy used products since they are more affordable, unique, and sustainable.
  • Brands have not benefited from the resale market because the transaction happens on third-party platforms.
  • Recurate aims to bring the sales and the customers back to the brand's website. 
  • Recurate has created a Shopify app where brands just have to install it to create a peer-to-peer marketplace directly on your brand's web store
  • Any brand that sells items that has resale value can use this app like clothing, fashion accessories, kid products, outdoor gear, etc. 
  • Anything that has a life beyond its first use or first customer can be resold. 
  • If something can be resold on eBay, then it can also be resold directly on the brand's website.
  • Large companies have the budget to tackle sustainability issues, but they're difficult to change since there's a range of decision-makers that need to get into the conversation. 
  • Meanwhile, digitally native and DTC brands are relatively smaller teams. They act fast and when they commit, they can implement change quickly.  
  • A number of DTC brands have a strong commitment to sustainability. 
  • Many customers are also demanding sustainability and have become a table stake for next-generation brands.
  • If you're doing something good and it's profitable, people like to see that you're giving back. 
  • People are looking for brands giving back in general -- be it for using sustainable fabric or donating to causes helping the environment. 
  • Thinking about the whole product life will make brands know how to incorporate sustainability. 
  • If you think of your supply chain, from your raw materials, packaging, how it's used, and up to how it gets disposed of. 
  • Not all brands have the time and resources to do these so they sometimes focus on one of those components that can drive the biggest sustainable benefits.

Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

All right. Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. 

Today we're talking about a topic we haven't touched on, either on the podcast or on this video series very much at all, I don't think, which is sustainability. 

And I've got an awesome guest to bring on the show today, Adam from Recurate. How are you doing today, Adam? 

Adam Siegel  

Good. Very good to be here. Thank you for the invite, Chase.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, no, this is fantastic. So let's just dive right in. Let's talk about sustainability in Ecommerce. And I know you've had a lot of thoughts there, and you're bringing an awesome solution to the ecosystem. 

So I don't want to take up much time with rambling on my end, I kinda just want to hand it off to you. 

Adam Siegel  

Great. Well, thank you. I think what's probably worthwhile is for me to just give a minute or two of background from my own experience, just so I can explain why I'm the right person to be even talking about sustainability in Ecommerce. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. 

Adam Siegel  

What's relevant in my background is that for the last 10 years, I've focused on sustainable retailing and ethical production, mainly working with the largest brands. 

So companies like Walmart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, Petco, Pet Smart, Walgreens, CVS, you know, the biggest brands and retailers based in the US. But over the past couple of years, I've begun to focus more on small and mid-sized brands. So you know, the up and coming DTC retailers. 

The types of projects that I've worked on in the past, you know, everything from social issues like human rights abuses, and supply chains to conflict minerals, human trafficking, and then, of course, a number of environmental issues around the energy, water waste, material use, etc. 

So, through that, I feel like I've gotten some pretty good experience with the issues in the industry, and also the opportunities for DTC brands.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I mean, I think that the one thing I want to point out here is I don't know why it took me so long, with you getting on the show. 

And the last time we spoke was the experience that you have with these brands you work with historically, the one thing, they're all enterprise where they have a budget to tackle these issues which is important to point out because when we get into how you're helping brands these days, you can get started without such a crazy budget, you know what I mean?

Adam Siegel  

Yeah, well, absolutely. You know, the positive, but then also the downside of these large companies is that, yes, while they might have a budget, they're also very difficult to change. 

And the great thing about up and coming DTC brands or digitally native brands is that with their relatively small teams, they tend to be very fast-acting, very nimble, and agile. And so you know, when they commit, they can implement very quickly. 

You know, there's not a whole range of decision-makers or lawyers that need to get into the conversation. And what I've seen from a number of DTC brands is that they have a very strong commitment to sustainability. 

And I love that because we're seeing consumers really demanding that now. This has become table stakes for the next generation of brands to have a focus on sustainability and we're seeing that come through in spades.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Be it, you know, sourcing from sustainable fabrics if you're like a clothing brand to donating back to causes that are helping the environment or other causes close to sustainability. 

It's definitely something. I think it's maybe it's just for the giving back nature in general. It's just if you're doing something cool and it's profitable, people like to see that you're giving back.

Adam Siegel  

Absolutely. Yeah. And how I think about sustainability is really holistic. If you think about your supply chain, from the raw materials to the production of the products that you sell, transportation and packaging of the products that you sell, and ultimately, the use of that product and the end of its life. So how it gets disposed. 

You need to be thinking about all of these elements of the supply chain, the whole product life if you really want to be incorporating sustainability. 

Of course, that's a lot. And a lot of brands just don't have the time capacity, or frankly, the money to be able to focus on all of those elements. And so, you know, I see different brands choosing different components of that value chain to focus on to drive the biggest sustainable benefits for themselves.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, so let's now shifted a bit to the part of that chain that you've decided to tackle and tried to make an impact on and where you're spending your focus with what you're launching at Recurate? 

Adam Siegel  

Great. Yeah, well, you know, given my background, my goal was to drive the most sustainable impact possible. And what I found is that the best way to do that is to extend the life of a product. 

So you can sell a product to one customer and say it's a hat. They could wear it two times, or 10 times or 100 times. But if it ends up in the back of their closet or under their bed on us, well, then it's just a wasted product. 

And so we got into resale or you know, reselling items, for two main reasons. One, if you need to buy something, the most sustainable item you can buy is one that's already been produced. So used item. 

And then second is that the used product market has been growing like crazy over the past 10 years as a result of Poshmark, ThredUp, TheRealReal, Grailed Goat, eBay, of course, you know, the list goes on. They made it cool to buy used products. It's more sustainable, it's more affordable, it's more unique. You can get more unique items in that way. 

But of course, brands have not benefited one IOTA from the resale market because all of the transactions are happening on those third-party platforms. 

So our goal is to bring those sales, the customers, the transactions back to the brand's website. And so we created a Shopify app to do just that. It's super simple. All you have to do is install it and we create a peer-to-peer marketplace directly on your brand's web store.

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. And it's one of those things where it's not a crazy endeavor to add this to your store. 

And I think it definitely lends its hand to almost like, you know. I believe that a lot of the brands on Shopify are these sustainable brands, clothing brands, where their product life cycle can be beyond just the first end-user. 

Like if you're selling soda or something you can't recycle that you can recycle the canned obviously, and I hope you do. 

But, you know, if it's like t-shirts or clothing things like that, you know, is it mostly brands like that, or who else is using this app and finding success?

Adam Siegel  

Yeah, I mean, the way I see it is that any brand that sells items that have a resale value can use this. 

So you know, to your point about soda, I think the resale value of a can of soda is probably not very high and so that nobody's gonna buy it. But anything from clothing to fashion accessories, handbags, luxury items, kids/baby products, toys, electronics, outdoor gear, anything that has a life beyond its first use, or its first customer can be resold. 

And, you know, the way I tend to determine whether or not a product is good for resale is just to go on eBay and see if people are already reselling it. If they are then it could probably be resold directly on that brand’s website to their benefit. 

Chase Clymer  

And I know a lot of founders that find their products in other places and are always super confused or just think it's cool that their product has made it to a secondary marketplace.

If someone's curious to learn more about Recurate, learn more about what the offering is, or just talk to you more about sustainability, what's the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Adam Siegel  

Just go to our website www.recurate.com or you can email me at adam@recurate.com.

Chase Clymer  

Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Adam Siegel  

'Course. All right, well, thank you Chase for inviting me today.