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4 Ways to Support Sustainability with a Smart Re-Commerce Program

Part 1 of Trove's Lindsey Di Ruscio on The Creative Operations Podcast. 

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Head of Community at Creative Force
Head of Community at Creative Force

Minimizing harmful effects on the planet has long been a concern of the fashion and apparel industry and more recently for e-commerce as well. With roughly 10 percent of global emissions coming from the fashion industry, this apprehension is warranted and solutions are needed. Apparel companies and their content studios have to strategize to shrink their footprint.

That's why we brought Lindsey Di Ruscio, Photo Studio Manager of Trove, to The Creative Operations Podcast. Trove works with leading brands, like Patagonia, Lululemon, Levi's, and REI, to create a resale program for worn gear. They make it a no-brainer for the brand, handling all technology, logistics, content, and even the websites for the resell channels while aligning to the brand standards of the supported companies.

How big of an impact is Trove having? When you tally the work accomplished across all accounts, Trove has spared 1 million kilograms of carbon emissions. (Thanks, Trove!)

Listen to the full episode with Lindsey on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or our website. But for just a few tips to reduce the footprint of your studio, read on.

Separate Your Re-Commerce and eCommerce Strategies

Since Lindsey started at Trove in August of 2020, she's seen an "evolution of content," she says. While re-commerce photography used to attempt to mimic the practices and standards of traditional eCommerce imagery, it now has its own set of best practices. "We've evolved as a business and with our partners saying, 'Is this the right thing we should be doing?'" Lindsey says.

When you start a re-commerce program, think beyond your previous standards and make new solutions for new needs. For instance, Lindsey's studio at Trove chose to update lighting to highlight more granular details and change the way clothes are styled. Instead of going with the cross-armed position for Patagonia jackets, the studio went to straight and down angles, to better depict how the arms lay.

Add Condition Grading to Your Sample Management Process

Lindsey's team works directly within a distribution center, and when supply arrives, they need to condition-grade it, giving re-commerce shoppers a guiding status. "The items come in, and we identify them based on the catalogs provided by the brands," Lindsey explains. "The condition grading is excellent condition, good condition, down to if it's even sellable." Each brand has its own condition grades for what it deems sellable.

Once an item is accepted and Lindsey's team is set to shoot it, part of the task is to depict why an item has the grade it does. "It's allowing the customer to know what level of wear has been on this item," Lindsey says. Copywriting helps here, too, as the Trove team will explain loose threads, pilled fleece, or whatever attribute helped an item receive its designated condition.

Recalibrate Expectations about Post-Production

To implement an effective re-commerce program, you'll want to forget a lot of what you know about post-production, Lindsey says. The point of post-production in a re-commerce program is to emphasize (though not exaggerate) the flaws in a product.

"What we're doing is showing exactly what the customer is getting, which is really different from traditional eCommerce, where you're shooting a sample and then styling it to make it look perfect," Lindsey says. "It might have flaws and retouching, taking out any of those flaws or imperfections, where we want to show you, this is what you're getting."

If you'll work with external retouching partners for your re-commerce photography, make sure your partner similarly unlearns the standards and workflows of a typical eCommerce post-production process. You don't want images returned to you with edits that, while conventional, move you away from the true-life intention of re-commerce shots.

Leverage Analytics to Ensure an Effective Re-Commerce Program

If you're starting a re-commerce program, it's almost surely with an eco-conscious ethos, so you'll want to be able to prove the environmental effectiveness of your program to your internal team as well as external stakeholders. To this point, a good re-commerce program requires analytics.

At Trove, Lindsey and the team use data to constantly track the efficiency of their re-commerce service. They're calculating carbon savings down to finer details such as the reduced need for garbage trucks to drive discarded garments to a landfill.

Putting a few good data scientists behind your cause will help you with the storytelling needed to generate excitement for your program.

Your re-commerce service will also need analytics to help you manage the more volatile workflow that comes from getting lump shipments of used goods, as Trove often does. For a team at Trove that's made up of both full-time staffers and contractors, it takes smarts and numbers to anticipate when there will be a spike in workload that requires extra talent.

"It's just a lot of constant communication and looking at the data and making sure that shipment arrived," Lindsey says. "We also get a couple of days' notice, because they go into production to check the condition grade and get cleaned, so that also gives me a little bit of a buffer."

So as you get your re-commerce program going, leverage the data at your disposal, both to guide your studio and to tell its story.

These pointers can help you launch your re-commerce program, but if you want all the fun of Lindsey and Daniel's full chat, including multiple foam-related tangents and an interest in acid wash jeans, listen to the full episode on our website, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Amazon Music.