Poshmark is rolling out a skill for Alexa devices that lets consumers ask the voice-activated speakers for styling advice, the consignment marketplace announced today.
Alexa is the digital assistant software that runs on Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo, Dot and Tap speakers.
Poshmark is an online-only, peer-to-peer shopping marketplace with 25 million SKUs of apparel and accessories. Poshmark also has millions of monthly active users and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual gross merchandise value, CEO and co-founder Manish Chandra tells Internet Retailer.
The marketplace has 3 million sellers. Shoppers pay in the app, and Poshmark takes a 20% cut of all sales, which is the only way the marketplace generates revenue, Chandra says.
Here’s how the new voice styling tool works: A consumer connects her Poshmark and Amazon accounts by enabling the Poshmark skill in the settings in the Alexa app. A consumer must have the Poshmark app for the skill to work correctly. A shopper says to her Alexa-enabled device, “Alexa, ask Poshmark to style me.” Alexa will respond with nine themes the consumer can choose including: date night, fall trends, casual weekend, athleisure, brunch with friends, girls’ night out, day at the office, cozy staples and cocktail party. A shopper then responds with the theme she wants.
Poshmark’s algorithm will analyze the shopper’s style and size based on previous purchases, and match the customer with six sellers on Poshmark that have appropriate inventory for that theme and the shopper’s style and size. The sellers will then create an outfit for the shopper and place the apparel items into the shoppers “dressing room” in the Poshmark app.
There is no time deadline for the sellers to create a dressing room, however, it typically takes between 10-30 minutes for the seller to create an outfit, Chandra says. Sellers evaluate the shopper’s previous purchases and types of sellers she follows on the app, and then they select pieces they think she would like.
The shopper can then open the Poshmark app, view the six different dressing rooms the sellers created for her and buy what she likes via the Poshmark app.
Shoppers also can ask to be styled for one of the nine themes in the Poshmark app, and Poshmark will automatically send the request to sellers that meet her style. Previously, a shopper would have to visit a specific seller’s page and make the styling request. Shoppers also may ask to be styled in a certain theme in the Alexa app, instead of talking to an Alexa-powered speaker.
Poshmark tested the styling skill for about a month with a select number of consumers, and during that time the marketplace received more than 1 million styling requests between the Alexa devices and the Poshmark app. Chandra declined to say how many consumers participated in the beta group or reveal more details.
“Our test showed a massive demand for it and conversion is pretty good,” he says.
It took about a year and a half to build the Alexa skill, Chandra says. The challenging part of building an Alexa skill is not the front-end coding for voice activation, but rather the back-end coding that allows the code to access and pull in the correct information from Poshmark’s customer relationship management system, Chandra says.
Poshmark wants to add more styling themes, but first it will evaluate how consumers use this voice styling skill. Chandra says he should have a better idea of shopper behavior in six to nine months.
Voice offers new ways for customers to interact with devices and the brand. “For us it comes very natural,” Chandra says.
He is open to building new skills and possibly integrating with Amazon’s styling assistant Echo Look device. Creating a skill with Amazon makes sense, Chandra says, because both Amazon and Poshmark appeal to a wide demographic.
In conjunction with the new skill release, Poshmark announced an $87.5 million round of funding led by Singapore-based investment firm Temasek and supported by the marketplace’s previous investors: Mayfield, Menlo Ventures, GGV Capital, Inventus Capital, SoftTech VC, Union Grove Venture Partners and Cross Creek Advisors.
Poshmark plans to use the investment to continue developing its back-end technology; expand more into beauty and men’s and kids products; and to expand internationally in 2018, Chandra says. In total, Poshmark has raised $160 million.