JOOR, an online wholesale fashion marketplace, has raised $15 million in Series B funding, according to an SEC filing from today. The round was led by Canaan Partners and joined by Advance Publications and previous investors, including Battery Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Landis Capital and Forerunner Ventures. This brings JOOR’s total funding to $20.5 million.
Launched in 2010, JOOR provides a digital platform for B2B transactions between retailers and designers. CEO Mona Bijoor tells me the funding will be used to scale the company’s tech and sales teams. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Milan, Bijoor says the funding will also go to opening new offices across Europe and Asia.
“We’re rapidly expanding our global footprint, and we want to keep up our pace,” Bijoor tells me. “It’s not just about the number of brands you have, but the number of retailers, because they are using it. We’re a B2B platform, it’s all about adoption.”
The company has more than 40,000 retailers and 600 brands using the site, including Diane von Furstenberg, Rag & Bone and Zappos. Bijoor tells me JOOR added 10,000 retailers in the last three months alone. That’s a big jump from when we last reported on the company in 2011. Back then, JOOR was working with 250 brands and about 7,500 boutiques.
Note: A previous version of this post said the company has over 30,000 retailers and 500 brands. That has been changed after clarifying user numbers with Bijoor.
Online fashion marketplaces are picking up steam these days, quickly replacing the traditional auction model pioneered by eBay, as a way to consign, and sell your clothes. Twice, an online consignment shop for women’s clothing, is announcing a huge new investment today, raising $18.5 million led by Jeff Jordan of Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing investors IA Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Lerer Ventures and WTI. Angel investors Mike Lazerow, Joe Greenstein and Maria Thomas also invested. The round brings Twice’s total investment to over $23 million.
Twice competes in the same space with thredUP, Poshmark, Threadflip, 99Dresses, and others that invite women to resell their gently used clothing for extra cash. However, it’s most similar to thredUP among this group, because it doesn’t offer a peer-to-peer marketplace, but rather an online store where users send in items directly to the company itself. Once there, the clothing is then reviewed, measured, photographed and placed online for sale.
This makes a big difference in the user experience of the site, because all merchandising and photos are professionally done (and thus tend to lead to higher conversions), and the buyer is receiving customers from Twice vs. the seller. As co-founder Noah Ready-Campbell tells me, the startup aims to make the buying experience feel like the purchaser is buying brand-new clothes on a site. In fact, Twice has modeled its consumer and customer experience on Zappos.
Another differentiator from some of the higher-end marketplaces like TheRealReal or ShopHers, is that Twice focuses on reselling clothing from mass-market brands, such as Banana Republic, Gap, J Crew and Ann Taylor, versus high-end fashion designers. The average price point for an item of clothing on the site is $20.
In terms of the consignment experience, a potential seller can request a prepaid bag to be sent to them that holds up to 30 garments or print a free label and use their own box to send in clothing items. Once Twice receives the clothes, they’ll price the items that are fit to sell. The startup actually takes into account a large amount of data, including pricing on other sites, how quickly a specific brand sells, original pricing, condition of the clothes and more to determine the price of items. Ready-Campbell says that the average woman will send in the range of 17 items, and Twice will accept around 11 things to be sold, and others will be given to Goodwill for donation. He adds that 95 percent of women accept the prices Twice assigns to the clothes.
Twice then sends a lump sum check or PayPal deposit for the worth of the clothes to the seller, and then marks up the clothes slightly on the Twice marketplace so they can make a small profit. Sellers can also choose to get a Twice gift card for their clothes, and receive a 25 percent increase in the value of the card if they choose this option to spend the money on the marketplace.
In a lot of ways, Twice is bringing the white glove service of consignment to the masses and tackling a huge market at the same time by going after the middle market of clothing. In two years, Twice has accumulated hundreds of thousands of customers, and grown over 500 percent with little to no marketing spend. The startup recently launched iPad and iPhone apps, which are seeing thousands of downloads per day (and were featured by Apple).
As a side note, I’ve purchased items on a number of these marketplaces, including both high and mass market apparel, and have generally liked my experience. However, my closet is suffering in turn, and it’s time to start selling (in fact it’s one my New Year’s resolutions). What appeals to me about Twice is that I can sell my mass market items, which make up much of the items I want to actually give away. Normally, I would donate this to Goodwill, and I still can, but I can also stand to make a little cash from some of my clothing, of which I will be sorely tempted to simply put back into Twice.
We’re told the new funding is being used to aggressively hire talent and expand operations. And Twice just signed a lease for a warehouse in the Mission district of SF.
The clothing marketplaces arena is especially competitive, but Jordan betting on Twice is particularly interesting. Jordan, who was the former CEO of OpenTable and President of PayPal, has talked a lot about what e-commerce 2.0 looks like, and backed Zulily, one of the more successful e-commerce plays over the past five years. Opportunities for Twice could be additional curation, new verticals and more.
It looks like Google is starting to cut back on some of its less successful mobile apps. Earlier today, we reported that the Google+ Local app has disappeared from the App Store a few weeks ahead of its planned shutdown, and now, the company has announced that it is going to shut down the standalone Google Shopper app for iOS and Android on August 30.
Given how much online shopping has moved to mobile, that’s a bit of an odd move, but Google says it wants to focus on Google Shopping and Google Search “to create a better, more consistent shopping experience across all devices.” Over the last few months, Google says it introduced “360-degree product imagery, Shortlists and more relevant reviews” on Google Shopping, and it will put its resources into improving this service going forward.
Shopper, which launched in early 2010, allows users to check online and local prices by scanning cover art and barcodes, as well as through Google’s standard text and voice searches. The last iOS version only has a 3-star rating, though it looks like the Android version was reasonably popular, with over 34,000 ratings for a 4.2 star average.
