InsideOutdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2018 30 M any retailers today are stuck be- tween a rock and a hard place deal- ing with certain product returns. Oftentimes, customers will buy an expensive product such as a tent or snowboard, use it once on a trip and then attempt to return the item as unused. This puts the retailer in the awkward position of either having to take back the used mer- chandise or refusing and risking angering the customer. It’s a touchy issue, especially in today’s social-centric economy where consumers can be quick to publicize negative experiences. In some cases, absorbing a financial loss can be preferable to refusing a customer and gaining a reputation as an unfriendly organization. At the same time, return fraud is expensive. Last year, return fraud amounted to about $15 billion in retailer losses. One way to work around this challenge is to embrace the circular economy by refurbishing used prod- ucts or making equipment available to rent. In addition to helping absorb losses from returns, selling refur- bished items also can boost your reputation as a sustainable busi- ness — and one that is part of the sharing economy. If you are skeptical about sell- ing used items, this may cause you to reconsider: according to one study, resale is actually grow- ing 24 times faster than retail. The resale market is expected to reach $41 billion by 2022, with ap- parel accounting for about half the market. Thrifters, for that matter, are expected to buy twice as many used clothes in the next five years. Several companies, such as The North Face and Patagonia, have already embraced this strategy and are now offering their own re- furbished clothing lines. Renting outdoor equipment can be more challenging than sell- ing used clothing, as it requires a fair amount of marketing and backend communication. This is where Colorado-based startup Gearo can come in handy. Gearo is an online marketplace where ven- dors can list their prod- ucts to local consumers. Gearo facilitates secure payments, making the process easy for both business owners and customers. The com- pany offers different cat- egories including biking, fishing, hiking, climbing, paddling, skiing and even yoga. The company cur- rently has affiliate retailers in Colorado, New York, Florida, Tennessee, Or- egon and Rhode Island, and plans to add more locations. According to Gearo co-founder Justine Barone, the company will soon start running targeted digital marketing campaigns for its ven- dors, which is an added bonus. “We will be providing press cov- erage to highlight our small mom and pop vendors,” Barone said. “The whole idea is to support local businesses and help them compete with bigger brands.” Gearo can also help small busi- nesses migrate beyond traditional rental systems, which are often managed with pen and paper. “Oftentimes, these shops will have a single phone number that goes directly to the owner,” Barone said. “The nice thing about Gearo is that it frees shop owners from having to constantly answer the Start ‘emUp by Gerald Baldino GearoHelps Retailers Get Circular Gearo co-founders Justine and Andrew Barone