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Peer-to-peer shopping apps: Which one will survive?

s mobile applications have emerged enabling users to buy and sell fashions, but not all are likely to survive. 

Until Instagram ultimately took center stage in the photo-editing category, numerous apps competed for consumer attention in app stores. A similar whittling down of offerings could be imminent in the “sell fashion” category, where there are currently more than 50 offerings, including Poshmark, Vinted, closetremix, Bib + Tuck and Threadflip.

“Good branding that will resonate with the target audience is very important,” said Danika Daly, CEO and president of Danika Daly Public Relations, New York. “If the app maintains a certain aesthetic, users will take nicer product photos to match up to the other photos on the app.

“If the design of the app isn’t the greatest, it will attract cruddy photos. When it comes to fashion and clothing, they should be highlighted in the best ways possible.

“Threadflip, Material Wrld and Bib + Tuck do a great job at maintaining good visuals, even by their users. Out of the clothing selling apps currently out there, Bib + Tuck has the staying power, because it has a nice interface, it’s user-friendly, the branding is impeccable, and you can also trade items with other users without cash.”

Features to adopt
Social has become a centerpiece in these apps, creating a friendly experience and being given the ability to discuss the product directly with interested shoppers, which can encourage a sale.

It is believed that a higher level of interaction will lead a user to more sales.

“Social is incredibly necessary when using clothing selling apps,” Ms. Daly said. “When I post items and have a low level of interaction, I don’t sell anything.

“However, when I like outfits, comment on other posts, re-share my item, and follow users, my closet experiences a selling spree. If someone inquires about an item in a seller’s closet, it’s very important to reply and give as much information as possible. This leads to more sales for the seller.”

While social is a key component to these apps, each is fairly similar to one another and mostly maintains the same types of features, such as the ability to favorite items, comment on product images and search certain brands.

Vinted allows its users to trade items with its swap feature. Users can list an item and make it available for selling and/or swapping.

Marketing a product
Perhaps a styling feature, which would allow for customer feedback and inquiries, could give these apps an extra push. This implementation would give the seller more of an opportunity to market the item by making suggestions on how to wear it.

“The ability to get feedback on clothing items while shopping on an app would be effective because one often thinks, ‘I love this, but how would I wear it?’ Ms. Daly said. “To be able to shop through an app and be styled by the app’s community would be the ultimate experience.

“How an item can fit into my closet is a determining factor on whether or not I make the purchase.”

Poshmark has developed learning tool PoshMatch to suggest items based on prior searches and click-throughs.

For example, if users click through Chanel handbags, the tool is used to point out closets that it thinks users will also like.

“We believe that the future of shopping will be built around social networks that foster relationships beyond buying and selling,” said Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of Poshmark, San Francisco. “Poshmark’s PoshMatch harnesses the power of the network’s social activity to bring offline discovery into the online shopping world.

“While other companies are trying to add shopping on top of their social platforms and vice versa, Poshmark has built a social commerce engine organically from the beginning.”

Poshmark claims that its average user is accessing the app seven to eight times per day and spending about 20 to 25 minutes in the app each day.

“Poshmark is definitely the leading contender with a growing user base and impressive inventory,” said Brittany Mills, director of digital marketing services at Mobiquity, New York. “I think the app that will stand the test of time is one that takes their usage guidelines and buyer protection promise seriously.

“The quickest turn-off for a shopper is to use an app and have one bad experience with a product or buyer or seller. It is the app’s responsibility to make sure the quality of the product is accurately represented and the users are there for the right reason.

“All apps have the same type of inventory, it is the experience that differentiates one from the other.”

Ultimately, ease of use ranks as a top necessary quality for any mobile app, including these social shopping apps. If an app is confusing or seems inaccessible to users, it is unlikely that they will stick around.

“An easy-to-use interface is also very important,” Ms. Daly said. “If a user has issues figuring out how to access their digital closet, how to sell and communicate, it can turn them away from using the app, and will lead them to post on another.

“Poshmark and Bib + Tuck are very easy to use.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York