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Retailers augment tech spend to meet sustainability wave

Kimberly Chin
Apr 26, 2023
Illustration of leaves, abstract shapes and money elements.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Companies are increasingly aligning their operations with sustainability goals, and putting their money where their mouth is.

Why it matters: A global survey of 1,800 consumer goods executives found companies expect their tech spending to increase by 34% over the next three years to help them achieve those goals.

  • This translates to more initiatives around sustainable packaging, energy efficiency in manufacturing, ethical sourcing of materials and better monitoring, measuring and reporting of sustainability targets.

By the numbers: Around 77% of executives say that sustainability investments will accelerate business growth.

  • In 2022, 88 brands launched dedicated resale programs — a 244% increase from the prior year, according to a recent resale report by ThredUp.
  • To that end, 86% of retail executives say their customers are already participating in resale, up eight points from 2021.
  • Over half the retailers offering resale programs say the business line gets attention at the director and board level, up 14 points from 2021.

Zoom in: Companies like ThredUp, Trove, and Archive have received VC dollars to help retailers launch their own resale programs.

  • ThredUp and other resale marketplaces are a big part of serving new growth in the market, president Anthony Marino tells Axios, adding companies without resale are missing out on profit, innovation and demonstrable leadership on sustainability.
  • “Brands and retailers who get into the game have a unique advantage to capture customers who are already opening their wallets in their stores,” he says.

Zoom out: One in three apparel items that were purchased in the last 12 months was secondhand, and that was higher among Gen Z.

Be smart: Over half the retailers surveyed with a resale business line cited potential for resale to "cannibalize new product sales in the short-term," but are confident of its long-term yields.

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