Modern society feels pressed for time, as people look for the fastest and most efficient ways to accomplish their tasks. Where two-day shipping for online orders once seemed fast, same-day delivery appeals to consumers too. When it comes to buying, do shoppers want their buying experience taking place even faster?
Tophatter thinks the answer is yes. Its platform brings forth a continual flow of products on display. Buyers must bid quickly lest their desired item goes to a more aggressive bid. Auctions last a mere 90 seconds.
Tophatter’s Sree Menon runs strategy and global operations for the company. She told EcommerceBytes, “What differentiates Tophatter is Discovery. Nearly 100% of items purchased are based on product recommendations as opposed to a search query. In this way, we’re much more like Netflix than we are like Amazon.”
“Shoppers open the Tophatter app and 100-200 live auctions are happening right before their eyes. They jump right in, instead of searching. As a seller, those are your products being featured on our main page to thousands of shoppers. That’s something other marketplaces don’t do.”
The model’s success depends on buyers embracing the speedy aspect of bidding and winning. “Attention spans are getting shorter and shoppers want instant gratification. The 7 day wait to win an auction on eBay or the more traditional ecommerce experience of a buy-now purchase is not as fun or exciting for many people,” Menon said.
Tophatter claims the model offers the volume sellers need for success. “This year we’ll generate over $500 million in GMV for sellers across our various categories: jewelry, electronics, home decor, apparel, and collectibles. Professional sellers and brands on Tophatter are generating $1 million – $10 million per year in sales on Tophatter alone. Without question, volume is the number one advantage any ecommerce seller is looking for today,” said Menon. Top sellers are offered an account manager as a phone contact, enhancing the support aspect of the site.
With the speed of the auction process, we wanted to know how Tophatter handles the always difficult prospect of bogus branded items. The company takes the positions ecommerce pros expect to hear. “We have a customer-friendly return policy for buyers and a zero tolerance on counterfeit items policy for sellers. Our Trust & Safety team follows robust processes including requiring proof of purchase or license for branded items from sellers to ensure that these are genuine.”
Menon also noted, “We limit many sellers from selling brands given their geography and the high likelihood of their products being counterfeit. We also close the loop with customers to ensure they receive what they purchased. This is an area we continue to invest in as ecommerce becomes increasingly global.”
One caveat as noted in the Tophatter FAQ: the platform is suited for established businesses or brands with $1 million-plus in annual revenue, and handle shipping themselves.