How Vinted’s new affordable business model unleashed growth

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Starting life in Lithuania in 2008, marketplace Vinted now has 16 million users in the UK and is available in 20 European markets. However, Marianne Gybels, Vinted’s senior director of sustainability believes “we are only at the beginning of our journey”.

Vinted’s mission is simple: to make second hand first choice worldwide. Gybels wants to encourage “people to sell items that are not being used and hanging in their closets instead of throwing them away, while making some money along the way”.

She noted that for users of the platform, “the biggest motivation is affordability. They want to buy affordable fashion items: eight out of 10 [users] say Vinted helps them to buy items that are usually too expensive”, which has led the platform to design its “business model around affordability” – for example, by removing all seller fees and setting up its own shipping service, which allows them to keep costs to consumers low.

Gybels explained: “In 2016, we significantly changed our business model by introducing buyers’ protection fees and removing all seller fees. From that point onwards, all growth started to happen.”

She insisted: “We don’t want to play into the guilt factor” when it comes to the sustainable aspect of shopping second hand, saying: “We don’t get too hung up on the actual motivations [of our users] – they are still doing a good thing even if they have a financial motivation.”

And doing a good thing is proven by extensive data. Vinted partnered with software company Vaayu to build the largest-ever primary dataset on second-hand online shopping, examining more than half a billion transactions and receiving 350,000 responses through user surveys. The results found that, unsurprisingly, choosing second-hand instead of new is a better choice for the climate. Every item sold on Vinted avoids on average 1.8kg of CO2e [CO2e means the number of metric tonnes of carbon emissions with the same global warming potential as 1 metric tonne of another greenhouse gas], and delivery to a pick-up point instead of home [as Vinted’s own shipping service operates] reduced emissions by more than half.

Gybels believes that for Vinted to achieve its global mission, shopping second hand must offer “buying with the same ease of new – we need to provide a viable alternative to the unsustainable equivalents”. She explained that this a heavy focus for the platform, and that Vinted users can list an item in “two clicks”.

Gybels concluded: “Ultimately what is needed to create systemic change is to ensure people shop second hand over and over again.” She noted early in her presentation that “emissions are only being avoided if second hand is being bought in the replacement of new [garments]”, so if consumers continue to buy new on top of their second hand purchases, the needle will not be moved.

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