Despite posting growth, Poshmark jangled some nerves during its last earnings call, as its first-quarter 2021 revenue guidance didn’t match what analysts wanted to see. Things largely leveled out, but now history looks like it’s repeating itself: Despite a first quarter that beat estimates, nervous investors seem to be doubting the platform once again.
On Wednesday, the social-selling marketplace reported $81 million in net revenue over the first three months of 2021, a 42 percent jump compared to the $57.1 million from the same quarter in 2020. The numbers topped the consensus estimate of $77.2 million, as well as the company’s own previous guidance for the quarter of $75.5 million to $77.5 million.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, at $4.2 million, shattered expectations of $1.6 million and blew away the first quarter of 2020, when it posted an $8.7 million EBITDA loss.
Yet in an overall down day on Wall Street, the market saw fit to send Poshmark’s shares down sharply, by as much as 11 percent in after-hours trading.
The reason, once again, comes down to the company issuing flat or even weaker guidance for second-quarter performance than it just reported, with revenue pegged between $79 million and $81 million.
The company’s net loss also widened in the first quarter, coming in at $74.5 million, or $1.19 a share, compared to $11 million, or 89 cents a share, year-over-year. Adjusted loss per share was 33 cents, versus the 42 cents analysts anticipated.
Cue worries over Poshmark’s growth slowing. But founder and chief executive officer Manish Chandra doesn’t seem fazed. Ever the cool, even-tempered executive, he explained to WWD that he’s looking at long-term growth, not whatever jitters pop up on Wall Street.
For instance, Chandra explained to WWD that the way the business was built helped it fend off a raft of issues, including delivery delays and extreme weather. “Our business is sort of built on the long-term growth of our cohorts and that continued to be very robust,” he said. And although it relies on sellers shipping items directly to customers, neither has the company seen delivery complications from the latest surges in gas prices.
As a social marketplace that connects buyers and sellers for secondhand and, increasingly, new products, Poshmark itself holds no inventory and doesn’t ship goods.
That’s a lean model, fleshed out mostly by Poshmark’s data-driven platform. The company’s tech orientation prioritizes ways to boost product discovery and identifying trends, sometimes before the rest of the fashion retail sector notices them. This “asset light” scenario, combined with its front-row view of shopping behavior, makes it nimble and allows it to respond quickly as things change.
And things are about to change a lot, according to Poshmark’s data.
The company tracked searches that, in March, showed massive appetite in certain key product categories. “Crop tops,” for instance, surged 101 percent and “jean shorts” jumped 85 percent.
“We also saw the early benefits that the marketplace is going to have as the world opens up, which is, I think, going to benefit the whole apparel sector, as people go out and experience the real world,” Chandra continued. “They’re going to buy more apparel and fashion as they need to wear new outfits, whether they’re going on weddings or vacations or dates.”
Indeed, this month, the Biden administration set a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by the July 4th holiday. At this level, it would be all but certain that many of the health restrictions in place now will be lifted. In many places, that’s already happening — and that bodes well for fashion businesses like Poshmark.
Consumers appear to be getting ready for it already. “We saw that trend happening on Poshmark, particularly honoring the new sort of direction that’s happening with the new silhouette of high-waisted, wide-leg jeans and also cropped tops,” added Chandra. “That’s all pointing to the fact that people are optimistic about the future and optimistic about the reopening.”
The conversation points to a foundational aspect of the company itself: Poshmark is as much a data and technology company as a fashion retail or resale platform. Chandra’s background includes familiar names, from Hearst Interactive Media and Kaboodle to Sybase and Intel, putting technology into the DNA of the business.
On the tech front, the company has been rather busy, with a full rollout of its listing videos, which integrate with its popular Posh Stories, and developed tools to help sellers scale up their business. One new feature, called Style Tags, lets sellers tag listings to boost their visibility.
The major benefit of Style Tags is that it also helps Poshmark flesh out its fashion taxonomy — a system of increasingly robust data labeling conventions that enable algorithms to dive in deeper into preferences, predictions and other, more nuanced insights, such as taste or aesthetic.
“Style tags can span things like boho or streetwear, but they can also have different materials or different perspectives,” added Chandra. Sellers can choose from a pre-populated set of tags or create their own. “We see that as an area that, combined with machine learning, can be a huge wave of innovation over the next year or two,” he said. Poshmark is also using real-time data to help sellers figure out things like pricing or how to adjust it over time.
The business continues to expand, the CEO pointed out, with growth in places like Australia and Canada, as well as new categories like pets.
It’s also not resting on its laurels. Chandra is eyeing emerging technologies as ways to expand on what he’s already built.
“When we think about NFT, we think about crypto, we think about augmented reality, I feel that each of them are starting to play a meaningful role. I’m super excited about all of the stuff that’s happening there. And feel we will have a role to play,” he said, before quickly adding, “Nothing to announce yet, nothing to talk about yet. But given that we are a social marketplace, and a technology-focused marketplace, we’re super excited.”
Only time can tell if investors will be, too.