Vinted is a European online C2C marketplace and app dedicated to secondhand fashion. It encourages circular fashion and more responsible ways of consumption. Vinted boasts more than 34 million users and relies on a growing community in Europe (France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom) and the USA. It also recently debuted in Italy reaching its 13th market while counting 500 employees, constantly growing with offices in Berlin, Utrecht and Prague. Its main market is France with 12.5 million users. The European start-up is head-quartered in Vilnius.
Vinted was founded in Lithuania in 2008 by Milda Mitkuté and Justas Janauskas and attracted investments from different American venture capital funds (Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Insight Venture Partners) and European ones (Burda Principal Investments and Sprints Capital), plus other shareholders including Thomas Plantega, CEO, Vinted. In 2019 it reached its GMV (gross merchandise volume) of €1.3 billion, and expects to grow further in 2020.
Only in Europe Vinted’s catalog offers over 180 million items available for sale and includes womenswear, menswear and kidswear.
Thomas Plantenga, Vinted’s CEO, explained some key aspects of this platform.
How did you manage the expansion of Vinted?
It was not a straight line up. When Milda [Mitkuté] first founded this platform it started as an organic company, but it didn’t have a business plan behind it. In 2016 when I joined the company we changed it and made it free for people to sell and we started earning some money from advertising and extra value added service as we offer a very cheap shipping and ask buyers a 5% fee so they get shipping discounts and safety shipping.
Practically for all of our users there are no costs and thereby we established a model of high trust values, high liquidity and practically no costs for users. That’s how it started to grow again and set that change first in Germany and France.
In France we grew very fast and we really optimized that model and how it grew so we implemented it in Belgium and the Netherlands, which are nearby countries with similar aspects. Then we moved to Poland and Spain. Now we are coming to Italy, an exciting step for us, as it’s a fashion-savvy market with significant potential for consumers. And we are also having a big change in Germany that’s practically our international group and also we are growing very well in Poland.
Is Vinted also working as a social network?
An enormous strength in our platform is that users communicate with each other and care for each other, share information and discuss how to trade best on Vinted. And what works nicely are people following people of whom they like how they style the products they sell.
How does it work if I want to sell clothes?
You have your closet where you show pictures of the products you start selling. These products get reviews that come up in your profile that starts to be followed by people who like you. The more you sell, the better reviews you get, the more followers you get and the faster you sell.
Looking at society we start realizing the consumption model we have right now is unsustainable. When you buy something in a shop which is nice and cheap but after a couple of times you have worn it you are going to abandon it. This is very unsustainable and it’s very hard to live with it. We try to make sustainable consumption as easy as possible instead of throwing away something you don’t want to wear anymore you can sell it. We try to make this industry more circular and we try to do it to practically compete on an easiness level. For instance, as it’s very hard to convince yourself to pay a higher price for products that are produced sustainably so we try to help with this alternative behavior to ensure we lengthen the lifetime and reduce the waste.
How did you face the pandemic times and how did consumers react to it?
We really see that people value this service not only from a financial perspective but also feel they are doing something useful with their clothing. In these times of pandemic, when the first wave came there was a lot of panic among governments and scientists, so we decided to stop our service in France and Belgium for four weeks and in Spain for eight weeks as we wanted to be extra safe and didn’t want to take any risk in the community. When we figured out how to face the situation with our shipping partners we went back to operating and saw volumes growing back. During this pandemic people are at home and are more careful about money. So it’s nice they can resell some clothing and become aware of the fragility of our ecosystem and humanity, and become aware we should be careful and act sustainably. So these three elements–the shift to online, financial insecurity and a more sustainable mindset–made us actually grow faster. And then when the second wave came we had all the shipping ready to be completely safe, all the guidelines that let people trade safe and at the same time we grew through the second Corona wave.