Our houses are full of perfectly functioning objects that we do not use, cannot resell or give away as gifts. When something is not used and left in the basement or the storage closet it is automatically losing its value and will probably be thrown away. Of course there are many second-hand/swap stores and online platforms, but sometimes it might be difficult to place and sell an object and assess its market value.
Reoose is trying to solve these problems. This Italian online “eco-store” is based on what the funders call “asynchronic barter” to promote sustainable consumption and avoid waste. On this website it is possible to exchange items that have no value for the owner, even if new, and give them a “second life”, all without the use of money.
But what does “asynchronic barter” actually mean? And what is the difference with other second-hand websites?
Every object displayed by a user on the marketplace is automatically evaluated and “priced” in terms of Reoose credits, regardless of the brand but based on its category, status (new or used) and the potential polluting factor it would have if thrown away. For those who believe that their objects should be worth more or less than the estimated value, Reoose introduced a way to personalize the ads, giving the possibility to increase or decrease the value by 20%.The credits accumulated may be used to buy other objects in the website or help Italian non-profit partners and charities.
If we take a look at website, we can see it is very simple and user-friendly: there is an active content-filtering recommendation agent based on consumers’ desired product attributes, and another one in which it is possible to specify the desired Italian region in which to locate the products. This last RA complies with the idea of the founders, who advice customers to focus on ads in their city “to make a true zero-impact and non-polluting exchange”. The variety of objects is impressive and there is even a category for “non functioning objects” (oggetti non funzionanti) that contains some items whose value might be… let’s say questionable!
As to date, posting ads is free and there is no subscription fee. The Reoose community has grown so far only by word of mouth to 30.000 registered users.
For the future, the main goal for the founders is to take this idea outside of the Italian borders and grow internationally by launching the English version. In compliance with their general approach to the economy, they refused venture capitalist financing, because they admit they do not want the logic of profit to be prioritized against the real usefulness of the service. That is why they are now resorting to crowdfunding and hope that it can be a valid substitute for the traditional sources of financing for Italian start-ups.
- Agrawal, A. K., Catalini, C., & Goldfarb, A. (2013). Some simple economics of crowdfunding (No. w19133). National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Xiao, B., & Benbasat, I. (2007). E-commerce product recommendation agents: use, characteristics, and impact. Mis Quarterly, 31(1), 137-209.