Poshmark leans on celebrity partnerships for customer acquisition

Resale comes with a host of challenges and advantages that make it unique when compared to traditional retail. To overcome one challenge — acquiring new customers with less control over inventory than traditional designers — resale platform Poshmark launched a new partnership with tennis superstar Serena Williams this week. The goal: to bring in new customers and keep the ones the company already has coming back for more.

The partnership is not a simple paid endorsement or marketing campaign. Instead, Williams was appointed to the company’s board of directors on Wednesday. In step with the announcement, products from Williams’ personal closet hit Poshmark’s site, granting customers the opportunity to purchase them. All proceeds from the sale of her personal items will go to the Yetunde Price Resource Center, a foundation providing aid to people who have been victims of violence. Poshmark teased that, in addition, Williams will soon sell clothes from her daughter Olympia’s closet through the retailer’s children’s section.

Starting on Wednesday, Poshmark promoted the collection on its social media channels through photos and also a video interview between Williams and Poshmark’s CEO Manish Chandra.

Chandra said allowing customers to shop directly from a popular celebrity’s closet provides an intimacy that is impossible to get from traditional retail.

“We are really focused on creating meaningful human connections and engagement between the platform and the customers,” said Chandra. “[Our] combination of social and commerce allows sellers to connect directly with their customers in ways that aren’t possible in a traditional retail model.”

Poshmark encourages its sellers to put their personalities on display on their seller pages, encouraging a social interaction between the customer and the seller. Williams has taken this advice with her own “Meet the Seller” section on her Poshmark page.

Resellers like Poshmark are in a unique position, compared to traditional retailers and brands. For one, they can’t build marketing campaigns around new product drops or unique collections to stand out from competitors; they are at the mercy of whatever product is sold to them to make up their inventory.

However, there are advantages to their business model. Because they do not have to worry about designing and producing products, resellers can focus their energy on the customer, customer experience and customer acquisition. In May 2018, the company reported it had paid out more than $1 billion to those who had sold on the platform. (Poshmark gets a 20 percent cut of each sale of $15 or more, or $2.95 for cheaper items.)

“Seventy-eight percent of purchases on Poshmark involve a social transaction,” Chandra said. “We see shoppers coming back to the same closet time and time again, because they’ve had an enjoyable interaction and connection with the seller.”

Celebrity partnerships are a good way for these resellers to keep things exciting in terms of their inventory. A dress from Gucci could theoretically be purchased from a number of different resellers, but a Gucci dress from Serena Williams’ personal closet is going to be a lot more desirable to some customers.

Despite the fact that only 10 percent of luxury customers are active in resale, the total luxury resale market is still valued at $25 billion. Resellers are looking to increase the number of sellers, which is in turn expected to increase the number of buyers. A partnership between a celebrity seller and Poshmark is one means of attracting sellers. 

In the past, Poshmark has partnered on charity closet sales with celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, DJ Khaled, Rachael Ray and Patrick Willis. Going forward, Chandra said the company will continue relying on the celebrity partnership model.

“In terms of our Posh Closets for Charity program, we created it to offer celebrities the opportunity to give back, while also allowing the Poshmark community to shop directly from icons they admire to support a great cause,” Chandra said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with celebrities for a good cause in the future”

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