Poshmark attempting to revolutionize retail with mobile-first approach

Poshmark combines the some of the best features from major online retailers with a mobile-first approach.


The mobile-first strategy is becoming a hot trend with many startups these days -- including the likes of Uber, GrubHub, and HotelTonight -- which is laying the groundwork for a rather new business model.

Poshmark, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup, is also taking advantage of going mobile-first with its e-commerce and fashion app, drawing consumers farther away from their PC browsers to sell and shop on smartphones from anywhere while on-the-go.

After sampling the app for short while, it looks like Poshmark took the best of some of the leading online and mobile retailers and integrated them all into one platform.

To put it in more relative terms, think of Poshmark as Instagram meets Etsy with some flavoring of the Amazon Marketplace.

Poshmark co-founder and CEO Manish Chandra explained during a media presentation in San Francisco on Tuesday that the idea for the company was spawned by the argument that there are "virtually trillions of dollars" worth of fashion sitting around in closets.

Certainly, that's one of the purposes behind eBay, but Poshmark is more similar to Amazon in that users don't have to pay to list anything while Poshmark just takes a cut of the revenue when the item is actually purchased. Also like Amazon, Poshmark offers a modest shipping credit.

Executives also posited that this mobile approach to online shopping has the potential to revolutionize the market. Visiting the media event via Skype from San Antonio, Texas, frequent Poshmark user Deidre Casey said that the app has "changed the way" she shops, explaining that she rarely makes purchases in stores now.

Chandra asserted that mobile commerce apps like Poshmark are starting to sprout up and take hold now because "mobile became actually good enough to do it."

So far, this mobile approach seems to be working. Poshmark is currently uploading inventory at a run rate of over $40 million per year and is projected to surpass $500 million a year by the end of 2012.

The smartphone-focused strategy also implies that users of the site can publish listings within minutes from basically anywhere. Naturally, there's also a strong social emphasis, with integration for Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

But Poshmark is taking the social aspect a step further what it calls "Posh Parties." Essentially, these are scheduled online events that are themed around particular brands and/or styles. Sellers can either post during these parties to get attention, but the system also aggregates previously existing listings for more coverage.

Earlier this week, Poshmark introduced a feature dubbed "Showrooms," which not only filters and curates listings but also opens the door to both individual users and well-known brands to host parties on their own, offering both small businesses and large retailers with another potential revenue stream.

One of the notable differences between Poshmark and other online stores like Amazon and Etsy is actually the buying and selling process.

Given that a large amount of the inventory available on Poshmark is advertised to come from high-end designer labels that traditionally charge quite a lot, there is definitely room for worry as to whether or not all of the products are legit.

Thus, after a buyer makes a purchase, the money is essentially held in escrow until the buyer receives it from the seller and checks out the authenticity. On Amazon, funds can be deposited into the seller's account before the product has even arrived at the buyer's address. Poshmark's approach isn't fool-proof, but reps assured that they take each case of questioned authenticity and dissatisfaction with a sale seriously on an individual basis.

Currently, Poshmark is only supported on the iPhone and iPod touch (and by some extent the iPad, although there is currently not a fully optimized tablet version). However, Poshmark reps assured that an Android version is on the way, possibly as soon as the fourth quarter of 2012.

Image via Poshmark