July 27, 2023
We are excited to announce our investment in Croissant, a fintech platform that helps retailers, consumers and resellers participate in the circular economy across the entire buyer’s journey — from the initial purchase check-out to the final resale.
The circular economy has seen a surge in popularity over the past decade, spurred by evolving consumer preferences for sustainable living. And, amidst the current macroeconomic uncertainty, secondhand is capturing consumers’ wallet share at unprecedented rate: in apparel, 1 in 3 items bought in the last 12 months was pre-owned. Today, the global secondhand market sits at $211 billion and is expected to nearly double by 2027, growing at a CAGR of nearly 14% — the fastest-growing segment in retail.
Unsurprisingly, we have seen a number of startups trying to capitalize on this trend, spurring a wave of consignment marketplaces, peer-to-peer resale companies, and subscription rental services. Similarly, hundreds of retailers have launched their own resale shops as an instrument to drive customer loyalty, while reducing waste and benefiting the environment.
However, the circular economy continues to face a number of challenges. Merchants want to control the resale experience for their brand, but they must pay high upfront costs to create their own resale platforms; in addition, they struggle with acquiring customers due to increasing digital media costs. Resellers and consignment marketplaces grapple with outdated and stale inventory, as well as high authentication and logistics expenses. Finally, consumers have little-to-no visibility into the resale value of the items they purchase; as a result, old items often end up being donated or thrown away or sit idly in junk drawers or in closets.
That’s where Croissant comes in. Croissant’s technology integrates into an online merchant’s existing shopping experience and, using artificial intelligence, offers consumers a guaranteed buyback value at checkout. Shoppers can then resell their items at the predetermined price and Croissant will handle the entire resale process, leveraging its broad network of resellers and consignment marketplaces.
We believe that Croissant’s approach benefits all three constituents in the circular economy. Merchants see increased conversion rates and an uplift in average order value, as the guaranteed buyback value acts as a psychological discount for customers. Resellers gain access to high-quality, predictable inventory that has already been authenticated. And consumers can more confidently enter the circular economy with one simple click.
Croissant is the brainchild of John Howard. When we first met John, we were immediately impressed with his vision to create a fintech layer that powers the end-to-end journey from retail to resale. John brings over a decade of experience in financial technology, as a former fintech-focused private equity investor at KKR. In these roles, he had a front-row seat to the proliferation of e-commerce point-of-sale solutions of the past decade. But unlike Buy-Now-Pay-Later or other consumer credit-focused offerings, Croissant aims to transform the shopping paradigm from one of debt-fueled consumption to one of asset ownership, amplifying consumers’ purchasing power through resale.
Over the past year, John and his team have cemented relationships with merchants and reselling partners and publicly launched their product in late July. We are excited about what they have built and we are confident that Croissant can play a pivotal role in enabling a richer and more sustainable commerce experience for retailers, resellers, and consumers.