Finance Consumer Coming soon: IKEA launches online ‘As is’ marketplace for second-hand items
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Coming soon: IKEA launches online ‘As is’ marketplace for second-hand items

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Have you been known to trawl Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for pre-loved items you spotted at IKEA?

From early next year, the Swedish superstore will launch its online destination for savvy shoppers looking to buy its products second hand.

And the brand promises shoppers will never pay more than 50 per cent of the original price for the item, even if it’s still in mint condition.

The online initiative is an extension of the ‘As-Is’ section already inside IKEA stores.

Customers can buy discounted items from pre-loved, ex-display, returned and discontinued stock, as well as products with minor cosmetic damage.

The online portal will allow customers to browse and ‘reserve’ those items online.

Unlike other online shopping, customers will be directed to pick up the items from ‘circular hubs’ being rolled out at stores across the country.

The second-hand items will be sourced from IKEA’s buy back service, where customers can return eligible items for store credit.

And if you’ve got a screw loose, the hubs will also offer free spare parts in store and online.

The offering was part of IKEA’s presentation at COP26. The homewares giant announced it aims to become an entirely circular business by 2030.

The goal is to use only renewable and recycled materials, with a lower climate footprint, as well as designing products with resale in mind, it said.

IKEA Australia’s sustainability manager Mellisa Hamilton told The Australian that customers are excited to buy second hand as well as new.

“We’ve [learned] from our customer insights [that customers think] to make an individual action to support the people and the planet, it tends to be more expensive and at a premium,” Ms Hamilton said.

“But I think in terms of this action or this initiative is actually more looking at why pay full price for something new when I could get something just as functional just as beautiful?”

The online store is already offered in some places overseas, but will be a first for Australia.

‘A win-win situation’, says expert

Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer told The New Daily while there is no clear financial benefit for IKEA, it is a good corporate social responsibility strategy.

“Businesses today are actively looking at ways they can reduce their environmental footprint. To do business more sustainably, to reduce waste and to reduce energy consumption,” Professor Mortimer said.

He explained when a business can align its values with those of the community it services, people are more inclined to shop there.

IKEA may have realised its furniture was being treated as disposable and ultimately ending up in landfill, he said.

An initiative like this, which supports the circular economy, connects well with consumers who are focused on reducing waste.

The circular economy is nothing new. It is a bit of a fancy word for recycling and reusing items (including reselling or renting them). The move by IKEA is part of a wider trend.

As predicted by Associate Professor Jana Bowden for The New Daily in December, the pandemic has changed our buying mentality.

“COVID has really hit the reset button on societal values, and consumers now want to shop with retailers that reflect their societal, cultural, economic and political values,” Dr Bowden wrote.

According to research from IKEA, 21 per cent of Australians buy second hand most or all of the time.

And it’s not just furniture.

In September, online fashion retailer The Iconic partnered with AirRobe, a website that facilitates item resales and rentals.

Customers can add items to their virtual shopping cart on The Iconic – and at the same time add the same items to their AirRobe account to resell or rent in the future.

But perhaps the most under-rated part of this announcement from IKEA is that when you buy pre-owned – the items are also pre-assembled.

“This is a very positive way that you can actually buy products that are already assembled, which is a bit of a value to start with. But also you save money, and it’s good for the environment,” Professor Mortimer said.

“It’s a win-win situation.”