This simple idea hopes to turn Amazon into the world’s biggest sustainable second-hand store

Ever wondered how difficult it is to get rid of stuff? Or rather, get rid of stuff at the right price? Our current e-commerce setup is perfect for buying and selling new things, but that’s about it… It doesn’t encourage thrifting, second-hand selling, renting, recycling, or repairing. You can ask Alexa to order you a coffee machine and it arrives at your doorstep the next day; but what do you do when the coffee machine needs repairing? Or if you want to sell the machine because you don’t really use it? That’s where Scott Amron’s brilliant idea comes in.

We spoke to Scott about Amazon After back in 2019 when it was just a nascent idea. Over the last year, Scott’s had some time to really develop the idea and flesh its details out. His idea broadly builds on Amazon’s ability to serve its customers, extending its world-class service beyond just the ‘Checkout’ button. With Amazon After, your product journey doesn’t end with the checkout. Amazon After actively manages your products after you buy them, giving you the ability to check their second-hand value, and resell them, rent them, recycle them, repair them, or donate them… or as Scott says, “Amazon After can add value to every Amazon purchase and extend the life cycle of the products Amazon sells. It puts the customer first, after.”

Scott describes Amazon After as a ‘very smart wanted ad’. Someone who wants to purchase a product gets the option of buying it second-hand at a lower price. They input their asking value and Amazon instantly notifies every single person who bought that product. If a product-owner finds the asker’s price agreeable, Amazon facilitates the purchase just like it would when you buy something from an Amazon Seller. The product is collected from one owner and delivered to the new owner, and Amazon gets a small cut… but more interestingly enough, it ensures people who don’t need a product aren’t forced to own it, and can easily get rid of it for a quick buck. What’s more exciting is that Scott believes this will actually drive people to use the Amazon service and the app much more, allowing them to easily open their past orders and see exactly how much all their products are worth on the second-hand market. If at any point in time you see a potential buyer quoting an amount of money you’re happy with, just agree to the trade and Amazon jumps in to be the facilitator. It also creates a powerful market for collectibles… something Scott noticed when he went to buy a BB8 toy for his child, only to see it was being resold as a collectible for nearly 10 times the actual retail price.

Obviously, this new buyer-seller interaction hinges solely on sellers conforming to the ‘trust code’. The ability to resell products would only be available to Prime members, creating an exclusive club of resellers (one that anyone can join), and these members will be expected to be honest while reselling their products, listing if it’s unused, overused, damaged, or defective. Moreover, the Amazon After feature also unlocks other abilities, like donating items, finding repairers, or efficient recyclers. If you have a niche product that requires an expert to fix (say a Smoke Alarm for example), Amazon currently doesn’t offer any after-sales services – apart from probably letting you download the user manual. With Amazon After, you can have the right people come over and fix it, or even dispose of it effectively for you, enabling it to be recycled properly. You see, Amazon already handles returns, so it’s just a small yet significant upgrade on their part to also handle reselling as well as repair… but for the consumer, it gives you a reason to shop on the e-commerce website knowing that you’ll be entitled to Amazon’s state-of-the-art services even after you hit that ‘Buy Now’ button. Not to mention the fact that it keeps products in circulation, so that the “Currently Unavailable” sign becomes a thing of the past and people are more inclined to buy, sell, and use pre-loved products… sort of like the world’s largest thrift or second-hand store!

Designer: Amron Experimental (Scott Amron)

The Amazon After service isn’t affiliated with or sponsored by Amazon. There is no existing partnership or collaboration between the service and Amazon. The Amazon trademark is owned by Amazon.