Secondhand economy a win-win scenario(2)

2024-03-08 10:25:04China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chen Hao, a tech enthusiast in Beijing, made his first purchase on an online secondhand platform — a moment that would mark the beginning of a decade-long journey. Since then, he has accumulated a collection of pre-owned treasures, including computer mice, routers, graphics cards and camera lenses.

"The line between brand new and pre-owned items is blurred, with the latter often offering superior value for money," said the 29-year-old, adding that opting for gently used items or those still under warranty allows him to enjoy the same quality while paying only half price or so.

The allure of the secondhand economy for the younger generation extends beyond affordability. While cost savings are undoubtedly a key draw, they are also drawn to the uniqueness and individuality that secondhand goods offer, said Mo Daiqing, an analyst with China E-Commerce Research Center.

Vintage fashions, collectibles and niche products are just a few examples of the treasures that can be found in the online used goods market. Rather than adhering to mainstream trends, young consumers have the freedom to curate their own distinctive styles, expressing their personalities through one-of-a-kind items, Mo added.

While the secondhand economy offers economic benefits through cost savings and job creation, it holds significant implications in its ability to drastically lower carbon emissions and foster sustainable growth.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic regulator, released the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for Circular Economy Development in 2021, with secondhand trading activities being part and parcel of the process.

As part of this vision, the plan encourages the development of the Internet Plus secondhand economy model, emphasizing standardized and regulated services for used goods transactions through strengthened management and supervision of online platforms.

As the pre-owned goods economy continues to gain momentum in China, it faces several challenges that hinder its growth and full potential, with the quality and authenticity of the products, standardized practices and regulations, and perceptions and stigmas high on the list, analysts said.

A report released in 2022 by the China E-Commerce Research Center revealed the most common complaints raised by users of China's secondhand e-commerce platforms. Topping the list is the issue of refunds, accounting for 22 percent of all user complaints. Following closely behind are concerns related to product quality at 14.6 percent, with online fraud ranking third at 11 percent.

Platforms should establish robust refund policies and procedures to streamline the process for dissatisfied buyers. Implementing clear guidelines and efficient customer support systems can help resolve refund issues promptly and restore user confidence, said Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at the Star Atlas Institute of Finance.

Pre-owned goods platforms should implement verification processes and quality checks, and ensure that products meet the advertised standards, reducing instances of customer dissatisfaction, Fu said, adding that efforts should be made to help dispel misconceptions and stigmas associated with used goods to encourage wider adoption.

In addition, it is essential to establish robust legal frameworks that govern the operations of these platforms, ensuring compliance and maintaining fair trade practices. This will help protect the interests of both buyers and sellers, fostering a transparent and trustworthy environment, Fu said.

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