One of the five forces Michael Porter had described that affect the industry competition is threat of substitute products and services. For conventional mom and pop stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets started posing threats. Then these supermarkets were challenged by the ecommerce giants. It seems that the new generation of startups are now challenging the ecommerce model.
First and foremost, of these is ‘seconds’ market. Second hand products were always threats to any retail market. Though for short period of time retail went ahead substantially over this market with help of technology. There was no convenient and hassle free way to buy second hand products as easily as buying new products online. Soon though with OLX and Quikr the balance started to restore. But again these classifieds lack the convenience and ease of one click buy option.
This is however changing fast. Now there are many niche start-ups featuring cleaned and refurbished products that you can buy for a lot less than even heavily discounted products. The variety and quality of products on these sites is getting better and better and options like COD and home delivery are making the buying experience comparable to buying new products online.
Most of all, curation and guarantees about quality from these start-ups are overcoming the inhibitions about risks of buying used products. Mumbai based PreCared for toys and dresses or Bangalore based Elanic for dresses, bags and lifestyle products are just couple of examples in this ever growing list.
But it gets tougher. The so-called ‘re-commerce’ wave doesn’t end here. After second hand products markets there now is rental market. Again this market was always there in some form or the other. E.g. renting sound systems for events. But again there wasn’t transparency, variety and comfort of online booking and delivery.
This is changing fast as well. And once again there are a variety of flavours. There are inventory-based models – the likes of Furlenco, FlyRobe and Tappr, which will provide you, cleaned and remodelled products for rent at your doorstep. And there also is on-demand, marketplace model with the likes of RentoMojo, RentSher and others which have even bigger variety and inventory, even cheaper prices, curated products and doorstep delivery and pickup.
As it happens generally in competition, customer gets great deals and variety. And there is no exception here. As a simple example, if you want to do a decent photo session of your family with your newborn baby, you can buy a DSLR, few new clothes and some props for upwards or Rs 40,000 from showrooms in city malls. With right timing, you can get same things for about Rs 30,000 at online stores. If you are up for it, these things can come for Rs 10,000-15,000 on second-hand products sites. But the best of all, you can simply book it all just for a day for less than Rs 1000 at one of the online rental sites, get it delivered, complete the photoshoot and get it picked up. A whopping Rs 39,000 saving with exactly same result and probably even less hassle.
So it seems that the honorific of commerce and getting longer for better. Plain old commerce was followed by e-commerce and it is now time for re-commerce. The ever increasing greed of human boosted by consumerism is thankfully getting controlled by re-use of already manufactured resources, not only making it a great deal for consumers but also a breather for planet earth.