Episode 96
March 1, 2019

The Intersection of Preferences and Intent

Recorded live at eTail West 2019, Brian sits down with Chris Homer of thredUP to talk about how data is assisting the "treasure hunt" in the secondhand retail market space. thredUP uses data, events and preferences to help their customers find wardrobe pieces they'll love, and they use technology to assist them to have joyful experiences over and over.

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Recorded live at eTail West 2019 - Brian sits down with Chris Homer of thredUP to talk about how data is assisting the "treasure hunt" in the secondhand retail market space. thredUP uses data, events, and preferences to help their customers find wardrobe pieces they'll love, and they use technology to assist them in having joyful experiences over and over.

Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Brian interviews Chris Homer, CTO of thredUp, live from eTailWest!
  • The second-hand market is growing exponentially faster than legacy retail.
  • Thredup is partnering with the supplier, has increased the amount of apparel in their lineup.
  • How has thredUP transitioned into a data-driven culture?
  • thredUP is allowing its customers to treasure hunt under supervision, using data to increase their customer's experience and the chance of satisfaction in purchasing.

thredUP: The Story Behind The Online Thrift Store:

Fun Fact: Second-Hand is Growing at Nine Times The Rate of Legacy Retail:

  • The resell or second-hand market is growing incredibly fast, with thredUP's 2018 retail report pointing to resell growing at nine times the rate of regular purchasing.
  • Chris says that thredUP has been compiling these reports for 2-3 years and is the result of internal and external data from the company's database and users.
  • One thing that the thredUP team was amazed by is how many of their customers were shopping secondhand for the very first time through the platform, and this was made possible because of thredUP's emphasis on quality control.
  • Another fun fact from the 2018 report: The resell market is expected to hit 41B by 2022, according to thredUP CEO James Reinhart.

thredUP vs. Poshmark: Saving Customers Time and Patience:

Data, And More Data: thredUP's Data-Driven Culture Yields Actual Results:

  • Chris points to thredUP changing the dynamic of their teams as one of the hallmarks of their success. thredUP teams were shifted from functional siloed teams to cross-functional teams focused on business goals.
  • There's a reason this is so helpful: When teams are centered around goals as opposed to specific fields like marketing or engineering it brings ownership and accountability to the team itself.
  • This approach also gives teams multiple options for how to extract and modify data that is actually relevant.
  • Chris also mentions that while having these teams focused on singular goals may lead to more messiness, it encourages more creativity and execution, as long as regular maintenance is performed.
  • Brian points out that data collection and implementation is not a technology problem; it's a people problem. Without the right team structure and culture, relevant data won't be utilized properly.

thredUP is Making Thrift Shopping More Fun Through Personalization:

  • One of the pillars thredUP operates under is: "Giving a personalized and convenient treasure hunt to your customer."
  • Brian loved garage sales as a kid,
  • thredUP is giving its customer an opportunity to both discover items that they'll love through a massive assortment and is making new purchase recommendations based on previous customer purchasing.
  • As Brian points out, this is a form of guided commerce and will help customers make choices based on thredUP's actual personalization of data.

So what are your thoughts on Secondhand Commerce?

Go over to Futurecommerce.fm and give us your feedback! We love to hear from our listeners!

Retail Tech is moving super fast and Future Commerce is moving faster!

Download MP3 (34.8 MB)


Brian: [00:01:20] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm your host, Brian. I am here live at eTAIL West in the podcast booths right on the marketplace floor, hence all the background noise. I'm joined by Chris Homer, the CTO and co-founder of ThredUp. Super excited to have you on the show.


Chris: [00:01:39] Hi, Brian. Good to be here.


Brian: [00:01:42] So I would love to hear more about your story about how you co-founded ThredUp, how you got to that position, what your role is, how it's evolved over time... So maybe start with an intro and tell me more about yourself.


