I reached out late last week to see if I could get a meeting with Poshmark, as indicated in my last post. After reaching out to Manish he connected me to Nyzelle, Community Development Specialist. They acted within hours of me reaching out, which was wonderful!
Nyzelle and I met on Monday evening via Zoom and spoke for about 40 minutes. She was gracious and open and answered my questions directly and honestly. For everyone who feels you’re not being heard – you really are!!
Below is a summary of what we talked about.
Search: What changed and how do we pivot to accommodate?
Relevance: Poshmark is working on how to return more relevant listings when users search within the app. The search algorithms are very complicated, especially when you have multiple filters being used as the default. While Just Shared is the default, they are also working on Relevance. We all know how frustrating it is when we search for something specific and there is a closet that hasn’t been active since 2019 pop-up. Their developers are working on ways to shove inactive closets way down in the search results in addition to looking at other ways of handling inactive closets.
One of the other items we’ve been seeing is, when we search for something very specific (such as if we’re searching for comps) the search returns some wonky stuff. At one point I did a search for “Anthropologie wide leg linen pants” and I got a few at the top of my search but it quickly devolved into tops, necklaces, etc. It makes it hard to find comps!
As a person who works in the software development world, I can tell you firsthand how difficult it is to work with data and search functions (data = closets & listings). You try one thing, another breaks, you try another and it breaks something else. This is an extremely complicated undertaking but they have heard us and are working on Relevance, specifically inactive closets. No word of deactivating old closets.
Simple Search: Poshmark has been open about the fact that they have changed search results to make the user experience easier to find items while they’re in the app, so they have implemented some simple search features to assist. This has complicated things with SEO and searching for comps. Nyzelle and I talked about strategies for working with this and I will post a new write-up by the end of the week about how to both retain SEO and satisfy simple search. This will not be going away however they will continue to tweak. This is our new normal, but there are ways to work around it that are actually quite simple and effective. The best news is this won’t be a drastic change or require tons of work to fix in your closets so everyone can relax a bit. There are admittedly also still some issues with search. I was assured this is the highest priority and they are working on fixing it.
One cool new feature that I wasn’t personally aware of is that the simple search phrasing works not just with the title but with your descriptions! So, if you have a title that’s fully SEO’d it shouldn’t be affected by simple search. If you have the search phrase in your listing description** the search engine will find it and send your listing to the searcher. For example, if you have a listing title that says, “David Yurman Citrine On Point Cable Silver Ring w/ Diamonds 20mm” you can add a different phrase in your description that says “Sterling Silver Citrine ring” and it will send your listing out if someone uses that phrase to search.
**Important Note: This does not mean that you should keyword stuff your listings!!! I’m sure you’ve all seen listings that have a ton of keywords at the bottom of the description; that’s “keyword stuffing”. Please do not do this. Keyword stuffing actually penalizes your closet in the SEO realm. Nyzelle and I spoke about this and she confirmed this is a practice that needs to stop. Search engines are programmed to ignore pages (our listings) that do this and it will not help you in the Poshmark search engine. It’s a pretty negative practice. If you SEO your listings and are descriptive of the item this is sufficient and your listings will be found.
Testing – Group A & Group B Clarification
While on the Fireside Chat, Tracy mentioned how they used two groups, Group A (control group) and Group B (test group). The community felt like there was some ambiguity and there was concern about whether they were testing these changes on live closets – myself included.
This was simply a misunderstanding and was not stated correctly in the Fireside Chat.
They did test on live closets however the people who were testers knew about it and had a mechanism to report any issues they were experiencing. Testing happened over a year ago!! Poshmark’s software development lifecycle (the way they program) is quite robust and they are doing things “the right way,” so we can all relax about that one.
This also means, for all of you stating, “I want to be taken out of the test group!” This isn’t a thing… Everyone has the changes already (since February) and no one is singled-out, they’re not in specific groups, there is no shadow banning, and there are no offline or shadow servers that people get stuck on. These are all conspiracy theories that have arisen in the community and in groups and it’s wildly incorrect. If anyone is interested in hearing how software platforms are set up and the infrastructure (servers) to run a platform let me know and I’ll be happy to do a post on it.
Ambassador 2: How has this Affected our Closets?
For some of my long-time followers and people who have been on the platform since the original Ambassador program rolled out, you may remember when we saw a similar slow-down at the beginning. (I explain it here.) It is my hypothesis that Ambassador 2 has resulted in a similar slow-down and that we should see basically the same trend as in 2017. Since we are three months in I will be closely tracking the next three to confirm.
The whole purpose of the PA2 program is to create sales for us, to drive traffic to our closets. There are a lot of people who are concerned their new followers are new users – but this means the algorithms are doing their job, not that you’re not getting quality followers. The whole idea behind it is to decrease our amount of hustle so that we can let the platform bring the sales to us.
