When Olive launched in 2021, it aimed to eliminate waste from online shopping by enabling consumers to order from multiple sites and get products in one reusable package.
Today, the company relaunches itself in the business-to-business space to work initially with apparel retailers on establishing a circular economy that delivers clothing and accessory orders in waste-free, reusable packaging, while also making consignment easier.
Olive starting with apparel is fitting because the fashion industry is quite wasteful, contributing an estimated 13 million tons of textile to landfills per year. It’s an area that quite a few venture-backed companies are also attacking, from thredUp to Vinted to Archive.
Olive founder Nate Faust, who previously co-founded Jet.com and then sold the company to Walmart in 2016, told TechCrunch he saw where consumer behavior was shifting: more of a “buy, buy, purge,” behavior, where people buy until their closets bulge and then they get rid of clothes so they can buy more. He wanted to move the company in a direction to offer a new solution.
“We want it to be more of a ‘buy one, sell one’ behavior that gets items into that secondary market easier and faster when the items still have a more usable life,” he added.
Ironically, Faust said the B2B approach was something Olive’s brand partners had asked for when the company launched its business-to-consumer service in 2021. At that time, doing multiple shipments was too cumbersome and would mean double the transportation costs for retailers, he added.
However, the company strengthened its resale side of things through the acquisition of Linda’s Stuff, one of eBay’s largest resellers. Now, consumers can put their gently used items into Olive’s reusable packaging where it is handed off to Linda’s Stuff to be sold on eBay. The majority of the items sell within 30 days, and the customer and Olive split the sale proceeds.
In the new model, according to the company, customers place an order with a brand that offers “Olive waste-free delivery” at checkout. Olive partners with the brand to pack, ship and deliver the customer’s order in Olive’s reusable packaging.
If the customer wishes to return the item, Olive picks it up and returns it to the retailer. If they wish to consign them, they put the items in the same packaging, the items are picked up and sold by Linda’s Stuff.
The company is working with brands. like Rhone and Rent the Runway, and will be expanding its customer base as well as looking at other categories of items that can have multiple uses, for example electronics and some home goods.
“It is a really unique value proposition for brands because we enable them to offer this more sustainable and superior delivery returns experience for their customers, but at truly no additional cost,” Faust added. “We match their delivery and returns costs with existing providers and they never get charged for the pickup of empty packaging.”