Chris: [00:01:57] Sure. So, yeah, we started this ThredUp over 9 years ago. James, myself and Oli were basically working on this problem right out of business school. James and I were at business school together, and James was the one with the original idea where he looked at his closet and thought, "Good Lord, how do I get rid of some of this stuff and replace it with stuff that I want?" And it just grew from there. And so as we dove into it after school, it just became a real passion project. And we found a good footing with it really resonating with the customer. And eventually we decided to change the business model and actually focus on kids along the way and started swapping kids clothes and trying to make that work. And it wasn't until 2012 after starting in 2009, it wasn't in 2012 that we had this aha moment that the best way to scale for us would be to actually do more work for the supplier, because often these marketplaces are supply constrained. And to alleviate that, we said, "Okay, if we do all the work, if we allow someone to fill a bag of clothes, have a FedEx label on it, have it come to us, we do all the work, there's nothing more to do, there's nothing stopping them, and all they want to do is get rid of these clothes..." And all of a sudden we've been buried in bags ever since. And so it's been awesome. It's been a great ride. And, you know, every year the team grows, the company grows, the number of items in inventory, the number of items that are coming in from customers grows. And, you know, it's keeps going.


Brian: [00:03:28] That's crazy, you say buried in bags? You have some numbers you can share of what that actually means?


Chris: [00:03:35] Sure. Sure. So we usually measure it in terms of how long it takes for a bag from the customer, from when it arrives at our warehouse to when we can process it and put it online. And at the worst times, we're talking about multiple weeks. You're talking about like a month and a half type timeframe. And, you know, at the best, it comes in a couple of days. And so that can really ebb and flow. In terms of units and bags of themselves, it's, you know, a good amount of good backlog, which gives us some breathing room to running out of bags versus having too many is like 20-40,000 in the queue waiting to be processed. But we're cranking through those very quickly. We're putting online around 30,000 items a day. And each bag, having around 15 items that comes out of it that we can accept. And so that's kind of the scale that we're we're talking about right now.


Brian: [00:04:23] My gosh, so much volume. I'm sure that's a lot to manage. You've got extensive systems, and you had a phenomenal talk that you did here at eTAIL West on Tuesday. I'd love to dive a little deeper on that. Although before that, one thing we recently brought up on the show was the resale report that ThredUp put out, which was really detailed, really nice report. If you listeners haven't seen that report yet, just go to thredup.com/resale and you can check out that report. Resales growing 9x faster than legacy retailers. What do you think is driving this craze of resale?


Chris: [00:05:07] Sure. Well thanks for the compliments on that report. It's something we've been doing almost every year for the last four or five years or maybe three or four years. But it's really grown in its ability to help people understand what's happening in resale and the exciting growth that's happening. We actually have a new one coming out in the next few months as well. I don't know the exact drop date yet, but there'll be a whole new revision with all updated data. One of the great things about that report is we really tap into all the data in our database and help trying to expose that. So we're really proud to be able to kind of share that with the market. In terms of the resale economy or resale market as a whole and where that growth is coming from. I think more and more people are realizing that you don't have to be buying brand new clothes all the time to look great, to feel great. And quite often you can find something that you can afford that's higher brand quality or something more aspirational you can afford at a lower price by shopping in the resale market. So I think more and more people are are coming to find that. What we were surprised by a few years ago is just how many people, how many of our new customers, were trying second hand purchasing for the first time. There was a point well before that where we thought we're just going be taking people who are already shopping thrift and consignment off line and bringing them online. But it's really been a great swing in the adoption curve where we're really introducing people to second hand for the first time, because I think we're doing such a great job of making sure the quality of what we accept is a certain grade that people can trust. And then I think, you know, broadly, it's just it's growing every year. There's more talk on them in the media. You've got the Marie Kondo effect this year. It's just growing and growing and building in momentum. And so I think the awareness is really, really pushing through, especially as there's multiple companies in the space along with us.


Brian: [00:07:10] You mentioned multiple companies. You were a bit of an early adopter in the trend. And so I'm assuming that things have changed quite a bit. And the challenges that you're facing now are different than the challenges you were facing when you first entered the market. So what differentiates you from like a Poshmark or The RealReal or these other up and coming second hand markets?


