Last week, on a hot and steamy evening, we hosted our Selling on Social Apps networking talk at co-working space Work.Life Camden.
Despite the heat outside, it was lovely and cool at Work.Life, and we were joined by our usual eclectic mix of Business Club Members*, fashion entrepreneurs and industry professionals.
Our speakers were Mitch Maynard, Senior Community Development Manager of Depop and James Symonds, Founder & Creative Director of streetwear label Bankside. I had the pleasure of chairing the talk, where the focus of the conversation was on how brands can now use social apps, such as Depop, to test the market, build a brand and increase sales.
When I asked Mitch how to describe Depop to those that may not have been aware of it, he said ‘ if you think of what a mash up of Ebay & Instagram would be – that’s Depop’. Depop has grown exponentially since launching in 2011 and now has over 10 million users, generating sales of around £250 million last year.
The platform has disrupted the online marketplace model by building a global community of buyers & sellers via it’s shoppable mobile app. There’s not even a transactional website! The sellers are a combination of individuals selling one off new or used items, vintage collectors & fashion brands. The costs to the seller for anything sold, is a flat 10% commission.
The key USP of the portal is that the community can see what their friends and influencers are liking, buying and selling, which has built an ecosystem supporting Depop ‘s continuing growing users without, to date, any advertising . At present around 65% of sales are UK based but a recent push in to the US is fuelling an increase in international sales. They also have a team of curators that help users discover new and exciting products on the platform.
When James launched Bankside in 2017 his focus was first to sell through his own platform. He soon came to realise driving traffic and making sales as a new brand was an uphill struggle, and going to take much longer than he thought.
He started to look for alternatives and began to sell on other marketplaces including Asos Marketplace and Depop. Their core users of creative 16 – 24 year olds were in line with his target market, and allowed him to reach a much larger audience and test new products quickly. He’s now one of Depop’s top UK sellers.
As James told us ‘ It’s now starting to go full circle. We were struggling to make sales on our website so started to sell on marketplaces which has transformed the business, but now the brand has built a following and loyal customer base, we plan to focus again on our own platform as we’re in a much stronger position. We’re likely to continue to sell some products on marketplaces, but ultimately the goal is for most sales to be made through our own platform.’
Consistency seemed to be the theme through the discussion – below are the key takeaways from our guest speakers.
James & Mitch’s Top Tips
Building a strong back story and brand identity is crucial in order to get noticed and start building followers. Think about the DNA & core values of the brand and ensure every touchpoint is consistent with this.
Good imagery consistent with your branding is essential – if you are on limited budget & can’t afford costly photographers & stylists, look for recent graduates that are keen to build an interesting portfolio. Instagram is a useful tool for searching and following potential collaborators. If they like your brand they are often willing to charge reduced fees.
It’s all about ‘newness’ and being seen when selling on a marketplace. To keep both the Depop curators and customers interested, it‘s best to regularly upload new products, rather than a large collection all at one time, which soon drops off the radar. Bankside release new designs every month.
You need a strong marketing strategy and to invest in advertising and/or engage with influencers, as just being on the market place and not pushing it, won’t work. Generate interesting content with your target audience in mind, and be consistent with your posting. It’s not just about selling your product, your building an aspirational lifestyle that your community must want to be part of. You can expect potential customers to ‘like’ several posts before they actually feel compelled to buy any product. Look at other brands you like and their feeds/vs customer engagement to get ideas of what works.
The evening was a great success and James and Mitch got to speak to many of the guests and answer their questions during the networking.
By Alison Lewy MBE
*Silver & Gold Business Club members can attend our networking events for free as part of their benefit package. For this, and many other benefits, just click Fashion Angel Business Club to join.