At SuperPosher, understanding how Poshmark grows their number of sellers is important for us so we can understand:
- what goes into making Poshmark a healthy platform for sellers
- what needs sellers might have in order to get to the next step of growth
- ways we can grow as sellers grow
Here we've shared some early thoughts we've had on Poshmark's seller growth loop.
It all starts with sharing on Poshmark
When a seller signs up on Poshmark's selling platform and lists an item to sell, they have the option to use Poshmark's share feature.
Earlier, we've gone over how to share on Poshmark. As a quick recap, sharing a listing on Poshmark has the very unique side effect of showing the listing on the top of the feed for buyers in a handful of contexts, including item search and followers of the seller.
This is a great deal for sellers because sharing on Poshmark has a similar effect to buying promoted listings (effectively ads) on similar e-commerce platforms, such as eBay. Since the top of the feed is great real estate for a listing on any e-commerce platform AND sharing is free on Poshmark, there's a natural incentive for Poshmark sellers to share repeatedly and share often.
Once this clicks in a seller's brain, it's a no-brainer to try out selling on Poshmark. This is why Poshmark invests heavily in quickly teaching sellers of all sizes that sharing listings is the key to growing their business.
Above we've taken this brilliant mechanic and followed its natural progression as a loop. Here's what going on:
- A Poshmark seller signup leads to more listing sharing. If the seller isn't referred, this is triggered by Poshmark's investments in new-seller education.
- Sharing a listing leads to faster views on that listing. This is because Poshmark injects shared listings to the top of the feed for buyers on high-traffic pages, like search and home.
- A view on a listing leads to faster listing sales. Poshmark buyers are conditioned to window-shop for great items and deals, so their primary way of discovering new items to buy is heavily influenced by what sellers are sharing. This conditioned behavior counts on there existing a diversity of products and sufficient contextual relevancy between what a buyer expects to see and what is actually shown.
- Faster listing sales leads to more seller signups. Poshmark sellers as a community love sharing what they've learned with the community through blog posts, YouTube, and more.
Creating new user behavior from scratch
A cursory look at the growth loop above reveals there's a bit of brittleness to the loop when a Poshmark seller is not referred from a friend or an authoritative source. There's definitely a bit of friction. How Poshmark shares work to a seller that doesn't know about them isn't immediately obvious, since it's a concept that's foreign to most sellers that have experience on other platform or at least have heard about how e-commerce generally works.
This is why Poshmark invests so heavily in new-seller education. Here are two smart ways they've invested in themselves:
- Poshmark has a new seller guide where they bootstrap teaching sellers that don't know much about the platform how they should act on the platform to drive sales. This is pretty smart because each one of the entries in this new seller guide ranks pretty highly. It turns out that when new Poshmark sellers are confused, they start turning to Google to get their questions answered and Poshmark's domain authority on everything Poshmark helps keep sellers engaged when they're the most confused.
- Poshmark has a program for top active sellers named Posh Ambassadors, where they recommend these sellers as sellers to follow for new users. At SuperPosher we like to think of the Posh Ambassador program as having an effect similar to the concept of a model citizen, where sellers can get ideas on what works on the platform by referencing the setups of sellers that Poshmark has labelled as successful.
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Bad actors and sharing monopolies: a risk to the growth loop
What happens to the growth loop when there are too many shares made by a single actor? Is the growth loop resilient to bad behavior, or is Poshmark's seller experience at risk of being hijacked?
It turns out the seller experience sours when friendly and healthy sharing competition turns monopolistic. It's worth thinking about it with an example. Here's what happens when there are too many shares done by a single seller:
- Other sellers experience a sharp decrease in sales, because their listings are not getting even exposure compared to the listings of the bad actor. This has a direct negative impact on the growth loop by impacting word of mouth through great seller experience, which is what gets us from faster listing sales to more seller signups.
- If there's a lack of diversity in product in the seller's closet, buyers may experience fatigue despite potential initial interest after seeing the same types of items over and over again. We've seen similar behavior from the ad industry, where certain ad formats and ad trends have fatigued ad viewers and destroyed conversion rates. This has a direct negative impact on the growth loop by driving away buyers, which is what gets us from faster views on listings to faster listing sales.
Poshmark knows this and has chosen to respond by regulating activity on their own platform. They penalize sellers that go over a certain amount of shares in a short period of time. This has come to be known by sellers as Poshmark's share jail. This simple set of rules limits the impact a single seller can have on the overall number of shares on the platform, which protects it from attacks made by a single bad actor.