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For many startups launching social or mobile apps, one of the biggest challenges is avoiding the “empty room” phenomena, where not enough users populate an app to make it worthwhile for others to join. Poshmark, the mobile clothing-swap app that came to the iPhone in December, now has the opposite problem: How do you make a site populated with thousands of items conducive to virtual window-shopping?
On Wednesday the company will announce updates to its Poshmark iPhone app and “Posh Parties,” a critical feature of the app that distinguishes it from other clothing resale apps like Threadflip, which provides a very similar service. The updates include curated lists of items picked by bloggers and easier ways of sorting and searching, in an attempt to keep Poshmark from devolving into the eBay or Etsy experience of search rather than browse.
“It’s a very scalable way to find products in the app,” explained CEO Manish Chandra. “When you get to 5 or 10 million items you can still participate, unlike something like eBay, which once it gets that big, it becomes basically search.”
Poshmark, which is a mobile-only product, allows users to take photos of clothing items from their closets, put a reasonable price on the item, provide details, and list it for potential buyers. Users can like and comment on other posts, and purchase items they like. Poshmark provides the shipping labels, tracks the packages, and facilitates payment, taking a 20 percent commission compared to Threadflip’s 15 percent. Chandra said the average user now spends 24 minutes per day on the app and opens it seven times per day.
What potentially distinguishes Poshmark are the Posh Parties, which are basically designated time periods during which shoppers can post and purchase items around particular designers or themes, like Marc Jacobs or stripes. The company says shoppers, who appear to be almost entirely women, now post between 13,000 and 15,000 items to the app during these virtual parties, although they noted the sell-through rate is only at 15 to 30 percent. The company is partnering with popular fashion bloggers like Ahn from 9to5Chic, who will curate their favorite items from the Posh Party posts, making it easier for customers to discover the best things. Users will also see new features, like the ability to show only new items in a Posh Party, eliminating previously listed ones from the feed.