Another community concern is the requirements for keeping PA2. Many of you are concerned about losing it since sales have been slow – the 50 sales benchmark is daunting for those who have decreased sales. Nyzelle told me that if you’re reaching the end of the quarter, have met all the other requirements but are missing on the number of sales you can reach out to PM support to get a manual review. Their goal is not to penalize people if they have a bad quarter – they want us to succeed, and they can manually override you losing it.
The good news is that we are now on the upswing and everything is rebounding. People are seeing increases in sales and closet traffic, engagement from new people, lots of follows and shares. With OG Ambassador we saw sales rebounding around about month 3-4 and everyone was back in full swing around month 6, so I am hoping we see a similar trend. As a reminder, the Ambassador algorithms send traffic to your closet based on what you’re selling. When new users come on board PA2 will promote your closet to them if your items match their My Size & brand follows. PA2’s are also promoted to established closets the same way. We also benefit from extra perks. You can find details here on the PA2 program.
One item confirmed is that Poshmark is recommending plain, white backgrounds for pictures. This makes a lot of sense because this is what search engines “like” also. Clear pictures of your item are like candy to a search engine so if you’re using SEO & implement this for your photos you should be a happy camper. This doesn’t mean you have to go change every listing in your closet, although you can if you want. You can phase this in with new listings if that’s a big challenge for existing listings. For all of you who spend tons of time editing, putting borders on and text of the brands, this is hurting you. Go back to the basics: well-lit, plain background, clean, crisp photos.
Just make sure your for sale items are…how do I say this?…relevant. Check the trend reports, see what’s selling and act accordingly. If you’re a person who has worked really hard and hasn’t had any luck be super honest with yourself. Are your items dated and are the styles those that people want to buy right now? Are your items of good quality? Are your photos great? Are you including measurements in your listings? If you have a whole lot of 10-year-old Maurices items, wrinkly, faded Old Navy, or mall brand items from 2010, chances are that’s a big part of your problem. Have a very clear vision of who your buyer is!
What does this all mean?
All of these feature rollouts along with Ambassador 2 have created somewhat of a perfect storm that’s slowed everyone’s sales (not to mention, we are still in a pandemic).
Summarized, here is what we’ve been dealing with since February:
- Changes in search by adding simple search
- Flip-flop in search from Relevance being the default to Just Shared being the default
- Tweaks to include Relevance as a second filter
- Ambassador 2 program rollout
That’s a lot! It’s no wonder sales have wigged-out!
We ended our conversation talking about the frustrations of the community, one of the most frustrating being that Poshmarkers don’t have any visibility into what’s happening or what’s coming, and that we have no time to prepare for changes. I explained to her how the lack of transparency, especially with major changes that we’ve had this year, is causing a lot of discord, creating mistrust, and leading to these wild rumors and conspiracy theories in the community – because we have nothing that’s telling us otherwise. Nyzelle agreed. They are hearing us and will try to give everyone a heads-up in the future when changes are happening.
Poshmark is also having internal discussions about ways to increase community engagement and has heard the community – truly. I cannot share with you specific plans, but they have some exciting things coming in the future that will ensure sellers have everything they need, will be doing more education, will implement more transparency, and are planning ways for more engagement between PMHQ and the community.
Long story short, while everyone is blaming search for their problems it’s actually the PA2 rollout that’s decreased sales. This doesn’t mean you should run to PM asking them to remove your PA2 status, because I can tell you from firsthand experience, when it kicks in you will get tons of traffic and increased sales. My sales have gone way up in the last couple of weeks which is a pleasant surprise and I’ve had many saying theirs are rebounding too. This will happen for you too!
I left the call feeling very encouraged. Nyzelle was open, honest, informed, and answered every, single question with full transparency. I really appreciated that! I’ve shared with you what I can but we left the call with plans to stay in touch and have future calls. I know it sounds like I’m drinking the Kool-Aid but, quite frankly, they are a robust company that is approaching these problems quite seriously and I’m super encouraged by what I was told. They realize how upset the community is and they are taking steps to solve these problems.
In the meantime, remember what I said above – you should start to see increased traffic if you haven’t already. If your closet is complete crickets you can reach out to PMHQ Support to see if anything is wrong, but if you stay active (share, follow, list, like, buy) you will see the same coming back to you – this is social commerce, after all! Don’t be afraid to change up your routine for a week or tweak the way you’re listing to see if you can stimulate new traffic, and if it works, keep it up. Remember: Poshmark is a social commerce platform, so the more active you are, the more active your closet will be! Feel free to message me with any questions by commenting below.
Hang in there Posh Fam! I know this has been hard but I’m extremely encouraged by what’s coming.