After seven attempts to input his credit card information earlier in the day to buy an item from the streetwear label’s collaboration with Dr. Martens, the collection sold out.
“We have tons of Supreme [on Poshmark] so I can buy it on our site. I just want to be able to buy one item directly from Supreme,” Chandra said. “Their app is the weirdest app. It has one screen. It says ‘Supreme collection is sold out. Please enter your e-mail and we’ll notify you.’ That’s it. And when the collection goes live they just put a micro web site in it. It’s a cult brand and there’s so much to learn when you look at an innovation like that. They’ve got the pulse on the consumer.”
Supreme presents an interesting study for Poshmark, which Chandra founded in 2011, especially as it looks to grow scale, while still retaining its identity as a community selling place. The company today launched its latest feature, the Posh Dressing Room, which allows its Seller Stylists, or sellers, to provide one-on-one styling advice. It’s akin to curated suggestions a boutique owner might pull for a customer in a physical store. It’s something sellers have already been doing, but this streamlines the process.
There are other tactics the company’s trying as well, some of which will be announced at a later date. Plans also call for the rollout of an international Seller Stylist network next year.
“By combining all these things, what we’ve done is we’ve really changed the entire metaphor of what a fashion store looks like. It’s like finding eBay and Nordstrom Rack in the same store,” Chandra said. “It’s very similar to what you would get at a physical boutique, which is shutting down, or what you would have gotten at Macy’s 20 years ago and today those experiences are shutting down because nobody can afford to provide that kind of staffing.”
It’s difficult to gauge the size of Poshmark’s business. The privately held company doesn’t disclose financial information. It last reported in the spring of 2015 it reached a run rate of $200 million in annual sales. Chandra claimed if the company was viewed as a retail chain Poshmark would likely rank in the top 100 or top 50, depending on what numbers are being used. Investors have funneled $65.5 million into the Redwood City, Calif.-based company to date.
About a year ago the company rolled out boutiques — of which there are more than 100,000 — as a place to sell items from new and emerging designers.
Chandra spoke with WWD while in Los Angeles recently for a Posh Party, a gathering held two to three times a month throughout the U.S. for buyers and sellers to connect in real life. The chief executive officer said he tries to attend every one of these events to keep in step with customers and also talks to between 100 and 150 users daily.
The point of the parties isn’t so much to buy and sell — in fact when the company tried that, Chandra said, the clothes just got in the way — as much as it is about engagement and getting people to know one another.
The new Dressing Room feature and the Posh Parties are all attempts at merging the digital brand with activities that have traditionally existed in the physical world, begging the question of whether Poshmark envisions bricks-and-mortar in the future.
“What we have talked about is creating a Posh store of the future,” the ceo said. “We’re talking to certain mall developers so I don’t know what timeline we have, but that will be really where we’ll be able to bring all the Seller Stylists into a new kind of shopping experience and I really do believe that omnichannel is the future.”
Chandra pointed to Apple as an example of a company doing that well, but given Poshmark’s roughly 25 million stockkeeping units on its platform at any one time, physical retail can’t be approached in the traditional sense. Typical stores, Chandra said, can overwhelm with too much inventory and induce boredom when the inventory isn’t changed out often enough.
“If you look at our phone, what are the apps that we are drawn toward? They’re mostly social apps,” he said. “The reason they’re social apps is because they’re constantly changing. You can check your Snapchat now and you can check your Snapchat in an hour, two hours and there’s something new there.”
Thus Poshmark’s store of the future could be a place where some inventory is more fixed and other pieces are constantly changing with new Seller Stylists there daily.
“As you look at where we were in patterns of consumption, the distinction between a consumer and a producer is blurring. It starts with media where I’m both the producer and consumer of media. Then it goes to cars, hotels and very much applies to clothing and beauty,” Chandra said. “The same can be said for fast fashion as a category or recycled fashion as a category. What we are showing is, no, there are no categories. They are out of the same store and discount fashion and full-priced fashion is bulls–t. Fast fashion and slow fashion’s bulls–t. It’s the same platform and so high-low is going away and when you start to remove these [labels] it’s very confounding to people.”
Chandra finds himself looping back to Supreme once again to solidify his point that categories, channels, buyers and sellers are at a point of convergence.
“Every Supreme drop is an evolution of the Supreme brand,” he said. “Sometimes it’s with artists. Sometimes it’s with a record company. Sometimes it’s with a super star. Sometimes it’s with The North Face. Supreme is not a brand; it’s a platform and despite probably one of the worst e-commerce presences, every drop sells out. So you don’t need to be very omnichannel savvy. You need to be consumer savvy.”
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