By adaptive - December 21st, 2015
The Poshmark app has helped some women turn their closets into virtual boutiques. The mobile-first company claims to be the largest community-driven marketplace where women buy, sell and share their personal style.
Poshmark Founder and CEO Manish Chandra discussed the Menlo Park, California-based company’s evolution and outlook with OMM’s Robert Gray.
OMM: For the uninitiated, how does Poshmark work?
Chandra: Poshmark allows any woman to take any fashion item, take a photo, write a quick description and within 60 seconds it’s available for sale in the marketplace.
Poshmark is built entirely around a social architecture, where women connect with other women and shop their style. They build followers, much like you would on a traditional social network.
This community marketplace powers a vast network of over 800,000 sellers to create their own businesses selling their style. Top sellers on Poshmark are making upwards of six-figures - they are leveling up, going from selling items from their closets to running a full-fledged fashion business.
As a buyer, you can shop from hundreds of thousands of closets for new or gently used fashion at prices up to 70 percent off retail.
OMM: How quickly is Poshmark growing these days?
Chandra: We recently hit a run rate of $200 million in annual sales - double where we were in the beginning of 2015. Our community continues to spend 25 minutes on the app, opening it seven to eight times daily.
We also recently raised $25 million in new financing and were one of the first fashion marketplaces to launch an app for the first generation Apple Watch.
OMM: How is your mobile-first model disrupting how women buy and sell fashion?
Chandra: Before Poshmark, you either had to go to consignment stores, figure out how to find buyers on eBay or physically open up an online or offline boutique. Because Poshmark went all in on mobile in 2011, we created the simplest way to list any item for sale right from your phone, focused on building a vibrant community and provided an easy to use social platform that would help any woman build an engaged customer base, allowing them to connect, follow each other and shop one another’s style.
Because of the style data we compiled based on social interactions in the mobile marketplace, Poshmark has created a personalized shopping experience that knows what you want to buy before you even do and helps connect you to women whose style you may want to shop. This new type of behavior where women would rather shop from each other than traditional retail channels has the capacity to completely transform the e-commerce industry.
OMM: And it is primarily women customers, right?
Chandra: Yes, Poshmark is currently only selling women’s fashion and the majority of our customers are female.
OMM: How does Poshmark differentiate itself from numerous competitors?
Chandra: What separates Poshmark from other companies, whether they be physical stores or online retailers, is our focus on people… Unlike other industries where search and price reign supreme, fashion is the one category that will always be discovery based. That is why online giants like Amazon and eBay have spent billions trying to build community and curation into their platforms and why social networks are struggling to introduce commerce. The two must be built out in tandem from the very beginning and that’s what we’ve done - creating an infinitely scalable marketplace that nails supply, demand and the efficient matching of the two.
OMM: How have you figured out a supply and demand balance, and efficiently matching the two given it would seem to be a fluid market?
Chandra: On the supply side, Poshmark has made it so any woman can become a merchant right from her phone. Women upload over $2 million worth of inventory every day into the marketplace and currently there are over 12 million items for sale from over 5,000 different brands.
If you look at traditional marketplaces, typically very few people can become producers. For example, on Airbnb not everyone has a house, Uber not everyone has a car, Etsy not everyone is a maker. On Poshmark, we just recruit a woman, and she is both a buyer and a seller.
We created the share button on every listing. In doing this, we introduced a new role into the marketplace, the “stylist”, who shares items they love with their followers and efficiently merchandise the massive amount of inventory being uploaded. There are over one million shares per day, and these stylists are core to Poshmark’s success and the key to matching supply and demand.
OMM: How much of your sales come through mobile?
Chandra: Poshmark was built entirely on mobile and we focused on that platform for the first three years of the business and just last year fully built out the web experience. In order to maintain a seamless selling experience, you can still only list items for sale via the phone. As a result, 95 percent of Poshmark’s sales come through mobile.