Thoughts on Poshmark, Web3 platforms

By Marcin
July 9, 2019
4 min read

Poshmark is an online marketplace that merges social media and e-commerce to create a unique hybrid social-shopping experience for users.

In this post, I'll dive a bit deeper into the platform and look at some ways in which social media features have been incorporated into Poshmark's UX, as well as some initial ethical implications of monetizing social media-like behaviors in such a direct manner.

Marketplaces and Social Media: Analyzing their Integration

Adding a social media layer to the marketplace seems like a logical next step given the preoccupation that their primary audience has with social media. These features not only enhance the user experience but also drive revenue for the users. By closely analyzing Poshmark, we can see how the merge of marketplaces and social media can create a mutually beneficial relationship.

  1. Poshmark encourages sellers to share their listings on their social media accounts, and this in turn helps increase visibility of listings. That is, they track clicks and purchases and reward the seller by surfacing their collections to more buyers on Poshmark itself.
  2. The "Party" feature. Parties are virtual buying events on the platform. Sellers host their own parties and by doing so, their items are more likely to be surfaced to buyers.
  3. "Poshmark Closet" allows sellers to create a curated storefront on the platform. Sellers can then share their Closet on social media and with friends, which can increase their visibility and sales.
  4. The "Bundle" feature allows sellers to group multiple items together and sell them as a package deal. When a seller reaches certain milestones for bundle sales, they become eligible for special rewards. They're also another method by which sellers can surface their products on the platform.
  5. Borrowed directly from social media, Poshmark rewards sellers for building a strong following. The more followers a seller has, the more likely their items are surfaced. Sellers can also earn rewards for reaching certain follower milestones.

Ethical Implications of Monetizing Social Media-Like Behaviors in eCommerce

The combination of designing for addiction (see: Nir Eyal) with monetizable on-site social media type behaviors make for some ethical concerns (see: Tristan Harris, Chamath Palihapitiya, Jaron Lanier). Poshmark binds "liking and sharing" to revenue generation for the user, more tightly than say, influencer marketing and embedded advertisements.

One metaphor to use here might be "income streaming" applied to engagement metrics, except for the important fact that there is no direct correlation between high engagement and high sales. High engagement only means greater exposure.

While Poshmark's approach may be innovative, it's hard to overstate the implications of the business on users. Keep in mind while reading the following bullets that all this is done in order to design a new business model, and that the user problem of "selling used clothing" already has numerous solutions.

  • The use of principles in behavioral psychology such as Variable Rewards and Social Proof keep users engaged.
  • This is combined with incentivizing user engagement through increased exposure. There's no translation of "advertisement minutes watched" into dollars earned. Your social media-like activity on the platform translates to more platform visibility, and this may translate to increased sales.
  • Ultimately, they have turned what's been called "vanity metrics" into a revenue stream by linking them to sales for users. This means users aren't just competing on sales, but also on social media engagement metrics... which means spending more time on Poshmark.
  • Poshmarks's revenue increases statistically as more users buy and sell, while individual users are left playing social media games to increase their visibility.

New UX Patterns and Business Models, Web3 & Crypto

I am interested in the resulting UX patterns emerging from Poshmark, but also more broadly from the Web3 space.

The rise of crypto-based platforms such as Odysee, Relevant Community, and Minds is proof that the technology industry is constantly evolving and finding new ways to monetize and incentivize user engagement. Poshmark's incorporation of social media into its marketplace is a prime example of how these new design patterns can be implemented. But we want to see these adversarial boundaries between platform and user blurred by web3 technology rather than exhausted by it. I think this can be addressed in a few ways

  • Involving users in the development process
  • Revenue sharing models
  • Decentralized ownership or management structures
  • Transparency in practices

The future holds endless possibilities for how these concepts will continue to shape the way we interact with technology and each other. It's an exciting time to be a part of this industry, and I can't wait to see what comes next.


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