We’ve covered several companies that are trying to help people sell their used clothing, from Hipswap to Sellies, not to mention the numerous Craigslist alternatives on the market. San Francisco-based Twice is another entrant in the clothing resale space. The company was founded in September 2011 and launched in March 2012, and just added $4 million in Series A funding from investors including IA Ventures and Felicis Ventures. They’re on track to cross $1 million in sales in 2012, and right now offer between 8,000 and 9,000 items on the site.
Unlike typical fashion resale sites, which let people post photos of their clothes and require them to ship directly to the buyer themselves, Twice acts as a middleman that handles shipping and quality control. Sellers send their items to Twice (the company covers shipping), and they decide which items to keep based on their condition – items have to be freshly laundered, in good condition, and less than five years old. If items don’t meet their quality standards, they’re either returned to the seller for $5 shipping, or donated to Goodwill.
Usually consignment stores only pay out when an item is sold, taking a cut of the purchase price. Twice is more similar to buy/sell/trade chains like Buffalo Exchange, which pay people up front for their goods. Twice makes sellers an offer on their items based on their appraisals (they list estimated price ranges for items on the site, and usually pay 25-35 percent of what they expect an item to sell for), and pays them up front via check or PayPal if they accept that offer. While this eliminates the time and effort it takes sellers to upload and sell their items, the price ranges are lower than what someone would typically make by selling their item on a site like Hipswap and paying out their 3.5 percent transaction fee.
For buyers, items in the Twice marketplace are 70-90 percent off retail price, and the company offers free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $49 ($5 shipping for smaller orders), as well as free 30-day returns.
Ex-Google employee and Twice co-founder Noah Ready-Campbell said the idea for Twice was inspired by the collaborative consumption trend, and startups like Zipcar and Airbnb. His co-founder Calvin Young hit on the idea of applying the idea to apparel, but they didn’t want to do a peer-to-peer marketplace since eBay already corners that market. ”We felt like we needed to do something different,” Ready-Campbell said, adding that it can often be a lot of work to photograph, upload and list items for sale on eBay. “We knew there was an opportunity to be 10 times better by just doing that all ourselves, and making it a much, much easier experience for our sellers.”
Right now they only accept women’s clothing, but Ready-Campbell said they’re planning to add men’s and children’s clothing in the future, which would put them into competition with sites like thredUP. And the site is only available to U.S. residents, though Ready-Campbell said they’re looking to expand to Canada, and will likely grow internationally before adding new product categories.
Twice has to contend with competitors on both the buyer and seller side. For sellers, other options include brick and mortar consignment or buy/sell/trade stores, swapping marketplaces like Swapsity, resale marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay, Threadflip, and Hipswap, and “infinite closet” startups like 99Dresses that let them trade their clothes with other fashion-savvy users. Ready-Campbell said for sellers, the biggest competitor is a substitute for selling it online, donating it or throwing it away. “Our mission is to build awareness among people who are getting rid of their clothing and let them know that there’s an alternative to throwing it away or donating it to Goodwill,” he said.
For buyers, they also have to compete with clothing rental sites like Rent The Runway, and of course discount clothing chains that fit into a similar pricepoint.”When it comes to buyers, our biggest competition is brick and mortar stores,” he said. “In that regard we compete with the brick and mortar buy/sell/trade, we also compete with things like T.J.Maxx, Marshalls.”
Twice has funding in the bank, and Ready-Campbell said their plan is to bring on more designers and engineers to build out the product team and develop mobile apps. Their other priority is building out the site’s inventory. ”When somebody comes to our site, we want to make sure we have exactly what they’re looking for, and since all of our inventory is one-off secondhand goods, we just need to have a ton of it,” he said.