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E-commerce: boom in second-hand goods, business worth 25 billion

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E-commerce: boom in second-hand goods, business worth 25 billion

Sustainability and E-Commerce: the interview with the CEO of Subito.it: “The potential of second hand? An impressive environmental advantage”

“Second-hand generates a turnover of 25 billion euros in Italy, equal to 1.3% of the national GDP.” Thus Giuseppe Pasceri, CEO of Subito.it, the country’s leading platform for the buying and selling of used goods (18.5 million unique users every month), underlines the success of second-hand goods on Italian territory.

But why are more and more Italians choosing second-hand? Sustainability, circular economy, waste reduction and savings. These are the principles that influence the purchasing choices of those who turn to the second-hand market. An important role in this sense is played by technology and online marketplaces such as Subito, where it is possible to sell and buy a vast range of products, from houses to cars, from smartphones to clothing.

With a double-digit increase in turnover in 2023, Subito.it is positioned as one of the main e-commerce platforms in Italy. But to understand more, affaritaliani.it spoke with its CEO, Giuseppe Pasceri.

With over 54.5 million ads published and 2.7 billion searches in 2023, Subito.it has seen growth across all metrics. What factors do you believe were decisive?

We have an almost obsessive attention towards users, being a customer-focused company. In recent years, we have focused on creating a platform that meets everyone’s needs, so two years ago, we introduced “Tuttosubito” to transform our marketplace into a transactional environment for online purchases and sales, in a secure and integrated way. This constant attention to the quality of the service offered allows us to grow both in terms of effective use of the platform and from a financial point of view.

So much so that last year the estimate of the turnover of the second-hand market in Italy, carried out in collaboration with Doxa, exceeded 24 billion euros, equivalent to 1.3% of the national GDP, thus confirming the importance of a significant industrial sector. Almost half of this figure, equal to 11 and a half billion, takes place online, where Subito plays the leading role.

How has the behavior of the average user changed over the years?

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We have been active in the online second-hand sector since 2007 and were the first to introduce the concept of “classified online” in Italy. If we ask Italians which medium they find most convenient, two thirds indicate online. From a user behavior perspective, we clearly noticed a change pre- and post-pandemic. There has been a notable increase in digitalisation in user segments that were previously less inclined to use the web and approached it more occasionally.

Today, however, many segments of the older population use apps more frequently in addition to the web. For example, four years ago, Subito usage via the app represented just over 40%, with mobile web usage predominating and a significant percentage on desktop. Today the use of the app has increased, reaching around 60%, while the share of mobile web use represents the remaining part, around 10%.

Second hand becoming increasingly “e-commerce like”, do you feel threatened by the big e-commerce giants? What distinguishes Subito.it from players like Amazon?

What we deal with presents dynamics similar to those of e-commerce thanks to the transactions that make the second-hand market equally accessible and immediate. The substantial difference lies in the fact that on Subito it is possible not only to buy, but also to sell. Private users put their objects online in all categories and sectors, from cars to homes and electronics.

We like to define ourselves as actors in the re-commerce, since the items on sale are second-hand and the concept of sustainability is an added value provided by the users themselves. Second-hand products bring with them an impressive environmental advantage. Last year, thanks to Subito, around 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 were saved.

With traffic generated mainly by cars and motorbikes, what strategies is Subito adopting to further diversify the product categories offered and satisfy the emerging needs of consumers?

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Our strategy is to remain generalists and never become a single vertical; Indeed, we aim to have a strong multi-vertical presence, with four distinct sectors within our offering: the general market, motors, real estate and the section dedicated to work and services. The goal is to generate value within each of these areas, considering that purchasing dynamics vary greatly: purchasing a car is different from purchasing a house.

While adopting a basic generalist approach, we also constantly seek to improve ancillary services. For example, in the automotive sector we offer additional services such as car inspection or insurance, while in the real estate sector we provide mortgage-related services. This approach aimed at also improving the ancillary aspects contributes to making the overall user experience increasingly satisfactory.

Looking to the future, how do you plan to stay abreast of market changes and maintain a dominant position in the re-commerce sector?

The Subito.it platform is entirely developed and managed in Italy by our team, made up of around 150 professionals including engineers, data scientists and user experience managers. The entire manufacturing value chain happens in-house, which allows us to orchestrate an extremely effective development and work flow. We set annual goals and discuss them quarterly to evaluate our product penetration, user experience and satisfaction.

By integrating cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, into the fabric of our marketplace, we are seeking to revolutionize the way people connect and improve the user experience. Our modus operandi, what allows us to be on the crest of the wave, in step with the times, is to introduce the most modern technologies to solve ancient problems.

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