Sara Whiffen

Buyer’s remorse? Hardly. Resale turns old buys into boons, upgrading the customer to the newest and best model, a popular behavior in the auto industry. It’s happening to the apparel industry — right now, and individuals like Sara Whiffen, cofounder and chief executive officer of Charlottesville-based start-up Rohvi are aiming to stay ahead of the curve, one e-mail offer at a time.

As a business-to-business re-commerce solution powering clothing “buyback” initiatives for retailers “afraid of resale,” Whiffen, who previously worked at Toyota and Lexus, described “depreciation in clothing” the “same way as a car that drives off the lot.” Just as new cars depreciate when they are driven off the lot, clothing loses some of its value after it’s worn. But buyback programs increase customer loyalty and help acquire new customers.

Brands are already lassoing customer data with sharp precision, but when it comes to their product, some are in the dumps. Instead of reaching back into their customers’ closets, brands sit on customer data as clothing depreciates.

“Our solution works for retailers who fear resale as well as for those who are ready to embrace it,” added Whiffen. She cites a “good [partnership] fit” under two conditions: the retailer already collects and stores customer transaction data, and they sell brands that have resale value.

Resale value means an item is in good wearable condition and likely without defects. As a consumer would bite her tongue standing across the counter during a clothing buy appraisal at a thrift shop — wondering what she can get for her worn clothes — the customer engaged in a buyback offer has the upper hand.

Using its proprietary algorithm, Rohvi creates “individualized buyback offers” for a retailer’s customers based on the sales data shared by the retailer. Customers are invited via e-mail to exchange a previously purchased item for a fixed amount of store credit for something new. The offers are retailer-branded and have an expiration date. Responses generate new data for the retailer on how customers are feeling about their items, what they choose to hold onto, and which items best retain their value. This data can be applied to improve buying and pricing decisions.

Rohvi email

Rohvi works with retailers to send personalized buyback e-mails.  Courtesy Image

“Retailers are investing in collecting and storing customer data. Rohvi enables them to use it in a way that benefits both retailers and customers,” reiterated Whiffen.

As a white-label platform, the retailer can configure the experience to deliver on their brand. Rohvi is designed to allow the retailer to take control of resale — and use it to their advantage.