ActuaLitté: How do you explain the place given to books and comics in second-hand practices in France?
Heiner Kroke: In a context of economic slowdown and declining purchasing power, the French are looking for solutions to save money. The second hand thus makes it possible to benefit from more affordable prices to continue to enjoy culture and leisure. This economic issue is also cited as the main motivation for second-hand buyers, as revealed by our recent study on recommerce. The latter also notes that books are the most popular cultural items, and among them, novels and comics come out on top.
A success which is partly explained by the enthusiasm of the French for these genres. Indeed, France is one of the world’s style ambassadors and has world-famous classic and contemporary authors such as Uderzo, Philippe Francq, Manu Larcenet and Pénélope Bagieu, not to mention the Angoulême Comics Festival. The triumph of Marvels and Co. blockbusters also largely contributes to this success with younger generations. In addition to lower prices, the second hand is also associated with the vintage dimension and offers the possibility of unearthing articles that are sometimes difficult to find, such as certain American comics and Japanese manga: it can therefore embody a formidable resource for bargain hunters.
In addition, ecology is also a very strong issue for fans of the occasion. As such, it represents an alternative to the purchase of new products and therefore to overconsumption, since it gives a second life to unused objects. When you think about it, the books you buy often end up in a library after being read, and stay there for several years, when they would make many other readers happy.
Mangas have enjoyed significant editorial success in recent years: what do you observe in the statistics of purchases and repurchases of momox?
Heiner Kroke: Manga is indeed a very strong trend in France. With more than 29 million volumes sold between January and August 2021, the country is the second largest consumer of manga and this format is proving to be the most dynamic in the publishing sector. Whether manga or anime, these stories have a huge community of fans in France, who no longer hesitate to turn to the occasion to unearth new finds. momox offers a wide selection of popular and less popular Japanese comics, One Piece at Demon Slayer Passing by naruto.
[N.B. momox nous précise que la catégorisation des achats/ventes ne permet pas d’atteindre ce degré de détails sur les biens achetés et revendus]
What was the volume of books sold to momox by the French in 2021? Is the trend in 2022 up?
Heiner Kroke: The company is continuing to develop, particularly in France, in a market that continues to perform with sales of 58 million euros in 2021. As such, momox has bought back more than 5.6 million pounds from individuals in 2021 via its momox.fr website and the momox app. A figure up 11% compared to 2020 and which should continue to grow in 2022 (based on estimates of results for the first half of 2022).
Regarding books, what is the share of purchases made directly on the momox platform, and that of purchases from marketplaces where momox has an account? Is this multiplication of momox sales channels (in-house platform and marketplace) destined to continue?
Heiner Kroke: About half of purchases are made on our momox-shop platform. Next come Amazon, followed by Fnac and Rakuten, and finally ebay and abebooks. Of course, we are capitalizing on our core platform, but we are also very excited to be able to offer our products on other marketplace platforms as this allows more consumers to access and benefit from the opportunity.
Is Momox considering setting up warehouses in France? If not, for what reason(s)?
Heiner Kroke: This is not part of our plans for the moment, but we are not closing the door to this idea. Our warehouse in Leipzig, Germany currently allows us to efficiently manage the logistics of orders in France. In 2021, we made significant investments in the extension of this site, as well as the one based in Poland in Szezecin.
In Leipzig, in particular, we rented two new halls and gained 45,000 m2 of additional surface area. The site, where more than 14 million items (cultural items and second-hand clothing) are stored, now employs 1,400 people.
The book chain is wondering about its ecological impact: what is the carbon footprint of the flows created by momox’s activity (book shipments, for redemptions and purchases)? What solutions does the group implement to reduce its ecological impact?
Heiner Kroke: The climate crisis is everyone’s business and companies must obviously put in place solutions to reduce their environmental impact. Thanks to our model based on reuse and the circular economy, we have already offered a second life to more than 315 million people and helped to save precious resources.
We are also working with Planetly by OneTrust to measure the carbon emissions generated by all of our activities since 2020, and thus identify areas for improvement to implement relevant and effective measures.
In France, several reflections are underway on the creation of a tax on the sale of second-hand books, in particular those sold on the Internet: do you consider that this tax is desirable? would momox maintain its activities in France in the event of the creation of such a tax, and would it comply with it?
Heiner Kroke: Of course, we would like European governments to support the second-hand market because it is one of the ways for a more sustainable mode of consumption. The introduction of a tax would logically lead to an increase in market prices with a direct impact on consumer budgets, which is undesirable in a tense economic context marked by inflation and the slowdown in purchasing power. However, if this tax were to come into force, we would not consider leaving the French market and will do everything to continue to support consumers who choose second-hand.
What are the development paths for momox and its application?
Heiner Kroke: In particular, we will continue to develop our mobile application, which allows our customers to quickly sell their cultural items by scanning their barcode. We want to make it a real reflex for sellers, by making it even more fluid and easy to use.
At the same time, we plan to continue the development of our momox-shop site internationally, particularly in Italy and Spain, as well as the launch of momox fashion in France (purchase and sale of second-hand clothes, available in Germany since 2014) which will complete our offer very soon.
Photography: a momox warehouse (momox), Heiner Kroke (momox)