Poshmark announced today that it will start adding well-known retail brands to its active community of women’s fashion-focused buyers and sellers.
The move is pretty significant for Poshmark. The service launched in 2011 as an online marketplace that brings buyers and sellers together and has, until now, been a platform for designed primarily for clothing and accessory resale. There are over a million sellers on Poshmark uploading the inventory equivalent of a Nordstorm store every week. With the combined power of Poshmark’s sellers, the platform is essentially opening just over 50 Nordstrom stores each year, with more than 5,000 brands represented in said inventory.
Not only is the seller community active, though — Poshmark’s buyers are also a very active bunch. Poshmark founder and CEO Manish Chandra highlights the importance of the strong, active community to Poshmark’s success. Much of the company’s efforts revolve around building user feeds and providing both buyers and sellers with tools that keep users engaged.
“The result is that today, our average user opens the app somewhere between 7 to 9 times a day, and spends somewhere between 20 to 25 minutes a day in the app,” says Chandra. “So, you have some Instagram/Facebook-level of engagement in the platform.”
Those are some pretty impressive usage stats. Over the last few years as Poshmark has been scaling rapidly, with their users following suit. Though many of the sellers in the Poshmark network likely started selling out of their own closets, some have begun tapping local wholesale markets and, as Chandra says, “effectively converting their closet into a full-blown fashion boutique.”
That said, this is why the move to expand into retail opportunities makes a lot of sense. Poshmark’s expansion is going to center around a wholesale portal that’ll give sellers the opportunity to connect with brands and buy merchandise to sell in their online Poshmark stores through said portal. For many sellers, this means access to new wholesale channels and inventory. Style Mafia and Snob Essentials are among the first round of brands spearheading the retail expansion, but dozens more are set to join the charge.
“We wanted fashion brands to be able to connect this massive sales force of one million sellers that we’ve created and also for sellers to have access to the best of the best and even to the new fashion brands that are emerging,” says Chandra. “So to do that, we’ve created a wholesale portal, which allows fashion brands to stock up wholesale inventory into that portal and for our sellers to come in and shop… and really buy wholesale inventory directly from their brands on our platform, and then use that existing commerce and logistics engine to service their platform.”
On the buyer side, the Poshmark experience will give buyers the flexibility to choose between resale and retail items, or to browse both. Chandra compares Poshmark’s vast catalog and new shopping options to Uber, where users have some flexibility in tailoring their experience, whether it’s UberX or Black Car service. “It gives a flexibility that shoppers have really never had on any platform out there to choose how and what they shop.”
Though Poshmark is expanding its services into an entirely new arena with retail opportunities, much of Poshmark’s main focus is unchanged. Because Poshmark’s strength doesn’t necessary lie with specific brands or a single outstanding feature, it lies within the community. This expansion isn’t an attempt to overhaul user experience, but to give the buying, selling and brand communities new ways to access one another.
“In one shot, [brands] can move inventory into a group of sellers that they never had access to. For sellers, they can come to one area, choose the brands they like, and stock up their stores in ones shot. And for our shoppers, they start to get access to an increasingly large selection of merchandise, which gives them the power to shop resale and retail. And we’re launching the wholesale portal partnership with over a dozen different fashion brands, with many many more in the pipeline.”
In addition to the retail wholesale portal expansion, Poshmark is also announcing a new “Poshmark Fashion Entrepreneurs Fund”, which will award $500 grants (not loans, grants) to 50 Poshmark sellers to help them begin scaling their business.
“That, I think, is very much who we are,” says Chandra. “Our growth is synergistic with the growth of our community, and everything we do is really to support our community to grow, which ultimately drives the growth of Poshmark.”