Enabling an innovative circular economy business model in retail
Consumers have embraced sustainable fashion. But retailers are still grappling with how to implement circular business models. We helped Stuffstr, an innovative technology start-up that collects, recycles, refurbishes and resells used clothing on behalf of brands, develop the backend systems it needed to grow its business and operations.
- Provided the IT infrastructure needed to become a major player in sustainable retail
- Migrated the Stuffstr IT infrastructure from a partner platform to its own cloud environment on AWS
- Developed a sustainable and scalable end-to-end serverless warehouse management solution to track, triage and store received clothing and shoes
- Created a mobile application to track the end-to-end warehouse processes
Meeting consumers’ need for sustainable clothing
Digitally wired, environmentally conscious consumers are driving change in retail. They’re buying clothing from sustainable retailers like Patagonia and REI. They’re participating in buy-one, give-one models pioneered by Tom’s and others. They’re renting clothing through subscriptions like Mud Jeans. And they’re choosing used clothing rather than fast fashion. But up to 70 per cent of all consumer goods still end up in landfills. Meanwhile, retailers and charities struggle with environmental issues such as the burning or landfilling of unsold, damaged and donated inventory, among others.
Creating more value from used clothing
Stuffstr aims to help brands and consumers create more value from clothing by facilitating the sale of used clothing. Consumers can sell back a brand’s clothing via their mobile app, which Stuffstr integrates with, accepting a price that will increasingly be set by artificial intelligence, and returning items through a free mail-in bag. Stuffstr then processes, cleans, repairs, stores and resells the goods, recycling items that aren’t reusable. And the consumer receives an e-gift card they can use to buy new products from the brand. It’s an ingenious system that attracted Adidas to become Stuffstr’s first client.
Creating automated warehousing operations at speed
Stuffstr needed to migrate its IT infrastructure from a partner’s platform to its own environment while developing automated warehousing capabilities quickly. The company had brand partnerships and was already accepting consumer goods. But staff were processing items manually, increasing time, cost and the likelihood of human error.
Our diverse team of experts oversaw the handover and migration of Stuffstr’s Kubernetes production environment and Relational Database Service instances to AWS. We also designed, built and implemented a fully serverless warehouse management system (WMS), delivering code in one-week sprints, and app for warehouse operators. The WMS has an end-to-end process flow that scaled production 100-fold in just six weeks, with the app letting operators scan items, shelves and palettes so they can move items around the warehouse effortlessly. It’s also sustainable, as the servers shut down when not in use, reducing Stuffstr’s costs and energy footprint.
Stuffstr’s service enables brands to engage with consumers more often and help them reap more value from clothing. The start-up also keeps clothing in circulation as long as possible, reducing its environmental impact.