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COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation at an astronomical rate. Globally, companies are increasingly adopting cloud services for data storage, automation tools and several other AI-powered technologies at a rapid pace.
No single industry is precluded from this rise in digitization, with many CEOs across the globe agreeing last year that digital transformation will spur an economic boom, according to a survey by Gartner. The resale luxury industry is rapidly embracing digital transformation.
An article published in McKinsey said industry watchers predict that the rise of digital trading platforms and changes in consumer behavior will cause an annual growth rate of 10% to 15% over the next decade in the resale luxury market — a market already estimated between $25 billion and $30 billion in 2020. ThredUp’s 2021 Resale Report provides a broader context to the resale industry, with projections that the secondhand market will grow two-fold in the next five years, reaching $77 billion.
Flyp, a San Francisco-based company attempting to decentralize ecommerce, says it’s now using AI to provide analytics, easy access to inventory, free automation tools and business intelligence to help thousands of power sellers to grow their resale businesses. James Kawas, cofounder and CEO of Flyp, told VentureBeat that Flyp uses AI at its core, building on many layers of proprietary data that enables power sellers to automate their businesses in a fast and cost-effective manner.
McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2022 Report reveals that changing category landscapes, new digital frontiers and advances in sustainability continue to present new opportunities in the fashion industry, especially as the industry recovers from the revenue decline of previous years. Online business models have continued to flourish in the apparel industry, with hyper-interactive digital environments and investment in ecommerce increasingly becoming the leitmotifs of brands that are pushing on fashion frontiers, according to the report.
Power sellers — top-rated resellers who maintain a large sales volume across various marketplaces — continue to be dominant players in the apparel resale market. Kawas said Flyp wants to help more people become resellers, noting that with about 350,000 power sellers in the US, resellers make significant contributions to sustainability in the US by giving another life to used products, ensuring they don’t go to waste.
“We’re exclusively focusing on power sellers in the resale industry. We built Flyp to offer different products and services for these power sellers, enabling them to find inventory and resell products so that they can grow their businesses at a fast pace. Our AI-enabled platform allows them to use a bunch of free software tools to sell across different marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark all at once,” said Dani Arnaout, cofounder and CTO at Flyp.
Kawas said Flyp empowers resellers with free automation tools that help them monitor, manage, and execute orders all in one platform. According to Kawas, most resellers have had to manually sell thousands of items across different marketplaces or employ the services of assistants in the past. Kawas said Flyp has a feature called “Crosslister” that eliminates the need to hire an assistant, enabling resellers to send automated responses to orders and manage inventory across marketplaces.
He also said Flyp’s unique built-in analytics capabilities pull resellers’ sales from different marketplaces, providing them with accurate information on their profits, what is the most profitable thing for them, what are the best categories and brands for them and many more.
Flyp’s team of engineers is also leveraging AI to help resellers find things to resell, according to Kawas. The team built a matching system that crawls sellers’ profiles on eBay and Poshmark, aggregates information on the exact products they are looking for and automatically searches for the right places to get them. The system’s algorithms also match sellers to that inventory, either from consumers — like people who have it in their closets but don’t want to sell it directly — or from businesses who have extra inventory that they can deal with.
Kawas said this AI-powered matching system has enabled Flyp to send upwards of $6 million worth of goods to sellers, allowing product owners and businesses to also earn via a commission-based model.
While there are several inventory management tools and multichannel selling platforms today, Kawas said they were not built with the resellers of used goods in mind. Most ecommerce automation tools today are designed for shops selling new items on Amazon or Shopify, neglecting the resale market — a market which Kawas said is growing 11 times faster than the retail market.
“No one has catered to these resellers because they’re away from sights and from the headlines. They’re not very [well] known. We know them because we spent many years working with them,” said Kawas. “In reality, there has been much infrastructure built for ecommerce automation over the past 10 to 20 years. What we’re doing at Flyp is bringing those types of software automation tools to the secondhand market.”
He added that Flyp’s biggest differentiator in today’s ecommerce automation industry is its specific focus on the resellers of used goods. Kawas also said another differentiator is that Flyp gives anyone access to automation tools at zero cost.
“Those who typically invest in ecommerce automation are big companies that make hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue monthly because ecommerce automation is expensive. Our free, easy-to-navigate AI-enabled platform allows individual, small and mid-sized businesses operated by people like stay-at-home moms and college students to run their resale businesses effectively,” he added.
What to expect from Flyp
Kawas said there are plans to grow and add more features to the Flyp platform. The company has raised $4.5 million in total to date in oversubscribed rounds, with increasing interest for further funding from commerce enablement focused VCs, a theme that has been growing drastically since last year.
Flyp has a current headcount of 12 — most of whom have worked in different areas of the resale market and the gig economy industry — and expects to triple that number in the next 12 months.
“We have over 14,000 power seller businesses signed up, with a huge waitlist, and we are expecting tens of thousands more to join us. We’re excited to be a force for good in the resale gig economy by empowering individual resellers — the most crucial drivers of the resale economy,” said Kawas.
Both Forbes 30 under 30 honorees, Kawas and Arnaout cofounded Flyp in 2019.