Chris: [00:07:31] Sure. Yeah. I mean, I'd say you're you're on it with Poshmark and The RealReal are the biggest other other two that we think about. The approach Poshmark has taken, which is purely peer to peer. Right? So you create your own listings, they make it pretty easy, but you have to do the work to create the listing and then manage the transaction in terms of, you know, the back and forward negotiation, setting the price, having somebody you're saying I want to sell this for $20 and somebody's like, "I want it for $18," and you've got to manage that. And so to us, like our differentiation is don't deal with that. You know, that's not something that most people for an $18, $20, $40 item really want to go through. Maybe once in a while, maybe for that piece that you really love and want to make sure it finds the right home. Like, if you have that attachment to something, then maybe it makes sense. Or if you're just really into that social selling, then like obviously that's a platform for somebody. But we play in the space where most people are busy. Most people don't have the time to do that. Many people don't want to go to U.P.S. or FedEx to ship the item out. Most people just want the stuff cleared out of their house. And so that's who we serve as as a customer. The RealReal also concern me that way, but they only serve the tip top of the brand pyramid, so they're only serving in the luxury end. And so again, we can accept some of that, but we that's not where we try and serve. So if somebody is only has all the top brands, The RealReal is the right place for them to go. If they've got a good breadth of brands and different levels of clothes that they want to get rid of will accept far more than The RealReal ever will, and so that would be kind of how he would position ourselves there.


Brian: [00:09:04] Interesting. So earlier you mentioned that you've got some metrics for accepting clothes. And I'm assuming that there are certain brands that you accept, certain ones that you won't accept. That's a huge effort. What systems do you have in place right now to to review those clothes, get them into your system, figure out sizing and era, and then actually put them up on your site? How are you managing that process?


Chris: [00:09:36] Sure. Yeah, we accept over 30,000 brands. There are very few brands that we outright reject today. When a bag comes to the distribution center, there's a series of systems that we've built with our engineering team to facilitate it. It gets scanned in and received, as you'd imagine, eventually gets opened and inspected. While it's being inspected, there's a reference photo that shot. If you were to kind of watch the whole sequence, it's all designed and built in a way to try and minimize the amount of time between each step. And so as you're taking a hanger, as you're an operator taking a hanger off the rack, it's got a barcode, you just wave it in front of a scanner and that shooting the reference photo. And so there's not a lot of like manually putting the hanger down, picking up a camera, doing all this... It's all kind of coordinated to make it really seamless. And that's true throughout the entire process where after the inspection, it gets itemized with a number of attributes like brand and category and size. It gets measured with a physical measuring tape to confirm that the sizing on the label matches what we'd expect from the sizing across the back and etc, the waist. And each type of category or garment will have a different set of sizes that we need to put in to make sure that the sizing is consistent and and can make sense for the user. And then it goes there to mannequin photo or, you know, gets shot on a mannequin. There's another Q A step where they're adding additional attributes as well as queueing what's already been done. And then finally, it's being put away on automated racks that, you know, if you picture a massive dry cleaning, racking installation, there's just rows and rows and aisles and aisles of these racks hat are all computer controlled, system controlled, so that as you want to put away or pick, it's all automated, and there's the minimal amount of moving for a human to do in the process.


Brian: [00:11:29] That is a huge process. Obviously, you've found a way to do it cost effectively because that sounds like a lot of manual review, a lot of human touch, which is I think pretty, pretty unique. And also, you mentioned 30,000 brands that you accept. That's more brands than most retailers ever have to touch. So I'd be curious... We talk a lot about brand a lot on the show and the concept of a brand. So how do you feel brand factors into second hand purchasing? And is this second hand market sort of changing perception of brand and what a brand means and or even changing the view of a specific consumers of a specific brand because of a second purchase?


Chris: [00:12:14] Sure. Yeah. Brand is still very much an anchor in the purchasing behavior. I think the second hand market opens up a real opportunity for people to take risk of discovering new brands. And we can play a role in seeing the brands that you've been buying and liking and then therefore recommend to you a more long tail brands where we don't have as much volume or you might not have heard of before. And so that discovery and, you know, call it democratizing of the brand long tail is something that I think, you know, we can play a big role in. I think the what's really interesting is as we've looked at the different brands that are successful versus return rates and that sort of thing, there are definitely some brands that stand out as favorites in the resale market because they're a little more aspirational, higher quality, and then they actually stand up to multiple cycles and resale. I know one of my favorite brands that we've partnered with, and it's my favorite for my child, for my kid, Isaac... We always buy a Parlarn O. Pyret. It's a small brand. It's super high quality. They make amazing snow suits, amazing jackets. And they're just, they're so well-made that when they come through the cycle, they don't get worn down versus like, you know, fast fashion item might last one cycle, but often the pilling or tears or stains, you know, the materials being used are more susceptible to stain that sort of thing. And so they don't last as long. But, like I said, not we're generally not rejecting brands unless they are just way too cheap to be able to actually sustain themselves in the market. If something's being sold three for $8 new, there's no way to make that work online in resale. And so there's a very small number at the bottom that we can't accept, but the vast majority we're able to.


