Innovative Retailer – Depop

Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS Group

Name: Depop

The Place: On your smart phone via the Depop app, which has over six million registered users.

Sorry, how many? 6 million. I know. And it’s no slouch on Twitter either with 166,000 followers and a Facebook community with over 36,500 likes. But the app is where it’s really at.

The Story: Currently headquartered in London with offices in Milan and NYC employing 80 people, Depop is the brainchild of Simon Beckerman who co-founded PIG magazine in Italy in the early 2010s and initially envisioned Depop as simply a way for readers to buy the stuff they saw in the magazine. Plus he got lots of free stuff he wanted to offload and engage with the artistic community at the same time. Et voila.

Yes, but what exactly is it? It is a mobile-led, fashion-dominated marketplace which allows sellers to curate their own visually authentic shop.

Well, that’s all perfectly clear then: It’s like an eBay, which is channelling its inner Instagram.

For god’s sake, what? More personalised – the emphasis is much more on the personality of the buyers and sellers and the resulting community groups that form.

OK, this is all getting a bit floaty for me. Give me facts: Fine. 300,000 items are sold every month.

Feeling a bit better: There is 150% year-on-year growth.

Yup, that’s definitely better: What all this means basically is that it’s less carboot sale and more highly curated, beautifully photographed photo-shoot imagery. Visuals are all you see when you search – you have to click on the image to get the information on the seller, price, item etc.

Dare I ask how old these 6m+ registered users are? James Comyn, VP of product at Depop, points out that of course mobile first culture is not only for the young…

But…but 80% of users are between 16 and 22-years-of-age, and some of these people are racking up serious amounts of sales. Pocket money it ain’t. If they can effectively sell their personality and lifestyle blog on Depop then they’ve got it made. As Comyns puts it: “We’ve created platforms for taste to take over lives.”

Crikey. Do you mean some 16 year old can run a business on Depop: I mean exactly that. And that is increasingly the case. Social media profile is king and a savvy teen can curate that in their sleep so what starts off as a bit of fun to sell off their old T-shirts can quickly morph into a lucrative line in vintage T-shirt collection and rapid sell-on. Items sell over and over again in quick succession as users are always after the next sartorial experience but it is also sustainable as there is no new consumption – most items are second hand.

Not about retail companies – all about people: Now you’re getting it. Build up a fan base and a following, find the merchandise, shoot yourself wearing it, post and sell. Sweat your assets.

I’ll try: Crucially, unlike some sharing economy sites like AirBnB, the community of users is not divided into buyers and sellers. Most Depoppers will do both, creating a viral loop of activity, which users can follow. In classic social media style, you can just like an item, you don’t have to buy it, commenting is enough. And you can see the ‘likes’ of someone you follow so everyone knows what everyone else likes. Kind of.

Did you just make Depoppers up? Yes.

So, does it work exactly the same wherever you are? Well, the ranges vary slightly. In Italy for example the focus is slightly broader – encouraged in order to get it to grow but in general it is footwear and clothes, which are easier to ship and remain the most popularly posted items. In the US users can get proper shipping labels – this will come to the UK in due course.

And I don’t suppose they need to do any marketing: You are so right. According to Comyn growth was explosive in 2014-15 and referrals are all via social media channels. Employing people to do marketing – excuse me while I choke.

Excused. And what’s next for Depop? There is a move to focus on the top rated users – 20% of the user base is responsible for 80% of the activity and that is regardless of whether they are primarily buyers or sellers. And of course, there has been a lot of interest in the site from brands.

Well, I did wonder: ASOS used the site because it is so good for social media and lots of other companies are kind of trying to get their heads around how to use it because they see that the young are less open to mass marketing.

What are they open to? Influencers. Influencers and more influencers. And that is what Depop caters in morning, noon and night. In fact that brings me neatly to…

Yes? #DepopFamous. Someone not particularly in the public eye can still be a global influencer and brands will break down doors to get to them via Depop.

Let’s talk money: Depop takes 10% commission from sellers on the combined item and shipping price, which Comyn believes makes the process more transparent for the buyers.

I suppose the final question has to be if most people on it are so young… what happens as these users get older? Depop is very relaxed about this actually. It doesn’t expect people to stay with the site as their interests and ways of consumption changes. But having said that…Comyn says he does not differentiate between 16 and 60 year old users and that once you have found your niche community on Depop, whether it be knitted cardigans or vintage trainers, then it’s pretty hard to leave.

You know, I might try to sell my collection of seasonal onesies: My friend, I can tell you now – that is a community of one.

Oh.

PCMS is a global provider of IT software and services for the retail industry. PCMS offers a full-range of integrated commerce solutions across selling touch points and also provides turnkey managed services and cloud hosting. Its client list includes John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Whole Foods, as well as Walgreens in the US and fashion brands including Prada and Ferragamo across Europe

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