How eBay UK is driving sustainable shopping: ‘we’re nudging, not judging’

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How eBay UK is driving sustainable shopping: ‘we’re nudging, not judging’

// eBay UK global fashion general manager Kirsty Keoghan on how the marketplace is pushing circular fashion
// She insists the business is “nudging not judging” consumers to make sustainable purchasing decisions

eBay has been at the forefront of sustainable shopping since its inception.

In fact, the marketplace’s UK’s global fashion general manager Kirsty Keoghan reveals that the first item sold on the website back in 1995 was a broken laser pointer, proving that “even back then one person’s junk was another person’s treasure”.

However, eBay has been a driving force in the recent trend towards secondhand clothing.

Keoghan tells ShopTalk Europe in Barcelona that there has been a “big change in people’s perceptions of shopping pre-loved, particularly in fashion” and a real shift in previously held stigmas.

eBay research has revealed that 90% of its shoppers have bought pre-loved in some way, however, Keoghan says the firm is “trying to create a behavioural shift”, instead of trying to make everyone shop pre-loved because “we have to be realistic”.

“We’re nudging not judging,” she says.

Although the drive to be more sustainable is influencing some shoppers to snap up gently used goods, Keoghan says there is another important factor behind this trend: value.

She says that “refurbished items are better value”, with the landfill save providing a secondary benefit for some shoppers.

“Whether your motivator is value or not, there is a ripple effect,” she explains.

“Our data shows that 95% of millennials buy pre-loved, it’s not just a young person’s game, people are much more aware of the effect their purchasing decisions.”

Helping retailers to become more sustainable

One element Keoghan is particularly proud of is how eBay has helped “to remove the barriers for smaller brands without the reach or resources” to embrace circular fashion.

She says eBay is “perfectly set up to help small businesses” sell their stock that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

However, it also helps big brands do the same. eBay’s brand outlet programme gives retailers a channel to sell on their end-of-season inventory, something that Keoghan says firms have struggled with.

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eBay has also launched its Imperfects collection – the fashion equivalent to supermarkets’ wonky veg initiative – which offers clothes, shoes and accessories which is considered new but with defects, from over 100 high-street and high-end designers.

Brands such as North Face, Off White, Puma, Fila, and Timberland sell imperfect at up to 60% off with eBay through the initiative that launched last April.

eBay clearly highlights the flaws to customers before the items are sold through a newly launched outlet.

“Before that, they didn’t have anywhere for those items to go,” says Keoghan.

A host of retailers have entered the resale space in recent years, from PrettyLittleThing to Levi’s, which Keoghan welcomes.

“The more competition the better because it pushes us to do the best possible job for our consumers and for the planet.”

She says this trend is driving much change across the industry. “We haven’t seen anything as big as recommence, driving the circular economy for fashion brands”.

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