Brian: [00:14:06] Amazing. One thing that really made my ears perk up was you mentioned your partner with the brands. And I think one of the things we talked about on the show is how brands need to do a better job of controlling and getting involved in their secondary markets. So are you working directly with brands as like their official moderator of their second hand market or partnering with them on their data or not in other ways?


Chris: [00:14:32] So not in the full official "We're partnering with you as creating your own market on your site." We haven't done that yet. It's something we've talked about, and there might be some interest down the line. What I'm talking about specifically is supply partnerships where, let's take Palarn O. Pyret as the example, they'll include in their outbound orders, the stuff that they're shipping off of their e-commerce site, they'll include a cleanup kit, which is an envelope with a bag and a FedEx label on it for ThredUp, co-branded with Palarn O. Pyret. And then as their customers get that, they send in clothes and earn money to spend on Palarn O. Pyret. And so those have been really great in spreading awareness of the resale market, of ThredUp, and bringing more suppliers to kind of realize that there's a different avenue for their closets to be cleared out. I think it's a great opportunity for brands to really invest in showing that they want to be a part of this market and they want to help their customers, you know, do the right thing with the clothes that they're not wearing, rather than just letting them build up in bins or find their way to landfills or sold through the current donation landscape, which when you actually look at it, most of the value of the clothes does not go to the donation to the charities. Most of the value ends up in the bundlers. And the charities take a very, very small cut of it. And so if you're with somebody who really wants to donate your clothes, we actually had donation option where 100% of those proceeds from the market price for the bag goes to the donation partner, as opposed to taking off like charges for shipping and all the stuff that you see very common in the place. There's lots of options to clean out. And depending on as a brand where you are, there's great ways for us to partner together.


Brian: [00:16:17] That's amazing. I love that. I think that there's so much waste in fashion, and so I love that you're doing this. I love the sustainability aspect of it. I think that consumers want to give back, and they want to take part in a better way of doing business. And so I think that's super compelling. And it's definitely a good lesson for our listeners. And good advice is have avenues and opportunities for your customers to be able to get involved in not just throwing things away, but really making sure that we're all living in sustainable ways. I love that.


Chris: [00:16:54] Just add one more thing on that is, you know, if you as a brand or your company has been thinking about the resale market and, you know, wants a partner that wants to think about how would it make sense for you? We're not trying to force every brand into a turnkey, must do it this way. There's some options that we have to turn it on very fast. But we also, you know, for the right partnership, are totally open to thinking about how to do something more innovative with each of you. So we're all for people approaching us with their ideas and we can do it together.


Brian: [00:17:24] I love that. Love that. I think that comments like that are really representative of the culture you have at ThredUp and in your session on Tuesday you dived even deeper into kind of the things that have made ThredUp successful, and how you've built the culture that you have. And you have these four pillars that are the cornerstone of how you go to market, and how you work with people, and how you interact with your customers. And the first thing that started this for you is having a data driven culture. And so I was curious to, for our listeners, if you could dive a little deeper into what that means for you and how you apply that for your customer's benefit.


