MF 371 : Poshmark update: Today's Trends
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Today, I cover Today's Trends on Poshmark and speculate on the future of ecommerce and clothing. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Poshmark update: Today's Trends
For our final Poshmark update episode of the month, we're going to take a look at a more subtle feature that was added recently: Today's Trends.
Sometime last fall, I started noticing a new alert from the Poshmark app. I would see a popup like the one pictured above with the label "Today's Trends." This alert would lead users to items or brands that are trending on the app.
In addition, Poshmark added three prominent sections to its main feed.
Trending Brands: a curated list of items by specific brand that are overall popular and sell well.
Today's Trends: a list of items by brand or category type that are popular that day.
Trends for You: a curated list of items that are specific to a Poshmark user.
As Poshmark evolves, it is becoming more than simply a sales and marketing platform. It is growing into a learning platform. Last year, I covered "Style Tags," Poshmark's version of hashtags, in which sellers can tag listings with keywords based on brand, style, or color. In that episode, I theorized that Poshmark added these to enhance the searchability of listings. The idea is that with more data tags, the better its algorithm can show listings to users that are of interest. It's similar to the way newsfeeds, articles, and topics are shown to users on social media platforms.
I believe Poshmark's "trends" categories are the next step in data-driven targeting. As a prolific sales platform, it has millions of transactions along with views, click throughs, chat traffic and more. This data in turn can be honed to identify brands and items that are popular, which will enable it to better understand its users' (both buyer and seller) behavior.
What's next? Filling in the big gap
Let's take a moment to look at the big picture. One of the reasons why I believe Poshmark is a couple steps ahead of its larger ecommerce competitors is that it understands the nuances and challenges that come with selling clothes. Clothing and e-commerce are both a matchmade and a complicated relationship.
On the one hand, the idea of ordering your clothes online isn't new. People have been doing so for more than two-decades. Further, the last two years with the pandemic have hastened the fall of many traditional brick-and-mortar shops in favor of at-home-point-and-click buying. With certain goods, such as phones, computers, TVs, and even cars, we're witnessing exponential growth and consumer confidence with e-shopping.
However, clothing has one major quirk that other goods don't: a sizing problem. When you buy a phone or TV, size isn't a major issue. Most of the time you're not interested in the width of the phone and I guarantee you, if someone lists a phone for sale, most of the inquiries won't be about the dimensions. You can easily find that information with most products if it is an issue or consideration.
Clothing though is a completely different and messy story. As I learned from my dad who has been in the business for a long time, both from a design and operations standpoint, there's virtually no such thing as standard sizes. A small, medium, or large from one brand won't necessarily translate into the same thing with another. Complicating the matter, garment sizes within the same brand will vary depending on product line. As I've talked about on the mini-series, one of the best ways to stand out on Poshmark is to be over-communicative. If a potential buyer asks about size, provide measurements. If you can, add a size chart. We do this to give the buyer increased confidence that a garment will fit. This is a lot more intimate and personalized than buying a phone for example. If a person buys a phone, they're mostly interested in the make, model, features, and if it's used, operating condition. While sizes vary with smartphones, it's a secondary consideration at best. Clothes are a lot more complex and varied. Even if you use a company's size chart, there's no guarantee it will give you the exact specs of every garment from that same company. There will always be deviations from a "standard size chart," whether slightly larger or smaller.
Thus far, ecommerce solutions have been spotty at best in addressing this particular dilemma. Below are the current levels that platforms offer when it comes to informing customers of clothing size variance.
Level 1: Photos and text. This is universal amongst all ecommerce platforms, including Poshmark. A seller can and should use both of these tools to provide as much information as possible, including garment size and measurements.
Level 2: Video and stories. Poshmark upped the ecommerce game by introducing these two features. The ability to post 15-second stories allows sellers to highlight listings with video and / or additional photos. Early last year, Poshmark expanded its video capabilities to allow sellers to embed videos within listings themselves. Video gives buyers a better, more dimensional look at garments. Surprisingly, most of the larger ecommerce platforms have been slow to adopt similar advancements; opting to remain stuck with a level 1 strategy.
Level 3: Style Tags, My Shoppers, Today's Trends. Poshmark is moving several steps ahead of level 2 by enhancing a seller's ability to tag items, to curate listings, and communicate with potential buyers. Further, as noted, the platform is learning from its data; showcasing trend analyses to buyers and sellers.
All of these advancements are useful in bridging the gap between the size problem and online consumer confidence. Yet, none of them fully resolve it. We're not at the point where you'll know if an article you buy online will fit with 100% certainty.
Some innovative start-ups have tried to address this problem with unorthodox solutions.
The "buck shot" approach
One model allows buyers to buy in "bulk" or "gift box" format, picking and choosing several items and returning those they don't want to keep. This is what I call a "buckshot approach," in which a clothier gambles that out of many garments, a buyer will keep at least few. These companies will then charge for the retained garments while re-assorbing any returned items. They may also charge subscription fees to meet the overhead costs of logistics and shipping. The problem with this model is that it is wholly inefficient and impractical for most small businesses to adopt.
The user-provided approach
Other companies are trying to address the sizing problem head-on, by creating elaborate platforms, in which customers supply their measurements and the seller either curates items that will fit or employs a "print-on-demand" model to create fitted garments. While this solution gets us much closer to bridging the gap, it potentially puts a heavy burden on the buyer with increased risk of user error. Moreover, this solution is not yet practical or feasible for most small businesses.
So, what is the solution? How do we marry the benefits of e-commerce with the uncertainty of clothing and its non-uniform and chaotic sizing practices.
Metaverse fitting rooms?
We've a heard a lot about the so-called "metaverse" over the past few months. The basic idea is that technology is evolving to enable more more virtual reality-type interactions. Take the age-old conference call for instance. We went from voice calls to email to chat apps and now video conferencing. The next step in the "metaverse" would be virtual reality environments and avatars that closely simulate real-world meeting experiences.
Putting aside the many controversies and a minefield of privacy considerations for a minute, a metaverse application might provide a better solution for the clothing industries' ecommerce dilemma.
Imagine if an app on your phone or other device could accurately measure your form, right down to its unique curves and angles. Next, imagine that the sizing data is used to curate garments that will fit to a tee (or at least be slightly too large rather than slightly too small). Sizing would no longer be an online ordering question mark or a game of chance.
This is where I think we're headed should the metaverse come to fruition and prove to be more than a theoretical pipedream. Moreover, this "level 4" of customer engagement could be where Poshmark is headed down the road.
Tech tip: Kindle app
One of my favorite apps is the Kindle app, which turns your phone into a Kindle device. Moreover, you can check out ebooks from the library and send them to your Kindle app, which provides a great e-reader experience. If you do have a Kindle device, you can switch back and forth between it and your mobile, picking up where you left off within a book. For more on this, check out episodes 275 and 283.
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