Twice Sets Up Online Clothing Exchange in the Heart of San Francisco (Video)
Here’s something you don’t often come across in San Francisco — a brand-new e-commerce start-up with a huge warehouse-office right in town.
I visited online clothing exchange Twice this week, which just launched in March and says it may have hit on a formula that offers better customer service and convenience than its competitors without adding cost.
Unlike some other online clothing exchanges, Twice is an intermediary, rather than a peer-to-peer service. It sends women shipping labels to send in their boxes of quality used clothing, takes nice photos of the items and posts them online, and then sells them for about three times the price (which is the industry standard), with free returns.
The company pays just $0.85 per square foot for its 6,500 square-foot warehouse in between San Francisco’s Mission and Potrero neighborhoods, so that helps. It has a staff of 12, plus part-time workers.
The folks behind Twice didn’t start the company because of their own personal passion for women’s clothing — they’re just two Silicon Valley dudes who wear socks with sandals and dropped out of their Google jobs to do a start-up.
At first, founders Noah Ready-Campbell and Calvin Young tried a micropayments start-up called Minno and later BuySimple, for which they raised $600,000 from investors like Jack Abraham of Milo, Farhad Mohit of Shopzilla and GRP Partners. But that didn’t work, so they looked for other ideas.
Today, Ready-Campbell and Young told me they justify their personal affinity for Twice by recalling that they both grew up without much money, so they had lots of personal experience with hand-me-downs.
They’ve now hired the clothes buying trainer from Crossroads Trading Co. in San Francisco, and have seeded the service by giving coupons to discount fashion bloggers.
Young, the company’s only engineer, built custom inventory management tools that are highly automated and do things like automatically process the photos of new pieces of clothing.
It may be too early to judge Twice, especially considering there’s quite a bit of competition, but at least they have an angle.
Ready-Campbell told me, “I don’t think P2P is the right way to go as a start-up, because what drives a marketplace is liquidity, and you’re going to sell at a higher price sooner with an intermediary.”
He showed off the Twice space in the video below. Look for the color-coded hangers (green means good), and the constant flashes from new item photos.