Young woman holding smartphone with eBay logo.

eBay Latest Recommerce Report Finds Pre-Owned Goods Are Thriving


eBay released its third annual Recommerce report, taking a deep dive into what is driving the sale of pre-owned goods on the marketplace.

Recommerce has become somewhat of a buzzword over the past few years, mostly rebranding the activity of selling pre-owned products online.

Of course, eBay is really one of the pioneers of recommerce, as it launched in 1995 as an online auction platform for users to sell items they no longer need. Most of these items were pre-owned or as the company now calls them, “pre-loved.”

Over the years, eBay transformed its business strategy, at one point concentrating on attracting sellers who listed new products at fixed prices.

This really left many sellers behind and frustrated as eBay appeared to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce platforms.

But that direction has changed since Jamie Iannone took over as CEO in 2020. He believed that trying to be another Amazon or was not the best direction for the marketplace.

Instead, Iannone wanted eBay to distinguish itself by broadening the available inventory to include more unique and interesting items, many of which would be pre-loved goods or collectibles.

Sustainable Commerce

This re-focus also takes advantage of a growing interest by consumers being more environmentally conscious when making purchase decisions.

The company’s latest recommerce report highlights this point, finding that 90% of buyers said they’ve purchased pre-loved goods on eBay in the past year.

While recommerce is being embraced by all generations, it’s more prevalent among Gen Z and Millennials.

According to eBay, 39% of Millennials said they value sustainability and environmental benefits when buying pre-loved goods.

This may be a little surprising as it tops Gen Z shoppers (36%), who are often thought to be the most environmentally conscious generation.

“I try my best to do my part to combat the overflow of clothing we have in this world,” said Leilani Martinez, a U.S. college student. “I definitely find value in recommerce. I appreciate the community that is created in the ‘reselling’ world. It’s also a great way for me to save money as a college student.”

Not surprisingly, Boomers came in at a modest 20% valuing sustainability as a purchase decision for pre-owned goods.

“Recommerce creates real and lasting benefits for the environment by avoiding carbon emissions and keeping items out of landfills,” said Renee Morin, Chief Sustainability Officer at eBay. “We play a central part in the circular economy through the selling and buying of pre-loved items on our marketplace.”

Less Expensive

Of course, unless one buys collectibles or rare items, many pre-loved goods sold on eBay are also less expensive than buying new.

This includes everything from fashion and accessory items to refurbished electronics, with smartphones being one of the most popular categories.

The macroeconomics globally resulting in higher than typical inflation across most modern economies has forced more shoppers to consider pre-owned items.

Some people may have visited physical locations such as thrift shops, flea markets, or garage sales, but many have been turning to eBay as a source for pre-owned goods.

This has provided sellers with an opportunity to cater to a community of buyers, looking for the convenience of ecommerce, while also wanting to save money.

Despite economic pressures, eBay’s report found that nearly 8 out of 10 sellers surveyed have either increased their sales or stayed the same during the past six months.

While some sellers may dismiss this metric as false, the reality may be that many of the successful sellers shifted their inventory to cater to today’s buyers.

Ecommerce continuously evolves, and so do buyers on eBay and other marketplaces. For example, eBay’s recommerce report found that 65% of buyers said refurbished programs allow them to buy top brands for less money.

If you traditionally scoured thrift stores and bargain racks to build inventory, you may have overlooked the opportunity to offer name-brand or luxury items for less.

eBay has upped its game to bring more certified refurbished goods to the platform, but sellers can still offer pre-loved items in many of the same categories, attracting buyers looking for even a better bargain.

In addition, eBay’s strategy of expanding its Authenticity Guarantee program also has been driving the interest in pre-loved goods, and not just for collecting, but also for wearing.

Over half of eBay users surveyed heard of eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee service (53%) and 72% said that they had sold at least one eBay authenticated product.

About eBay’s Recommerce Report

The third annual eBay Recommerce Report surveyed 11,064 eBay consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sellers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Japan.

In the U.S. and Canada, the survey focused on small sellers with less than $10,000 in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and fewer than 25 transactions in a year. In other countries, the company relied mostly on self-identification as a C2C or personal seller.

But what makes this report more interesting than the previous two is that eBay, for the first time, included 7,459 buyers in its survey. This offers a much broader look at the state of recommerce on the platform.

In conclusion, the third annual eBay Recommerce report provides insight into today’s consumer and shopping behavior.

eBay is not the only marketplace that has been jumping back on the pre-owned and refurbished goods train.

But as one of the oldest online marketplaces and one that had its origin in used products, it’s the most popular online marketplace for pre-owned goods.

65% of those surveyed in this recommerce report said that selling pre-loved items has become easier over the past few years.

That offers an opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs to start an online business or side hustle on eBay.

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