The world of commerce has seen more change over the last two years than it has in the previous decade.
Businesses have had to adapt to supply chain disruptions, inflation, the dramatic rise of ecommerce, and the growing dominance of Amazon’s Prime delivery offering. We’ve also seen a radical shift in consumer behaviour, as people have begun prioritising brands that resonate with them because of geography, company values, or sustainability.
One important trend in this changing environment is the fundamental nature of consumer interactions with goods, which has moved from an ownership model towards an access model (renting or accessing products when needed).
In a recently published survey, 74 percent of consumers expect to own fewer products in five years, instead subscribing to a diverse range of services to access goods.
Think about it. How many items are in your home right now that have only been used once or twice over the last few years? (I’m looking at you, festival tent I’ve used twice since I bought you five years ago.)
- Ikea has been testing leased furniture
- Nike launched a shoe subscription service for children
- H&M has trialled clothes rentals
- Decathlon has launched equipment rentals
But commerce software today is designed for selling goods, not accessing them. This approach fails to cater to the significantly more complex operations involved in selling access (inventory management, cash flow and operational flows are all more complex under this model). Smaller merchants thus face substantial challenges when attempting to launch and scale access-model business operations.
That’s why we’re incredibly excited to back Rentle, the commerce platform enabling and facilitating the access economy.
The Rentle platform offers white-labelled solutions and back-office software to enable merchants to manage data around inventory, product catalogues, transactions, and buyer information.
Rentle also offers a suite of merchant solutions, including payments and delivery, and is also planning to expand into other offerings such as insurance, shipping, and financing. Much like Shopify enables merchants to easily sell goods online, Rentle powers merchants seeking to rent or provide on-demand access to goods online.
Rentle was started in Finland, a country with many early adopters of the circular economy, and it’s since expanded across Europe. Rentle currently supports over 400 stores across 40 countries. The company has also worked with large companies, such as Decathlon and Rab.
Tuomo Laine, Rentle’s CEO and co-founder, has been obsessed with the access economy since rental bikes first came to Helsinki. However, he wasn’t satisfied with the speed of market transitions to this more sustainable method.
In Rentle, Tuomo has assembled a skilled and passionate team which is hungry to grow the access market by increasing quality and durability, while also minimising global extraction and maximising local recycling of materials.
We’re thrilled to invest in Rentle’s Seed+ round, and we look forward to working closely with Tuomo and his team as they expand and realise their mission to accelerate the sustainable consumption of durable goods.