Chris: [00:20:04] Sure. So one of the changes we made with our teams and how they work together a few years back was to start moving from functional siloed teams, like engineering and marketing and design and product, to cross-functional teams targeted at business goals. So we have a team, for example, focused on how to grow supply, grow the quality of supply, the breadth of supply, the brands that we partner with. Their mission is all around that. And there's a cross-functional team that's dedicated to that. That means that there's engineers, there's designers, there's a product manager and a data scientist or data engineer that's right in that team. And what that really brings is ownership. So that not only does that team have ownership of the goal, but also end and full cycle from conception of idea or problem and solution ideas to how to roll it out, deploy it, get it in through test, get it online and then maintain has those solutions are online, and there is no handing off over a wall, throwing the thing over and not caring about it. So culturally, that culture of ownership is really foundational to being successful with data, because when you're talking about data, we can do analysis and we can say, "Oh, that's interesting and that's interesting." But then what's actionable about it? Right? And so the action comes from the ownership of the team and the team seeing ideas and solutions that might emerge from the data and then designing the products or the models from the data to actually then bring something to the customer. And without that full cycle, it's very hard to like hand off these pieces and have the same level of interest and excitement. And so we found that to be culturally very successful. The other big part of it for us, in terms of making sure the culture is data driven, is making sure that the data is fully visible, fully under their control, and lots of different options for how to either extract the data or to then make changes, modify, and persist it back. And we try to keep the team, give the teams as much flexibility to choose the paths they want to take as as possible. The downside is that often results in a little more sprawl on the data side, and you have to manage that. And so you're kind of a little bit constantly in a tug of war type contest around, you know, do we clean up or do we allow the sprawl? And, you know, you sometimes do well with that, and sometimes you fall behind that and you have to kind of adjust. But I think allowing some messiness there allows for more creativity, more ideas, and more fast execution. And then, you know, you just have to do the maintenance work along the way. But that's, I think, been some of the things that really added up to really strong data driven culture for us.


Brian: [00:22:43] Yeah, I think what I love about what you're saying is it's actually it's not a technology problem, it's a people problem. It's an organizational problem. The tools are out there. There are tons of tools for managing data and collecting data and, you know, and making data visible to people. But if you don't have the right structure and the right culture and the right organization, it's all going to go by the wayside because you're not going to do anything with it, or you're going to end up collecting data that has no relevance. And so I think that's a huge lesson. And I love that model. And I think I hope that our listeners are taking note because this is good. It's really good. One of the other pillars was predictable quality and sizing. And we talked a ton about body data and sizing data and like how that's going to change not just fashion, but a whole set of industries up ahead. But I can imagine that's really, really difficult in the resale market. You mentioned that you're taking a tape measure to every piece of clothing, but how are you ultimately servicing that data back to your customers? And how do you expect this to evolve in the next couple of years?


Chris: [00:23:58] Sure. So today it's a manual process in terms of the measuring the garments, like you said. We are working on, our operations algorithms team is working on ways to either automate or streamline that so that it can be even more efficient. As it is there pretty fast. The part that is more important to fix is the accuracy part. You may be surprised how when someone's measuring a waistline, how it can be 33 inches plus or minus one, depending on who is doing the measuring and what specific rules and approaches they take, and you can train through it and you try and have Q A catch and all that. But ultimately, you know, a couple percent, even even sub 1% error, when you're talking about a million items coming into the system every month, is a large number of items. And so that's definitely an area that we're investing in to try and get better and better at. In terms of things like know body scan data and, you know, trying to do a better job of telling our customer, telling her on the site what might fit and what won't. What we're doing today is a pretty simple little indicator that says whether we expect this to fit you or run small or run large. And that's based on the graph of data about your purchases and what you kept, other people's purchases and what they kept, and then what's been returned and for what reasons. And we graph that together to come up with these recommendations. It's not perfect, but it seems to have a two fold improvement, some improvement in returns for sizing have gone down. And then also we see a pop in conversion because we're giving someone the confidence that they can try this item and take a little risk, whereas before they might be like, "Hmm, I'm not sure if that's going to fit me," especially if the picture, for whatever reason on the mannequin, was styled in the way that they might be like, "Oh that's not my body type." But if we have some data that shows that, hey, this actually fits very similar to something else you bought and kept. We can try and increase their confidence to make a purchase.


Brian: [00:25:54] Have you built that tool internally to resurface that data to the customer? Or is this something that you've partnered with someone else on?


