An explosion in consumer interest over recent years concerning exclusive, limited-run, branded product has resulted in an increased demand for the rare and hard-to-find, and a surge in growth of the secondary resell market that specializes in the transfer of these types of product. Fuelled by mass global use of social media platforms and the connectivity of the internet, exposure and accessibility to the wares available within this once niche segment has expanded exponentially. And, recognizing Canada as one of the major centres of growth and culture within the space, StockX recently announced the opening of its first Canadian authentication centre in Toronto.
An online marketplace featuring an impressive array of categories that include products from brands like Supreme, BAPE, Balenciaga, Off White, and many others, StockX is rapidly expanding. Touting itself as the “stock market of things”, it’s quickly becoming the go-to source for all items difficult-to-obtain. And, supported by an innovative authentication process in which the company and its people act as the facilitator and arbiter between buyers and sellers, the legitimacy of the products available on its website is always guaranteed. It’s an approach and strategy that’s reaped early rewards for the company, and is one that Greg Schwartz, COO of StockX, describes as the creation of a marketplace environment that enables a seamless, transparent and trustworthy experience for all.
A Different Kind of Marketplace Experience
“The hypotheses behind the idea of StockX was to develop an online marketplace that leverages stock market mechanics in order to create a more powerful buying and selling platform and e-commerce model for consumers,” he says. “When we looked at sneakers, which was the first product that we offered, we recognized deficiencies in the other marketplaces and platforms that were selling the same products. Buyers on the other platforms were never quite sure who they were buying from. The discrepancy in prices paid by customers was chasmic. And, some people might receive authentic product, while others would unfortunately receive counterfeit product. These are things that you don’t need to consider when buying a share of stock in a company. We wanted to borrow a lot of the principles from the world’s capital markets, which have been the most powerful forms of commerce for hundreds of years, and apply them to consumer goods.”
Launched in Detroit in early 2017, StockX has since quickly expanded its presence globally with authentication and distribution centres located throughout parts of North America and Europe, serving customers in more than 200 countries. And, in line with its tremendous expansion, it also broadened its product categories to include luxury and limited-edition streetwear, electronics, collectibles, accessories, and more. Valued today at more than US$1-billion, the company continues its rise and success, attracting more interest from an ever-widening segment of fans of what Schwartz calls the ‘relevant current culture’. It’s success that he attributes to the brand that StockX has managed to build around a model that’s gaining traction every day.
“On StockX, we offer incredible transparency of data for the user,” he asserts. “Each single product page displays all of the supply and demand and historical pricing history for that product. It aids both the buyers and sellers in making informed decisions about the products in question. And because we sit in the middle of every transaction, we’re able to validate the condition and authenticity of the products, taking a lot of the friction out of the process, creating a unique experience for the customer.”
Verified Expert Authentication
Transactions on StockX are not too dissimilar to those that occur on other marketplaces, in which sellers of items post them on the StockX website and await potential buyers to place bids on those items. What sets it apart, however, differentiating its offering from just about every one of its competitors on the online marketplace landscape is the authentication process that takes place once an item has been successfully bid on by a customer. Within two business days following the transaction on StockX, the seller of the product ships it to one of the company’s authentication centres where it is subject to a rigorous expert review concerning its condition and authenticity. And upon authentication and approval, the product is shipped to the buyer and funds are released to the seller.
The authentication process is at the core of the experience that StockX provides for its users. Leveraging a robust database of proprietary information, machine learning and a team of authenticators possessing a breadth of experience and expertise with respect to the items examined, each product undergoes a thorough inspection which involves multiple points of review, including the inspection of original product packaging among other things. And to further ensure the authenticity of the item for the buyer and to provide validation of the process through which products are subjected to, every shipment from StockX authentication centres includes one of the company’s ‘Verified Authentic’ tags, each containing a code unique to the individual item they are shipped with.
In addition to the verification of each item that passes through its website, another key differentiator of the StockX offering is the simple fact that it provides a platform that helps make these often limited-edition, difficult-to-find, sometimes completely obscure products accessible to a mass audience and community around the world. It’s a way in which those within the community are benefitting. And for Canadian StockX users, the opening of the company’s Toronto authentication centre means even more, allowing the company to introduce ‘All in Pricing’ for Canadian consumers, significantly reducing fees that would, until now, be incurred related to import duties and other shipping charges. And, because the centre serves to increase local supply within the country, Canadian sellers and buyers are connected where possible, resulting in even lower shipping fees and shorter shipping times for buyers, and reduced shipping costs and faster payouts for sellers. It’s a development that Schwartz says StockX are excited and pleased to announce, providing greater service and a better experience for its Canadian customers on the heels of impressive growth within the country.
“We’ve got an incredibly passionate group of users in Canada,” he asserts, pointing out that the growth of sales from Canadian sellers increased by 155% in 2020 from the previous year. “The introduction of the Toronto authentication centre allows us to continue growing the market in a city and country that we consider to be one of the cultural hubs within this segment and create a duty-free marketplace for Canadians to buy and sell product. It removes further friction for the end-user in the country, creating a more seamless experience from checkout to the receipt of goods. We’re excited by the potential that our presence in Canada represents and the opportunities for us to further deepen our relationship with the Canadian consumer.”
Further Growth and Expansion
The opening of the Toronto authentication centre is just one of three new locations to be launched by the company this quarter and is a reflection of the dynamic opportunities that exist within the global resale market going forward. And, according to Schwartz, they are opportunities that the company, by virtue of its unique model, are well-positioned to capitalize on as it continues to forge ahead with aggressive plans for further growth and expansion.
“International expansion is a major priority for StockX. We have active users all over the world, and expanding our presence will allow us to offer faster delivery times and a more localized end-to-end experience for our customers in core markets. With respect to product categories, we’ve expanded our offering from what was originally sneakers to include more of what users of StockX are interested in. And we’ll continue to expand those categories wherever it makes sense. But, despite the ways in which we might be expanding, our focus and efforts are always directed toward continuing to provide customers with an incredible experience throughout their interactions with us, and investing in innovations in our supply chain and platform to help support those great experiences.”