Google argues that users can still find all of the information from Google Shopper through its search app on mobile and by visiting google.com/shopping.
Despite today’s announcement, the company is also teasing some new shopping products for mobile. “We look forward to sharing some great things we have coming on mobile for the holidays,” Google Shopping VP Sameer Samat writes in today’s blog post. Those new features, though, will likely be part of Google’s existing apps and won’t come in the form of a standalone app.
Bonobos. Dodocase. Warby Parker. A generation of e-commerce companies is growing up using a vertically-integrated strategy where take more ownership of the design, production, marketing and branding of their products. But how do you know very early on if you have a hit?
With a purely web-based or mobile product, startups can watch how well they retain users after a week or a month. With e-commerce companies, repeat purchases is an obvious metric, but there are also ways to track the virality of an e-commerce product.
A YC-backed startup called Curebit has built a business around tracking word-of-mouth referrals for companies like Bonobos. Based on that, the company says it’s able to not only drive sales but predict hits. What they do is create referral campaigns for e-commerce companies — like those landing pages that says you’ll get 25 percent off or $25 off your next purchase if you send a friend by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
Curebit will optimize the landing pages, copy, art direction and then track how many people convert to making a purchase after they’ve seen the page. On that strategy, the 12-person startup has grown to about 3,000 clients and a breakeven runrate. Their customers include Bonobos, Restaurant.com and Jawbone.
“We still have a lot of cash in the bank,” said the company’s CEO Allan Grant.
Since creating landing pages for referrals isn’t technically that difficult, the base version of Curebit is free. The startup makes money off custom services like testing hundreds of variants for the highest-performing campaigns. For that, they’ll charge $10,000 for the first $100,000 in extra sales generated by the campaigns, then they’ll take a 10 percent after that.
“Just having a basic feature set is not enough,” Grant said. “We engineer virality the way that social gaming companies measure and optimize their K-factor, viral loops and every step of the funnel.”
Here what’s the funnel might look like for a client –
Curebit drove 25 percent of the Bonobos’ new customers last year, which helped double the New York-based company’s customer base in 2012. Over time, Bonobos had to change its referral strategy. It was centered on Facebook sharing at first, but Curebit found that e-mail converted better for the company. That’s unusual since Facebook is a stronger channel in 93 percent of Curebit’s cases, Grant says.
He says the average lift in sales from referrals on e-mail, Facebook or Twitter is about 7 percent. But after watching lots of companies on the platform, the rate you really want to have is around 15 percent.
“If somebody’s lift is over 15 percent, then that company is going to explode really fast,” he said.
One example is Diamond Candles, which sells giant votive candles that have a ring hidden inside of them. Those rings are worth anywhere from $10 to $5,000 and the candles, for whatever reason, seem to be a great gift for women of all age groups.
“From their early days, we could tell they had some magic element,” he said. “We can’t always tell why somebody is going to explode though.”
He gave some common sense advice though: companies that break out either have a) a “fantastic product” or b) a “fantastic experience.” For example, Zappos (which is not a Curebit client) sells shoes that other retailers have as well, but they focus on giving customers a great experience. Bonobos, on the other hand, has a great product in pants that fit well.
Curebit isn’t looking at raising a Series A round at the moment. “We want to continue to grow a profitable business and if we were to do one, we wouldn’t start looking for another three to six months.”
The company last announced funding in January of last year with a $1.2 million round involving 25 investors including 500 Startups, Karl Jacob, Auren Hoffman, Dharmesh Shah, Gordon Tucker, Alex Lloyd of Accelerator Ventures and others. They’ll be focusing on growing the customer base and on new areas like mobile referrals in the next few months.
As the two biggest shopping days of the year come to a close, analysts are crunching the numbers on who bought what with which device. IBM recently reported that mobile devices captured 18 percent of the shopping market on Cyber Monday with the iPad in the lead with 90.5 percent of all tablet use. E-commerce solutions provider Monetate offered additional information to show that consumers are shifting from traditional desktops and laptops toward mobile devices for their shopping needs.
According to Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly report, tablet-based purchases have begun to make a dent in overall online buys, causing retailers to rethink and redesign how they offer products to consumers.
The reports show that desktop and laptop traffic dropped from 92.33 percent to 81.60 percent from the same time last year while mobile devices like smartphones and tablets more than doubled their market share. Tablets took 8.37 percent of the share of websites visited, up from 3.16 in 2011, while smartphones took 10.03 percent, which is an increase of 5.48 percent from 2011.
AppleInsider spoke with Monetate Chief Marketing Officer Kurt Heinemann, who said he expects the trend to continue. “I truly believe that the tablet is best used as an ‘in-house’ mobile device — it’s a replacement for the desktop or the laptop,” Heinemann said. “The mobile device is really that second screen experience; it’s really married to [a user’s] media experience in a different way than the desktop.”
Monetate’s report shows that the iPad accounted for 88.94 percent of all website visits from tablets. Android-based devices only account for 6.34 percent and the Kindle Fire accounts for 4.71 percent.
Heinemann believes the iPad mini will be the game changer for ecommerce in the future. He told AppleInsider that the smaller-sized Apple tablet will begin to affect the market in early 2013 and might even surpass the full-sized iPad in online shopping.
Heinemann said that, because the impact will be so great, retailers will likely redesign their websites to the iPad mini’s dimensions.
“I think what you’re going to see is the iPad mini becoming almost a standard design format, because if you can design for the iPad mini, it’s going to work on the [full size] iPad, it’s going to work on the desktop,” he said. “So instead of taking the desktop and working it down to the iPad mini, think about taking your iPad mini experience and working it up to the desktop. It’s going to be that important.”