Resale platform, Poshmark, which recently filed on NASDAQ, turned to Australia as the first leg of its global expansion. We spoke to CEO and Co-Founder, Manish Chandra, about the online boom, the future of sustainable retailing and what's next for Poshmark.
Australian consumers are embracing the resale trend, and businesses are jumping on the bandwagon in the process.
Poshmark was founded in 2011 in the US by Manish Chandra, Tracy Sun, Gautam Golwala and Chetan Pungaliya, and operates as a “social marketplace that combines the human connection of a physical shopping experience with the scale, reach, ease and selection benefits of e-commerce,” the IPO prospectus explained.
According to Poshmark’s IPO prospectus, there’s a sale on its platform every second in the US. Furthermore, in 2019, it doubled its revenue from USD 1 billion to USD 2 billion in 12 months.
The business expanded into Canada in 2019 and turned to Down Under as the first stop in its non-North American expansion. At the moment, Australian consumers are more comfortable with online shopping than ever before. In fact, according to Power Retail research, 46 percent of Aussie consumers are more comfortable shopping online than they were this time last year. For Chandra, this comes as no surprise.
“E-commerce is booming globally, and Australia is the perfect example of that growth,” he told us. “Research shows that 79 percent of Aussies increased their online shopping in 2020 and 90 percent spent up to two hours each week browsing or purchasing items online.”
“At the same time, social commerce is a global phenomenon, and we saw the Australian market as an exciting new frontier to introduce our marketplace,” he said. Chandra explained that as online shoppers’ comfort levels continue to grow, Australian consumers will become increasingly curious about new platforms that offer the “social aspect of shopping and the ease, selection and convenience of e-commerce”.
“In addition, secondhand shopping has grown exponentially since we founded Poshmark in 2011. Consumers are prioritising the impact that their purchases have on the environment,” he said. “The thrill of the treasure hunt — whether that be finding bargains or unique items — is loved by many, as are the sustainability aspects of shopping pre-loved items.”
According to Power Retail data, 71 percent of Australian consumers prefer to shop online than in-store, compared to 62 percent in 2020. Of course, there are still a few hurdles that may prevent consumers from buying online. So, how will Poshmark fill the gap with its online platform? For its CEO, it’s all about bridging the personal and human aspects of in-store environments with the ease of an online platform. “Our research shows that it’s the personal and human aspect of in-store environments that Aussies miss most, with almost one in three Aussies (30 percent) more likely to shop online if they could build a relationship with the seller,” he said.
“Our social marketplace allows shoppers and sellers to engage with one another on the app through liking, commenting, offers, sharing and personalised style advice — something one would traditionally only experience in-store. It’s similar to a social network, but everything is shippable,” he said.
Resale platforms that offer luxury goods have become particularly popular in the last 18 months. With platforms like Vestiaire Collective, The RealReal, and more locally, David Jones and THE ICONIC all expanding their luxury resale offerings, it’s no surprise that Poshmark offers something similar.
For buyers who purchase a luxury good over $700, Poshmark will authenticate it with its in-house Posh Authenticate policy. These items are shipped to the business’ office in Sydney – if its authenticity is unavailable, Poshmark will refund the buyer. “We strive to provide a simple, social and sustainable shopping experience, helping both buyers and sellers feel confident on the platform,” Candra explained to Power Retail.
In Australia, the online adoption phase is relatively fresh. This means that the country and its businesses have a plethora of opportunities to explore in the space of technology and innovation. For Poshmark, the are two key technology trends that are enhancing and shaping the future of e-commerce: mobile and creating meaningful social connections online.
“Mobile continues to be number one, and we have focused heavily on video with our Posh Stories tool on the platform,” said Chandra. “The second is creating more meaningful social connections online. At Poshmark, we have kept the focus on fostering connection and community. Technology that truly helps people connect in a meaningful way is the future.”
Speaking of social connections, many social media platforms have introduced shopping functions. Instagram, TikTok and Facebook are becoming well-established spaces for discovering new brands and searching for marketplace finds. How will this impact Poshmark, and what does it mean for the future of social shopping?
For Poshmark, the future includes the combination of social and commerce to create a hyper-personalised experience. “With more than 80 million people on Poshmark, we have broad reach within our marketplace, but we’re also meeting consumers where they are on social media,” Chandra told us. “For example, we’re engaging with consumers where they are with efforts like Poshmark Mini on Snapchat, which reaches a predominantly Gen Z audience. In the next 12 months, Poshmark will help continue strengthening the partnerships and community online.”
Gen Z is a much more digitally native consumer than any retailer has experienced. They’re not afraid to abandon a retailer with strong beliefs if the business doesn’t align with their values. This is something that Poshmark understands in spades.
“Gen Z – and increasingly, all generations – are embracing secondhand to create a more circular, sustainable future and also to creatively, affordably and authentically keep up with key style trends,” Chandra explained. “As the pioneer in secondhand retail, we’re excited to see the continued excitement and attention on this market. It’s a clear signal of the potential and contributes to a more circular, sustainable future.”
So, what does the future of online look like to the CEO of Poshmark? The online resale trend is here to stay if he has anything to do with it. “We believe online resale is a trend that is going to stay. Poshmark provides an easy platform to extend the lifecycle of items, which is good for both people’s wallets and our planet.”
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