online shopping
Online auction marketplaces continue to draw consumer interest, and sites such as Poshmark, Vinted and IBuySell as well as e-consignment and thrift platforms such as ThredUp, are helping to drive sales in this segment as shoppers hunt for bargains. As a result, the compounded annual growth rate in the online auction marketplace is estimated at 7 percent through 2022, according to Technavio.
Here, Andrew Blachman, chief operating officer of Tophatter, which describes itself as a “mobile discovery shopping” site and app, discusses the marketplace, which offers jewelry, electronics, fashion, beauty products, home goods and hobby supplies. This week, the company launched a back-to-school online catalog.

WWD: What exactly is Tophatter?

Andrew Blachman: Tophatter is the world’s most entertaining, mobile shopping marketplace. We sell everything from health and beauty to clothes to gadgets to home decor — and we also sell seasonal products like back-to-school. We take the fun of discovery shopping — shopping as a pastime — and make it a mobile-first experience. Discovery shopping makes up about 50 percent of the retail market, but many brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to bring the experience online; that is where we come in.

WWD: Can you share some of the details and data about the app, and how it’s used?

A.B.: We currently have over 20 million shoppers, and sell over 100,000 items a day. People can shop in two ways: they can either find great deals in our traditional buying format, or they can compete in our 90-second auctions to try and score an even better price. Most of our auctions start at $1 and shoppers compete against one another live.

Tophatter launched in 2012 and we have about 80 employees based in our San Francisco and Shanghai offices.

WWD: What differentiates Tophatter?

A.B.: Discovery shopping is a huge and beloved category. Traditional discovery-focused brick-and-mortar stores, like TJ Maxx and Ross, are still growing in a time when malls are dying. However, shoppers are moving to mobile, and that is where the future of retail lies. We are meeting consumer demand for a mobile discovery shopping experience. Shoppers can have the treasure hunt feel that they love about discovery shopping, but they can do it wherever they are — waiting in line at the grocery store, hanging out at home, etc. It is a fun way to pass time and get great deals.

WWD: How does Tophatter work?

A.B.: We are a marketplace, like Amazon or eBay, so we are selling a wide array of products from different sellers around the world. We are committed to delivering great deals, and giving shoppers a fun experience. Whether participating in an auction or using our more traditional buy-now format, shoppers know they are saving money on fun products.

A lot of our shoppers use Tophatter to find gifts for friends and family. We sell a lot of cool and quirky items, so there are tons of great gift ideas, and with the money they save they can treat themselves to something, too.