In 2017, a white paper published by Reverse Resources—a software platform that traces textiles leftover from fabric and garment production—found that at least 25 percent of the fashion manufacturing industry’s raw materials is wasted every year. On top of that, the report’s authors noted that some factories in China and Bangladesh waste nearly half of the materials that they bring in. And that’s just a report on pre-consumer fashion waste.
Overall, the apparel industry, especially fast fashion, has the highest rate of returns (30 percent) and its products are the most likely to end up in a landfill. This is partly due to the fact that, by the time items are returned, they’re too dated to go back on primary shelves and so retailers choose to shred or incinerate any clothing that they can’t sell as A-stock.
An online marketplace solution, like the one B-Stock offers, can help eliminate fashion supply chain waste by providing retailers and brands a direct channel to sell their returned or excess stock to secondary market small business buyers. We’ll dive into those details in a moment. But first, let’s look at the fashion and retail industry as a whole.
Why Is The Retail And Fast Fashion Industry So Wasteful?
Of course, there’s the aforementioned issue with retailers not being able to sell their customer returns, but the problem really begins at the early stages of the supply chain. Let’s look at design and production for starters. Supply chain analysts and eco-minded brands often say that the first step in preventing waste is to train designers to be more sustainable in their approach.
But consider this: Fabric mills require a minimum order of 10 to 50 yards. Creating a sample—and even a few replicates—takes no more than 10 yards in most cases, according to Reverse Resources. What happens if that style doesn’t go through to production? Its fabric likely ends up in a landfill.
Boston Consulting Group’s Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report states that today’s consumers are also buying more clothing and wearing it less often. That’s increasing demand at a rapid rate. In response, clothing manufacturers are dealing with reduced lead times and being pressured to produce trendy clothing at a much faster pace. They’re creating extra designs per season that require more samples. All of this contributes to waste generation.
How Can An Online Marketplace Solution Help Reduce Apparel Industry Waste?
B-Stock provides a secondary market solution in the form of a private, online marketplace. Via its own branded (or unbranded) private marketplace, an apparel business can sell returned or excess clothing, accessories and shoes to vetted small business buyers. Our B2B sales platform gives retailers complete control over who sees and buys their extra inventory, and how their stock enters the secondary market. The result is higher pricing, a faster sales cycle and channel (brand) control.
Consider this: Clothing accounts for 49 percent of the total resale market, and the secondary market for apparel is estimated to reach $51 billion by 2023. Given the apparel industry has one of the highest return rates in retail, there is a big opportunity when it comes to selling returned and excess clothing on the secondary market. Whether the retailer’s goal is to offset loss, move inventory, or ensure a sustainable channel for returned goods, an online marketplace solution is one way to solve for all of this.
Today’s top apparel retailers and brands are selling more than 20 million units of apparel across their B-Stock marketplaces every year. If you’re looking for a sustainable B2B marketplace solution for your returned and excess merchandise, and are interested in learning more about B-Stock’s offering, please request a demo.