Retailers   //   April 29, 2020

Why Poshmark is launching a TikTok-like Stories feature

Poshmark is about to look a lot more like TikTok.

Starting this week, the resale company is launching a new feature called “Posh Stories.” With a sales slump last month — in line with the rise of coronavirus — this marks a new attempt for the company to garner social media-like engagement to its app and regain momentum.  

The new feature will appear at the top of users’ feed, showcasing brands and closets they follow in a vertical slideshow, which disappears after 48 hours. By clicking on a tagged item, you’re directly taken to that seller’s closet to purchase or make them an offer. Stories takes a page from mainstream social networks like Instagram and Snapchat, differentiating Poshmark interface from its competitors’, to encourage organic engagement among users.

Resale platforms like Poshmark said they saw an initial decline when the coronavirus pandemic hit. While Poshmark said sales have returned, this new feature shows the company trying to differentiate itself from competitors by mimicking social media giants.

Poshmark currently has 60 million registered users, and claims to have over 100 million items for sale on the site, with “a sale made nearly every second,” said CEO Manish Chandra. According to the company, 88% of Poshmark’s daily shoppers are repeat buyers who spend “on average 23 to 27 minutes per day” on the app (opening it seven to eight times). With a built-in community of merchants, Poshmark hopes Posh Stories, its version of the short video format, can do for its platform what social shopping has achieved in China.

Manish described Stories’ as a feature meant to appeal to non-power users — compared to creating traditional Poshmark listings. For those who use the marketplace to casually sell closet items, the lowered barrier to entry “makes for a potentially seamless transaction,” Chandra explained.

Resale platforms initially struggled when the coronavirus arrived, despite March being a typically major sales month thanks to spring cleaning. Like Thredup and Fashionphile, Chandra confirmed Poshmark’s sales dipped in mid-March. The CEO added the company has rebounded since, with peer-to-peer selling becoming “a way for some to earn extra cash during this difficult time.”

Following the announcement at last year’s PoshFest conference, the company fast-tracked the Stories rollout after noticing an activity spike from users selling unwanted goods for cash when the national unemployment rate started to rise. 

For Poshmark, the addition of video is important. Chandra described the Stories feature as a way for users to market unsold listings, as well as a new vehicle for users to showcase and model items. Hanna Samad, digital strategy manager at RPA, agreed, explaining that online retailing requires “setting and meeting expectations of the final product,” making video a great way to instill confidence of fit and texture ahead of the purchase.

She also noted that “Poshmark’s follower model means their sellers are also influencers, so highlighting daily closet content is a win-win,” for both keeping buyers engaged and giving sellers more exposure.

With Instagram trying to become a stronger e-commerce platform, and Tik Tok being increasingly tested by major retailers, this shows Poshmark trying to boost its credibility as a social shopping company. However, Tik Tok’s slow venture into e-commerce has resulted in brands, including Old Navy to Walmart, still largely considering it a brand awareness-driver among young consumers.

Forrester principal analyst Sucharita Kodali said the rollout makes sense; shoppable videos have proven popular among China’s consumers, yet have remained underutilized on U.S. platforms.

“Good for Poshmark for being one of the early adopters on this,” Kodali said, describing it as “a natural fit” for Poshmark’s user base to actually engage with. Not to mention, it’s “much more cost-effective than creating professional shoppable content,” she said. Competitors, like Mercari and Tradesy, have yet to dabble with such social features. 

“We feel short video form lends itself to the platform’s foundation, which is peer to peer based e-commerce,” Chandra said. “It’s where the industry has been going for a while.”