It’s not just secondhand clothes Gen Z and other consumers want. They’re also drawn to everyday, refurbished products

During the past holiday season, refurbished products had their highest sales yet on eBay.
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Steven Arnold, Ebay, CC BY 3.0

· 3 min read

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When discussing buying or selling products secondhand, clothing typically gets all the attention. But fast fashion isn’t the only space where products’ life cycles can be extended.

EBay is one of the original marketplaces for consumers to sell almost anything they wanted to get a quick buck out of, and now the company’s refurbished program has opened the door for retailers to do the same. Buying refurbished products—mostly electronics and home goods—is another way buyers are looking to make their dollar stretch and sellers to get the most on the margins without being wasteful.

“In the past, retailers were not the most savvy about putting these items back into circulation. It wasn’t the most cost-effective process for them,” Mari Corella, general manager of home and hard goods at eBay, told Retail Brew. “It was easier for them to either liquidate the product as is or sometimes even go as far as to destroy it—that’s becoming a less-common practice now.”

Run it back: EBay Refurbished, Corella said, gives buyers confidence to shop knowing they can purchase fully functioning refurbished products in four conditions: certified, excellent, very good, and good. Depending on the condition, all refurbished products come with either a one- or two-year warranty.

  • Brands who qualify for the program, like Dyson, can offer products in these four conditions that are refurbished directly by a manufacturer or manufacturer-approved refurbisher.
  • EBay ended Q4 2022 with positive YoY GMV growth, with the biggest sales week ever for eBay Refurbished goods coming during Cyber Week.
  • Broadly, more consumers than ever are exploring resale. The US refurbished and used mobile-phone market size is expected to hit $23.61 billion by 2030, up from $10.44 billion last year, according to a report from Custom Market Insights.

Corella said more products beyond cell phones and laptops can be refurbished. She said small kitchen appliances are also popular refurbished sellers, and the company will also be extending into musical instruments.

  • “[Retail brands] are businesses; they need to keep their profits as high as possible,” she said. “Because of that, it may not make sense to donate or liquidate their products. By refurbishing them, they’re able to maintain value and have control over the brand experience.”

The big picture: Like secondhand clothes, younger shoppers are driving the demand for refurbished products, Corella said. Roughly 36% of Gen Z and 39% of millennials said they continue to value sustainability when buying pre-owned goods, as opposed to just 26% of boomers, according to eBay’s 2022 Recommerce report.

“Gen Z, they’re demanding this,” Corella said. “It used to be taboo to say that you were wearing secondhand clothes or using a used phone. Now, it’s actually the other way around, [where] you’re proud of it.”

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