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ThredUp - Thrifting Comes to eCommerce

Monday July 10, 2017 | By Ethan Morgan


Despite the fashion industry’s enthusiastic adoption of ecommerce, many customers still prefer the familiarity of a store environment.

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This applies across all fashion sectors – from higher-end brands to high street powerhouses and the burgeoning used clothing market.

But are these store shoppers finally changing their habits?

One retailer that suggests so is US-based ThredUp. The company has applied an online consignment business model to middle-tier fashion brands. ThredUp buys in large amounts of used clothing before reselling the stock on its website and soon, as it announced recently, in open brick and mortar stores.

ThredUp is essentially like a thrift store’s clothing racks, but with a slick online interface and powerful search. Its focus on quality brands attracts a certain demographic of buyer and being online removes much of the stigma associated with buying used clothing that might otherwise put people off.

Another factor helping drive sales is ThredUp’s application of customer analytics and personalisation. Its customer data enables the company to quickly tap into new trends. This echoes that of fast fashion darling Boohoo, which commissions small manufacturing runs to see what sells well before scaling up production quickly.

Form an orderly queue

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of ThredUp’s success is that there’s still space in ecommerce for new players of this type.

eBay has dominated second-hand clothing for over two decades, however niche applications and boutique online retailers are entering the fray en masse. Boot-sale apps (such as Shpock) are another example of how traditional retailing is being reinvented for millennial shoppers and the digital era.

The key lesson is to consider an omnichannel approach in everything you do. There will always be the shopper who enjoys sifting through a thrift store’s aisles for a hidden gem, though plenty of other people that desire the convenience, ease-of-use and familiarity of an online ecosystem that caters to them specifically.

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