Selling used clothing can be a challenge, especially if you want to make more than a few bucks and do so with a minimum of fuss. That’s what San Francisco-based startup Threadflip, which is publicly launching its site today, is aiming to provide users, and its founders thinks people will respond to an outlet that’ll help them turn clothing they no longer use into a payday in fewer steps, and for a better rate than the local consignment shop. In addition to the launch, the company is announcing a $1.6 million seed funding round, led by First Round Capital and Baseline Ventures, which also includes Path founder Dave Morin, Forerunner Ventures, Greylock Discovery Fund and Andreessen Horowitz.
“The consignment shops we’ve talked to in San Francisco charge upwards of 65 percent, sometimes 70 percent to sell goods,” Threadflip CEO Manik Singh told BetaKit in an interview. “We charge a 15 percent fee to sellers, which includes transaction fees and everything. If my wife puts up a jacket for $100, once the jacket sells she gets $85.” The money is then put into a user’s Threadflip account, where they can use it to buy other items listed on the site, or opt to cash out.
In addition to a better monetary value proposition, Singh also points out that Threadflip makes the process much easier than selling via either brick-and-mortar consignment or traditional online resales sites like eBay or Craigslist. “A woman uploads an item listing with photos, and when an item sells, we send the seller a box that includes a hang tag, wrapping materials and everything they need to ship,” he said. One place where established sites like eBay might have an advantage is in terms of reaching a wider audience, but Singh says that Threadflip includes social sharing options like Facebook and Twitter integration to help sellers get their items in front of as many potential buyers as possible.
Some other online sites have tried to make consignment-style sales more painless for users, including online pawn shop startups, and Toronto-based ShopMyClothes.com, which offers free listings but focuses on local sales. Threadflip, however, goes above and beyond most in terms of offering a very targeted approach to a specific market (women with higher-end taste in clothing and accessories), and also through its special “White Glove” service, which is an offering that provides users with the ability to send their products in to Threadflip, and have them photographed and listed by the company’s own staff, for a consignment that will start out ranging between 30 and 40 percent per sale, Singh said.
The White Glove option is designed to cater to customers who don’t have the time, inclination or technical savvy to snap and upload photos themselves, ensuring Threadflip appeals to as wide a selection of fashion enthusiasts as possible, including potentially older clients. It’s a smart move, because it opens the potential supply pool for site stock, which will be crucial to helping Threadflip succeed in terms of gaining early traction.
Threadflip’s biggest challenge, however, will still be convincing users that free listing services like Craiglist are not better options in the long run. But Singh and his team are hoping user experience, solid site design, a forthcoming iOS application and making the process as painless as possible will convince users that paying a little extra is worth it. Targeting fashionistas with a platform that’s starting in the U.S., but hopes to expand internationally and offers more than just the possibility of local sales should go a long way toward helping Threadflip achieve that.