Chris: [00:26:02] So we built that internally to kind of prove out the case. We will probably iterate a little bit internally. But I'll also be talking partners like True Fit and others that are out there, because one of the tenants of our culture that I didn't touch on is this idea that we do tend to err to building versus buying. And that doesn't mean permanently. But we like to prove things out and understand them ourselves and can often iterate faster, you know, on our end without involving the partner. And then once we build a view, build an opinion about what makes sense, then engaging in a partner at that point tends to be the a better path. And then the team is more invested and bought in on working with the partner to be successful. And so, you know, for us that this is an area that will probably reach out to some of those partners, but it's not where we started because we felt like we could do a pretty good job to just get it getting going and then prove out that this can make a difference.


Brian: [00:26:57] I think that's unbelievable advice, especially when it comes to a lot of these new technologies. Maybe run some... For our audience, I think what I'm hearing is run some internal tests and do some validation before you go out and spend the money on a tool. I love that advice. It's awesome. When you do go and ultimately partner and purchase a piece of technology, what's a good indicator that it's gonna be a good match for your organization?


Chris: [00:27:24] Sure. So for us, one of the key things that we need for it to be successful is flexibility from the partner. Some partners, their solutions might be great for a general e-commerce experience where it's many, many quantity of the same SKU gets sold, and so from a recommendation standpoint, you can do the "People who bought this bought that" and it works. For us, everything is unique. So that just throws a wrench in it. And so in almost all partnerships, that and other factors, mean that we need flexibility, because as we go through that partnership, we will discover, we will do tests, and we'll discover what's working and what's not, and we need to be able to follow those threads without being locked into a very boxed in product. And so one of the first things that I try to press on with talking to partners is like "Help me understand where the limits of your flexibility are, because neither of us want to be surprised by those and we want to both understand that." The other thing I'd say is that for our culture to be successful with a partner is we need to get the team understanding why we want to partner, why we're not building it ourselves, but then, you know, bought in and ready to treat that partner as if they're part of the team. The worst engagement that we can have is where it's like, "Oh, OK. So we just have to drop this pixel and then we're good.? Oh, OK. We dropped the pixel. OK, now you need this data and now we need this." And the teams are like, "Oh, my God, I just have so much more work to do." And it just feels like you're being kind of jerked around by this other party versus, look, the reason you go into these partnerships is to partner, is to work together. And you need to get everybody on board with like this is an iterative process, and you're gonna work through it, and it's not going to be two hours of work and done. That's usually a sign for me from a partner that it's not going to work is when they try to convince me to sign up because I just have to drop a pixel. Rarely does that manifest itself in value.


Brian: [00:29:13] Oh, my gosh, that's huge. I think both for our technology vendors that are listening and for our merchants that are listening. This is something I think you should absolutely take note of, because I've heard I mean, I've been out walking the floor here, and I've definitely heard several technology vendors say, "Oh, it's as simple as dropping a pixel. And then we do some stuff on the back end and make it work." And it's like, "OK, it's it's more than that." This is a partnership between brand and technology, and you have to treat them as part of your team. It's not just as simple as dropping a pixel. I think that's really, really good advice. So, we're kind of running on time here soon. I wanted to hit on just a couple more things. One other pillar that you mentioned was that you want to give a personalized and convenient treasure hunt to your customers. And I love this because when I was a kid, I actually loved garage sale-ing and going on that like bargain hunt and getting that find, and I feel like garage sales are still happening, obviously, but a lot of that happened on Craigslist kind of after that era, and OfferUp, and now you've got ThredUp, and that whole process is really a big deal. And also, you've seen discounters like TJ Maxx, and Ross, and others that have built their entire business model on kind of this idea of finding that bargain. So, what kind of feedback are you seeing from your customers around this concept, and how are you leading them down this path in a way where they feel like they're really getting a bargain, and it's not just available to everyone, it's something unique to them?


