A wave of bargain shopping IPOs are coming. Why now?

Poshmark, ThredUp, and Wish were all founded after the 2008-09 financial crisis. A decade on -- and amid another crisis -- these bargain shopping apps are thriving.


December 2, 2020

For the longest time on the internet, the best places to lowball-offer your way to a great bargain were eBay and Craigslist.

But things changed in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Powered by the smartphone revolution (and tight budgets), 3 bargain shopping apps were founded in quick succession: ThredUp (2009), Wish (2010), and Poshmark (2011).

Amid another crisis, the apps have come of age

Per The Information, all 3 companies are looking toward an IPO.

ThredUp and Poshmark — both active in the $28B apparel resale market —  filed confidentially. While their numbers aren’t available, Coresight research pegs Poshmark as the 2nd-biggest reselling platform after eBay.

Wish (which sells insanely cheap items of all sorts, typically sourced from China) claims it’s the world’s most-downloaded shopping app. According to the $11B startup’s prospectus, it has:

  • 100m monthly active users in 100+ countries
  • 500k+ merchants selling 150m items (~1.8m sold daily)
  • $1.7B revenue through September (vs. $1.1B in 2017)

An underserved part of the market

According to Forbes, Wish’s CEO Peter Szulczewski targets “the bottom 25% of U.S. households by income, scraping by on $31,000 or less a year.”

On the site, you’ll find things like $4 “lux” watches, $253 laptops and (why didn’t anyone tell me about this) $12 engagement rings.

ThredUp and Poshmark also appeal to tight budgets but have the added tailwind of “socially conscious” shopping.

In an effort to avoid waste, millennials are happy owning secondhand goods, which are projected to make up “17% of a person’s share of closet space by 2029, up from just 3% in 2009,” according to GlobalData Retail.

In July, Wish lost a big shipping subsidy…

… which allowed Chinese merchants to ship directly to the US at a cheaper cost than shipping within the US. With most goods coming from China, Forbes described this development as an “existential threat.”

To offset this loss, Wish is building a network of 100k small shops across the US. Customers can keep scoring low costs if they pick up multiple bundled items in person.

There’s no guarantee it’ll work.

But with a long economic recovery ahead, bargain hunting (and aggressive lowballing) are here to stay.

(Related: Read our Trends Q&A with ThredUp’s founder and CEO)

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