NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sites such as Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report and eBay (EBAY) - Get Report have been extremely popular in recent years thanks to their ease of use and ability to shop from home or on the go. But that tide is now turning in a new direction for women's clothing and accessories thanks to the emergence of mobile shopping apps that offer an experience more akin to a thrift shop or consignment store.
The market for peer-to-peer mobile shopping apps is becoming increasingly crowded as shoppers forego the eBays and Amazons of the world in favor of a more personal experience. CrunchBase calculated in January 2014 that these online consignment and secondhand stores had raised at least $109.2 million in financing.
Take Threadflip, for example. CEO Manik Singh got the inspiration for the site from his wife, Tea, who couldn't seem to part with an expensive pair of boots that she no longer wore. When Manik asked her why she couldn't sell them, she said they reminded her of a particular time in her life and she wanted to sell them to someone who would appreciate them. Existing consignment stores and sites such as eBay didn't provide that option for her, and the inspiration for Threadflip struck Manik.
There are differences among the various apps and sites out there, but the general process for each one is largely the same. Sellers take a picture of the dress, shoes, purse, etc. and upload it to the service along with the item's size, condition, original price, asking price, and a host of other details. Buyers can browse the site, look for the items they want, and then conduct the transaction. In many cases, the companies take a commission on the sale.
Threadflip launched in April 2012 and has seen solid growth since its inception. The company announced $13 million in Series B funding on July 20, 2014 to bring its total funding to $21.1 million. Norwest Venture Partners led this round of funding, with participation from previous investors Baseline Ventures, First Round Capital, and Shasta Ventures.
The site's most popular service is its Concierge Full Service, in which Threadflip handles the item listing, packaging, shipping, and communication with the customer. As of July 2014, nearly 80% of accessories and apparel on the site were ultimately sold when listed on this service, and Singh said at the time that the Concierge Full Service had grown more than 100% month-over-month since it debuted last year.
But Threadflip has plenty of competition. Vinted launched in the U.S. in September 2013 after five years of expansion in Europe. The service raised $27 million in second institutional financing from Accel Partners and Insight Venture Partners. Accel had previously invested $6.6 million in the first round of financing.
Then there's Mercari, which began in Japan in July 2013 and launched in the U.S. on September 12, 2014. The company, which has U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, touted itself on the day of the U.S. launch as the largest mobile marketplace in Japan with more than 4.5 million users, more than 100,000 new items listed each day, and monthly transactions in excess of $10 million.
But these are just three of the offerings out there. Let's not forget about Etsy, the Brooklyn-based e-commerce homemade goods retailer that filed for its initial public offering on March 4. The company applied to list on the Nasdaq and sought to raise $100 million through its IPO.
Etsy, founded by Rob Kalin in 2005, had 54 million members as of the end of 2014, with 1.4 million active sellers and 19.8 million active buyers worldwide.
And then we have other sites and apps such as Poshmark, Twice, ThredUp, and The RealReal that provide similar services for women's apparel and accessories.
As the mobile peer-to-peer shopping space fills up, it seems clear that the experience of shopping from home or from a mobile device is becoming more appealing to consumers.