Imagine you bought a pair of sneakers. After wearing them a few times you realize they don’t fit properly. Even though they are as good as new, you are not able to return them. You could try to resell them online on Facebook or Marktplaats, but you have some uncertainties about safety and security. This is where United Wardrobe comes in: a hip, social and safe fashion platform.
United Wardrobe is an online platform for buying and selling second hand fashion. The key aspects of the platform are safety, sustainability and service. But United Wardrobe is more than just a marketplace platform, it is a community where you can chat with other fashion lovers, follow users and favorite each other’s products. These social functions empower users to become co-creators of value.
How does it work?
A user can create a profile and upload products for sale. The moment a buyer has paid for a product, the seller receives their contact details. As soon as the package has been received, United Wardrobe transfers the money within 14 days to the seller (United Wardrobe, 2017). This relates to what Carson et al. (1999) define as institutional arrangements, the formal and informal rules of exchange created by specific parties to a specific exchange, in this case the exchange of fashion.
The institutional arrangements of United Wardrobe meet three criteria set by Carson et al. (1999). Firstly, they are efficient in a sense that they enable joint profitability and create incentives for users to contribute. Next to this, they are feasible given the characteristics of the exchange of products. Finally, they are achievable in a sense that United Wardrobe has succeeded in growing the platform and community. These institutional arrangements allow United Wardrobe to tackle safety and security issues such as scamming, which no other marketplace platform has succeeded to do.
Users are an important part of United Wardrobe’s business model and enable more creation of value than the company could create on its own. In fact, without its users, the company would not even exist. This is the essence of value co-creation, where new ways are identified to support either the customer’s or the firm’s value-creating process (Saarijärvi et al., 2013). An interesting feature on the website is a page where you can see what the most popular search terms are. This reflects a customer value co-creation mechanism where the firm has refined user data and returned it to the users (Saarijärvi et al., 2013). United Wardrobe has won several prizes with its concept including Dutch Online Retail Experience Award 2015 and the public award of Accenture’s Innovation Awards in 2014.
From my own experience with the platform I can assure you that it is a fun and easy way to sell some clothes. Everyone has clothing at the back of their closet they never wear. A pair of trousers that you might hate another might love, so get up and make that extra money. From an environmental perspective I think this business model is a great step towards a better planet by recycling fashion.
Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.
Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review, 25(1), 6-19.
United Wardrobe (2017) unitedwardrobe.com. Available at: https://unitedwardrobe.com/en/about Accessed on 15/02/2017