A large and growing e-commerce trend falls in the category of social selling, or peer-to-peer marketplaces: Some observers expect the marketplace economy to more than double to $40 billion by 2022. It’s spawning a variety of interesting startups that are catching the eyes of investors as they position themselves to play a role.
“It’s proving to be a fascinating evolution,” says Patrick Mackaronis, who founded one of those platforms – Brabble. Brabble is a social media community with an interesting tech feature, and is one of various spins on the social marketplace concept that is taking the old classified advertising model in new directions.
“There’s a lot of creativity going into these platforms, and they’re taking the social garage sale concept to new levels around the world,” Patrick Mackaronis adds.
Four of the startups grabbing investor attention include:
· Poshmark. Founded in 2011, this e-commerce fashion retailer/social media site is a marketplace where women can buy and sell new or lightly used clothes (via apps and a website). Social engagement is its secret sauce – more than 3 million items being sold are shared and re-shared across the platform daily. Buyers and sellers alike gain followers, and users curate their feeds according to their own styles. Poshmark also has created opportunities for independent retailers to sell through the platform. Late last year, Poshmark received another round of VC funding for $25 million, led by GGV Capital.
· Brabble. Similar to Poshmark, Brabble is a social platform with 300,000 users that enables connected people to share and interact, but also buy and sell in a comfortable environment. An important part of Brabble’s technology is its patented *Star Tags that enhance online sales and track customer data. *Star Tags are programmable links that can be placed within social media networks (not just Brabble), websites and other marketplaces. They can stay native to a post and be shared infinitely. In May, Brabble entered into a cap raise of $5 million through family office investors, high net worth individuals and a Wall Street investment bank.
· Bump. Founded late last year in the U.K. (with 45% of its users in the U.S.), Bump is a peer-to-peer take on a streetwear marketplace. In less than a year, it’s already accumulated over 200,000 users buying and selling limited edition streetwear from such brands as Supreme and Kith. Like other social selling communities, users can follow specific sellers and “like” items, and a messaging feature facilitates negotiating back and forth between buyers and sellers. And for “policing” purposes, it uniquely uses moderators (who are streetwear experts) and crowdsourcing to report and block fake listings. Bump has received $120,000 in seed funding so far.
· Meesho. Launched in 2016 out of India, this social selling startup is designed to make it easy for sellers – comprised of housewives, students, and retirees – to start selling online, including drop shipments from its wholesale partners (now mainly with fashion and lifestyle items), and tools to easily manage purchases and process payments. This means anyone who wants to start reselling online (Meesho is designed to make it easier to sell on Facebook and WhatsApp) needs to do is acquire customers, choose they want to sell and market them. The company notes that social commerce is a major trend in India, and platforms like this are enabling numerous entrepreneurial resellers – more than 800,000 to date. Meesho recently received another round of funding, an $11.5 million Series B led by Sequoia India, added to a $3.4 million Series A funding last October.
“It’s a fascinating time for peer-to-peer selling concepts,” Brabble’s Patrick Mackaronis adds. “The end result is a reinvention of the entire e-commerce realm. It will be interesting to see who emerges as winners and losers over time.”