Fashbae is a newly implemented free New Zealand online buy/sell platform for all things fashion. It soft launched in December, and already has over 30,000 active users. The site was founded by New Zealand’s 23 year old Bridget Thackwray. Operating with the Cullen investment, the site isn't making money yet but that's not part of its business plan at this stage although Thackwray has plans to monetise Fashbae through advertising as the number of users increases and it goes worldwide. We caught up with Bridget to find out a bit about her organisation, and how her points of difference reach an already heavily dominated market.
What are Fashbae's largest points of difference?
Fashbae's usability is one of its largest points of difference. We spent ten months planning the website; asking users what they wanted, running user group sessions and bringing in a number of user-experience developers to design the interface. This has resulted in a website with brilliant usability; allowing buyers to quickly find what they are looking for, or sellers to list an item between 20-30 seconds.
Fashbae is also completely free to trade items. No commission or success fees are charged, and there is no cost to list.
What makes Fashbae stand out from already established corporations such as TradeMe, eBay or Amazon?
Fashbae is solely focused on trading fashion. This has allowed us to focus the website's design and functionally specifically for this.
For example, trading platforms which cater for all item categories often have a longer and more complicated user journey. With fashion, you need to be able to filter by brand, colour, size, condition, item type and so on – other categories may need filters such as make and model, materials used etc. Having all of the different filters and categories throughout one website results in a longer user journey to find what you are looking for, but with Fashbae you can dive straight into it and find exactly what you want within seconds as the filters are site-wide and fashion-specific.
Do you think you're entering a market that is already heavily dominated or do you feel secure in your business?
Marketplace websites are nothing new, however there is often something missing from other platforms. The difference here is we understand what it is our users want, and what they found missing from other platforms. We then worked with this to create Fashbae. It's also rare to find a marketplace website designed around just one industry – Fashbae can utilise certain functionality which helps to trade all things fashion.
Having such incredible growth from launch clearly shows there is a demand in the market.
Would you consider your web store a success so far?
We launched Fashbae on the 15th of December 2016, so almost two months ago exactly! We had planned a soft launch, where we could control numbers and adapt the website based on how the first few members found the platform. However, the website went viral when we launched and thousands of members signed up! At the time the marketing team were working part-time and remotely with it being the Christmas period, and I was actually in India! It was crazy, but fabulous!
So yes, successful so far!
What is the process of establishing a web store?
There is a lot of work that goes into starting an online marketplace, however I would say the biggest thing is identifying what's missing from the market. For us, it was that Kiwi's wanted to have a website where they could solely trade fashion safely and easily, but also at no cost. Understanding what your members want is always the most important thing. A lot of people will dive in head first and design a website around what they what. You have to remember that want you what is not necessarily always what everyone else wants.
Is launching a web store costly?
Everything in business costs money. You typically have to spend money to make money. However, launching a website comes at a lower cost than launching an actual store, and the overheads are always a lot lower too. The majority of cost in launching an actual store is the development of the website. Luckily, with my background being in website development I understood what was required and therefore we could cut out the cost of bringing on a project manager to do so.
Tell me about your business model, how do you profit?
Like all modern platforms we benefit from high traffic. Similar to Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, the platform is free for the user and then further down the line we benefit from advertising. With such high user-ship numbers, advertisers will get in front of a lot of eyeballs, without detracting from their experience
Can you give me any numbers regarding items sold or revenue?
This year we are really just focusing on membership growth, not revenue. In terms of website growth we have 40,000 active users on Fashbae now and have only been live two months. We have had up to 2,500 sign ups on one day alone.
On Facebook we have 36,000 followers from the past two months. We run competitions each week... these competitions can reach out to over one million Kiwi's quite often.
Do you have any advice for other young entrepreneurs?
To other young entrepreneurs I would recommend they follow their instincts on what they feel is right. Often in life, especially once you leave school and are in your early twenties, you have to make a lot of life-impacting decisions. Should you go to University, should you travel, should you start a business, or whatever it may be. People will give you advise on what to do from their own life experiences, but what you should try to remember is that you make your own path. Whatever decision you make will always open up a number of new opportunities. Typically in life you know your decision before you ask for advice, you're just waiting for someone to tell you it’s a good idea. Follow your instincts, and take a risk.