Interview with John Atcheson

John Atcheson
John Atcheson
Co-founder & CEO

In what way do you connect consumers with retailers who are ready to buy back old stuff?

The connection is very immediate.  Stuffstr is embedded directly into the apps and websites of our retail partners, so the customer can seamlessly pull up their purchase history and see an instant buy-back price offered on every item.  Once a minimum value threshold is reached, the customer can simply press a button and have the items collected the same day for free and receive payment in the form of an e-gift card as soon as the items are received.

What are the challenges you face in your day-to-day operations?

We have a tremendous advantage over traditional re-commerce players in that we know everything about the items we are receiving before they arrive (product details, original purchase dates, etc.).  Nonetheless, we still have to process and re-circulate each and every item.  Anytime logistics are involved, the devil is in the details.  So we partner with experienced players to the maximum extent possible.

Are only the bigger brands tying up with you? What is your plan to reach more retailers-big or small-and form partnership with them?

Ultimately, our goal is to work with everyone, and to create a universal platform for re-circulating every single item.  To do that, we need to work with both big and small retailers.  Fortunately, small retailers are increasingly moving their point of sale systems to cloud-based solutions like Shopify, Lightspeed and Square.  It is very easy for us to integrate with these systems, and we can cover multiple retailers with a single integration.  This greatly accelerates our ability to expand.

Which are your markets where the re-cycled stuff is sent? How does the supply chain work?

We have big plans for the items that cannot be resold.  In the short term, the options for these items are limited to the current channels for recycling.  In the case of clothing, this could involve shredding items to serve as insulation or as stuffing for upholstery.  In the longer term, though, we see Stuffstr as a platform for fostering innovation in the area of material reprocessing.  For example, there is tremendous innovation going on right now in the chemical recycling of fabrics.  Companies such as Worn Again can take blended garments and turn the cotton into new fabric while converting the polyester into reusable plastic beads.  Stuffstr can aid the development of these businesses by providing a steady flow of specific materials, because we know the material content of every item.

How are consumers reacting to closing the loop and circular economy?

In general, we have found that consumers want to lessen the impact of their consumption; they want to be part of the solution.  But they are dramatically more likely to do that if there is no additional cost or effort involved.  Ideally, they act because it is actually cheaper and easier to do the right thing.  This is where I believe circular economy-beyond traditional sustainability initiatives-holds so much promise.  Circular economy represents a tremendous economic opportunity based on the principle of resource efficiency.  Every day around the world, literally billions of dollars are wasted on perfectly usable items and materials being thrown into landfill.  If we can capture that value by keeping all materials continually in play, everybody wins. 

At Stuffstr, we have placed tremendous focus on making it easier, faster and more monetarily attractive for people to re-circulate their things than letting them pile up and ultimately go to landfill.  Capturing the wasted value of these items-estimated at over $400 billion per year in the United States alone-is what enables us to benefit both consumers and retail partners with money left to run our business.

What is the amount of clothing, footwear and accessories collected so far?

Our pilot results give us a clear idea of what to expect when we launch this fall.  It is a significant number.  Maybe check back with us several months from now!

How does Stuffstr work? Do you have an app? Which countries are you available in?

We are currently targeting only the United Kingdom but have plans to expand to other countries in 2020.  Our primary distribution is through integration into the apps and websites of our retail partners.

What are the plans going ahead? What are the major targets and goals set for 2020?

By the end of 2020, we expect to be operational in at least three countries, and to be a significant player in the re-commerce space in at least two of those countries. (HO)
Published on: 23/09/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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