February 15th, 2017
This is a Q & A with Sen Sugano, VP of Marketing at GOAT, the massively popular sneaker marketplace on mobile. GOAT’s rise in a multi-billion dollar industry wasn’t an accident, as the company found ways to achieve fast growth for their mobile app. In fact, GOAT’s stellar growth has attracted much interest from investors, including a recently closed $25M funding round.
As a longtime partner with Branch, GOAT’s app is a premier example for how eCommerce companies can drive a big following and revenue by placing an emphasis on mobile app marketing. Read the Q&A below to find out what’s behind GOAT’s huge app success and how they reached 1.5M users worldwide in less than two years with an AOV of $330 USD.
Branch: Tell us about GOAT.
Sen Sugano: We founded GOAT in 2015 as a way to solve the issue of fakes in the sneaker resale industry. We estimate that over 10% of sneakers that are resold are replicas. This is a staggering number and very concerning for consumers looking to purchase rare sneakers like the Yeezy Boost 350 ‘Turtle Doves,’ which go for upwards of $2,500.
Unlike traditional marketplaces, such as eBay, we vet all sellers and require them to ship their sneakers to our warehouse once they sell, so they can be verified authentic and as described by our trained specialists. We call it the “ship-to-verify” marketplace model, which we pioneered. If the sneakers are found to be replicas or not as described, we offer a full refund to the buyer immediately. With this model, the seller can keep their sneakers until they sell and we don’t have to worry about holding any inventory.
Branch: How did the idea behind the company surface?
Sen Sugano: Our co-founder, Daishin, purchased a pair of Air Jordan 5 Grapes on eBay, but they ended up being fake. The Jumpman logo on the tongue, the production dates on the tag and even the box label typeface were incorrect. After going back and forth with the seller for weeks, he eventually decided the effort to get his money back wasn’t worth the stress and time. We built GOAT to solve this exact issue and to make the sneaker resale market both safe and hassle-free.
Branch: What’s the vision behind it?
Sen Sugano: Our vision is to create an alternative to eBay that is both safe and secure when buying and selling sneakers. This is why we vet all of our sellers and verify all sneakers to ensure they are authentic and as described. This model protects both sides of the market.
Branch: What makes GOAT so special?
Sen Sugano: Aside from our “ship-to-verify” marketplace model, we also reduced the friction points seen in traditional marketplaces like eBay. When you open the app, we provide a very consistent retail-like experience. We only show the lowest price for each size of a specific sneaker style, so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of listings of the same product. It makes buying much simpler and the trust is there, since we verify the sneakers will be authentic and as described.
Branch: It looks like GOAT has both a website and a mobile app, but puts more focus on the latter, what’s the thought behind this strategy?
Sen Sugano: When we started in 2015, consumers were already shifting to mobile for purchasing and this was especially true for millennials, our target demographic. According to the Global Web Index in 2015, 42% of millennials had bought a product on their phones and that percentage was increasing rapidly.
In addition to this consumer shift, we realized we could provide a much better user experience on mobile than on web. For example, members can create Wants and get notified via pushes as soon as their sneakers get listed for sale or there is a price drop. Members can also place offers to get the sneaker they want at a price that is right for them. This gives them the flexibility to purchase on the go, saving both time and money.
Branch: Did you run into any challenges or roadblocks to grow the GOAT app? What about keeping app users engaged?
Sen Sugano: When we initially started, we were constantly balancing sellers (supply) and buyers (demand). We slowly grew a devout network of sellers, who would share their products through social with deep links to the app to purchase. Buyers quickly followed, since our prices were competitive with eBay and we offered a free verification service for all purchases. Fast forward to today and we’re now at 1.5M members worldwide. Since the spring of 2016, we’ve also grown GMV 10x with an AOV of $330 USD.
To keep these members engaged, we rely on mostly targeted pushes and emails with deep links powered by Branch. This ensures that when they tap or click on any link, we get them to where they need to go, regardless of the device they are on.
Branch: How did you hear about Branch and when did you start using it?
Sen Sugano: I was initially researching referral programs and saw how Postmates integrated Branch, so I reached out for more info. Although we never initiated a referral program, we have been using Branch for emails and social sharing.
Branch: How are you using Branch?
Sen Sugano: We use Branch for all of our social sharing through our app, including products, photos and content. We also use Branch for emails, so when the recipient taps or clicks, we can get them to the right screen or page. And of course, if they’re on mobile and don’t have the app installed yet, we can take them to the App Store or Play Store to download with a smooth experience.
Branch: What were the results like? Any numbers you could share related to click-to-install rate, engagement, and in-app conversion or purchase rate?
Sen Sugano: Based on the last 90 days, our click-to-install rate on our website is 40%, but on social outlets, such as Twitter and Instagram, it’s as high as 48%.
Branch: How would you recommend Branch to another app?
Sen Sugano: Branch provides a seamless deep link experience, skipping the App Store for members who already have the app installed and sending them directly to the screen they want to be on. Branch also helps us juggle mobile and web, sending our members directly to where they need to go depending on the device they’re using at any given time. Because of this, our conversion rates continue to increase month over month and we could not be happier with the results using Branch.
We highly encourage you to check out the GOAT app at: https://goat.app.link, follow them on Twitter and Instagram to experience the smooth deep link flow; and of course, get that dream pair of sneakers you’ve always wanted!