In the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the luxury retail sector faces extraordinary financial uncertainty as the selling environment is compromised by cancelled merchandise orders, closed stores and shelter-in-place mandates across major U.S. cities. Brand and retail partners of ShopWorn, however, have found support in their relationship with the ecommerce platform, whose business model of buying unsold, shop worn luxury goods and selling to consumers online is giving assistance to companies contemplating what comes next.
Launched in 2015 as a retail industry necessity, brothers Larry and Richard Birnbaum recognized the challenge luxury brands and authorized retailers have long had with the question of what to do with unsold inventory at the end of every season. Discounting would hurt the brand perception, while destroying excess inventory was wasteful and harmful to the environment. The brothers realized they could solve this industry problem by sourcing unsold watches, jewelry, leather goods and other luxury accessories from brands and retailers and sell them directly to consumers online at attractive prices.
The company was named “ShopWorn” after the retail industry term used to define products showcased in store displays and windows. Shop worn products have only ever been handled by staff or tried on by customers but have never been sold. Some have never left store vaults. The “worn” part of shop worn refers to minor cosmetic or surface wear naturally occurring as the item is handled. Being shop worn prevents the items from being considered new, but since no consumers have ever bought the items, they also can’t be considered pre-owned. This distinction helps define pricing and has made ShopWorn’s relationships with its luxury partners more important than ever during this unprecedented pandemic climate.
“No one could have predicted how COVID-19 would impact the global retail industry,” said Larry Birnbaum, ShopWorn CEO. “In the face of this crisis, we stand by our brand and retail partners. As we source more merchandise from our existing partners while cultivating new relationships, we will continue to protect their luxury brand image under the ShopWorn name. Through these valued partner relationships, our customers trust the authenticity of our products and realize their tremendous savings comes exclusively by benefit of being a ShopWorn customer.”
In the five years since launch, ShopWorn has quickly become a shopping destination for customers who want to be the first to own authentic, unused luxury watches, jewelry, leather goods and other accessories without paying premium prices. Because ShopWorn only works with authorized retailers or directly with brands, every product is guaranteed to be 100% authentic. A ShopWorn customer never has to worry if a watch has been refurbished using unauthorized parts or if a handbag is fake. The direct relationship between ShopWorn, brands and authorized dealers alleviates any question of authenticity. And because customers should be able to trust what they see and buy online is what they receive, all ShopWorn product images are from an in-house photographer, who takes a picture of every item available on the site.
ShopWorn’s philosophy of transparency with both partners and customers has allowed the company to sustain an average 30% year over year growth since launch.