Chris: [00:30:51] Sure. There are a few things. So we've definitely seen in our user behavior and engagement and purchase data, when we ramp our processing power, the number of units we can put online in a day, engagements, spikes. It's like a high correlation. It's very much there. So it makes it easier to justify increases in capacity, which is great. So that's definitely a huge thing is when there's lots of new stuff coming online and people can eat it up and they can do the little treasure hunt through the 30,000 items, they feel great. Now there's two and a half million items on the site. So there's an even deeper treasure hunt to be had, especially as you think about price markdowns and things like that. So what we try to do, because it's an infeasible for somebody to actually sift through two and a half million items. And if you select a size, let's narrow that to half a million, still infeasible to sift through half a million items. What we try to do is give people different tools to be able to express what their preferences are. So as you join ThredUp, you'd be asked to provide a size profile as an example and you'll put in your sizes are size 6 in tops and size 4 in bottoms or whatever. And then you'll go through and like start to browse the site, and at any point you can save your search. So wherever search or browsing step you're on, whatever filters you applied, you can save that and then subscribe to alerts and notifications about those things. As you're browsing items and favoriting some stuff that you like that maybe you're not ready to buy yet, maybe the price is a little high for you, as we adjust the prices, as new items come online matching searches, or as those favorite items drop in prices, or as items matching your searches drop in prices, this intersection of events and preferences and profiles and what you've shown us through your intent, that intersection becomes your feed of updates and kind of freshness, essentially. And so it's not always a treasure hunt there. Sometimes we present you with the perfect item, but sometimes we present you as an item that you go, "Huh, that's interesting." And then you dive and you do a treasure hunt for something similar because that one wasn't quite right. And so I think, like, what we're really aiming to do is have an amazing number of products, at great prices, but then give you the tools to have that treasure hunt be easy but fun and great and to find great stuff through the site.


Brian: [00:33:11] I love that you're providing a personalized experience. You're providing sort of a bit of humanization to the whole process. And I think you're even touching on something that we're really excited about this year, which is the idea of guided commerce and clienteling and long term relationship with your client. We're out of time here, and I would love to talk to you all day long about this, actually, but we usually like to end the show with... Just give us your top near-term recommendations for merchants, you know, what should they do, what should they avoid? And then what about a five year thing that they should sort of keep an eye on?


Chris: [00:33:44] Sure. I think my biggest recommendation would be think about the customer that you have and what's the job they're hiring you as a company to do, and try to pick one or two things where you can do that job just a little bit better for them, and try and focus. We have this problem at times. It's so easy to get distracted by lots of different shiny ideas and opportunities. All the vendors in the world, the partners out there are all throwing these like "We can make things amazing for you" at you. But really, I'd say the more you focus, the more you have the team rallied around some core ideas, the more progress you'll make. The more spread out and lack of focus, the slower it will all go. I'd say start with that. Secondly, it would be definitely if you're not doing it already, do prototypes, put them in front of customers, get feedback and learn quickly. The longer your learning cycles are, the slower the whole thing goes. The faster you can tighten up the cycles, the faster you learn, the faster you improve things for the customer.


Brian: [00:34:35] Love that. And five years? What are you looking at in five years?


Chris: [00:34:39] Sure. Well, I think mobile will obviously continue to just dominate. And I don't know if the VR/AR world of fashion is going to be there yet. It's obviously advancing a lot. But the idea that I'm going to shop with a headset on, or shop with my phone up in front of me, or any of these types of things... I don't think we're quite convinced that we're going to be there, but we're going to be playing with it because we want to be a part of any of those revolutions. I do think the verbal, or talking and chat bot type shopping will keep evolving. It's very low bandwidth and the information flow through those channels is very hard to get scale with. But I think, you know, there'll be a lot more experimentation, and we'll learn a lot over the next few years about what works and what doesn't and how to make that process of working with an Alexa or a Google Home or or other methods, Google Assistant, you know how to make that work for actually purchasing and discovering products. So I think that'll be an area that in five years it won't just be like, hey, pull up the app or pull up the website. They'll be a different way that you're communicating into shopping and finding things on a company like ThredUp, a marketplace like ThredUp.


Brian: [00:35:54] That's a great place to leave things. Thanks so much for coming on the show and thank you, listeners, for tuning in today. As always, we'd love to hear feedback from you about the show and your thoughts on secondhand commerce or any feedback you have for us. So please help our site FutureCommerce.fm. Leave us a comment or connect with us on LinkedIn or Instagram or any other place you can find us. Love to have you join the conversation with that. Thanks again, Chris. We'll see you on the next episode.


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