Where is Back Market in its development?
2021 has been an incredibly successful year for the company, especially from a human point of view, since we were able to integrate 200 new employees during the year. The past year has also seen Back Market expand internationally, opening offices in Berlin and Barcelona, as well as entering new markets including Japan.
Refurbished devices are becoming more and more popular around the world and more and more brands and points of sale want to partner with us, as evidenced by our partnership with the Carrefour supermarket chain, in the French premises of which we installed some 120 Back Market smartphone pick-up points.
We have also signed agreements with companies such as Dyson, Bosche and Go Pro. For multinational device manufacturers, the circular economy is no longer an afterthought, but a central part of their business strategy.
Is Back Market inspired by the used car market?
The automotive sector undeniably has the most mature second-hand market in the world. Used vehicle sales account for 70% of total automotive sales, compared to 7% for digital, so Back Market’s growth potential is immense.
If it all started with the sale of spare parts for repair, the used car market flourished when the offer widened to maintenance contracts, parts warranties, financing and of course the sale of used vehicles.
For device makers, the circular economy is no longer an afterthought, but a central part of their business strategy
On the other hand, the sector of refurbished devices is still in its infancy. However, we recently won a major battle with smartphone and computer manufacturers in the form of the Agec law. [a 2020 piece of French anti-waste legislation] which forces them to sell spare parts. This is a significant change in the law, but we have a long way to go.
According to a study recently published by the French Agency for Ecological Transition, a new smartphone emits 86.5 kg of CO2, a refurbished one 80 kg less. At the dawn of the era of digital decarbonization, Back Market is on the right side of history.
What future for Back Market?
Our immediate task is to expand the product resale model. At the moment, we are mainly focusing on smartphones, tablets and video game consoles in France and Germany mainly. We intend to refine our model in addition to expanding to include other markets and devices.
Another key area to monitor is customer service, to limit the brakes on growth. One of the ways we aim to improve the customer experience is through our Back Replace service, through which a Back Market customer can receive a replacement product without having to provide us with their existing damaged product first. Apart from that, we of course intend to continue with our international expansion plans.
What has achieving unicorn status meant for the company?
It’s mostly symbolic, really. What drives Back Market on a daily basis is not these types of financial milestones, but rather our role in the development of the circular economy. The fact that we managed to do that is good, but that was never our main goal.
What I want is for Back Market to be a beacon of good governance and to help popularize a new, more sustainable business model. It is for this reason that we are applying for B-Corp certification.
We have reached a tipping point for environmental issues and environmentalists and business are increasingly on the same page in this regard. We foresee the emergence of more “green unicorns” in the coming years, which will accelerate the ecological transition and lead to profound changes in the way established companies do business.