How Shopfront is using AI to simplify the second-hand seller experience

How Shopfront is using AI to simplify the second-hand seller experience

Shopfront co-founders Drew Flaherty and Nathan Spiteri (Provided).

A Melbourne-based start-up using artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the seller experience has secured $225,000 in pre-seed funding from Antler as it looks to add new features that will allow users to list second-hand goods on major marketplaces like eBay, Depop and Etsy from its single platform.

Founded in 2024 by Nathan Spiteri and Drew Flaherty, Shopfront allows users to upload an image of an item for sale, remove distracting backgrounds and add condition details about the goods.

The start-up is also developing a feature that will allow users to list it on multiple marketplaces such as eBay, Depop and Etsy from the single platform. Once the listing is sold, the remaining posts will automatically be removed from other online storefronts.

Speaking with Business News Australia, Spiteri explains how the platform uses AI to streamline the listing process for sellers.

“What we do is use AI tools to get an item e-commerce ready. What I mean by that is remove backgrounds and fix the imagery to get it to a point where it can be displayed on an e-commerce website,” he says.

“We also use AI to track whether the condition is right, define the condition, pick up the brands, and estimate the price - all those sorts of details. That's what we tested through our MVP. We were getting quite a bit of organic traffic because we realised people are always searching for things that can do background removal, identify products and test new applications of AI.

“It's a nice entry point for our products, where we can make it light and fast for people to create listings through the use of AI. The idea is that you would be able to drop a couple of photos in, let the AI create the listing details and get the image of content ready. Then once you've connected all your accounts, we can get that distributed to those marketplaces in a matter of seconds.”

Shopfront plans to have three subscription tiers available, the first being a free tier that allows users to access 25 background removals and five listings per month, as well as access to community support. The ‘starter’ tier increases background removals and listings to 100 and 25 per month respectively, while the ‘business’ tier gives users limited background removals and 100 listings per month.

While the platform allows users to list a range of products, Spiteri notes the initial idea was to focus on circular fashion and create a single marketplace.

“The initial spark came from second-hand fashion, but through validation, we actually spoke to collectible sellers, furniture sellers, and identified that there's the same need, same problem and that the same solution would work in those industries as well…the product is completely applicable to every other vertical of unique goods,” he says.

“As we started speaking to sellers, they weren't actually aware that platforms like this could exist. the reason that they weren't listing on multiple platforms was because it did take so long to create just one listing. They all have their preferred marketplace to list on, because of who's on that marketplace and because of the process to get listed. If you could streamline that process, obviously people would be listed across more marketplaces.

“Another pain point we identified with listing on multiple marketplaces was the fact that if it sells on one, then how do you take it off the other? That's a manual process that you have to look after. We actually do that as well. So we constantly trace every product that's listed via us, and once it's sold on one platform, we do the delisting from the other platforms. Shopfront mitigates that risk for you.”

Having only known each other for about four months, the co-founders hit the ground running with developing the platform, initially meeting when Spiteri approached accelerator program Antler with his idea for a circular fashion marketplace in February.

Since changing concepts, Spiteri has been engaging with marketplaces to ensure they would be open to embracing the Shopfront platform.   

“If the marketplaces picked this up - would there be a problem? Would they mind if we did this? But the conversations were actually the inverse in the sense that the marketplaces agreed that there was a lot of friction in the process and to support in getting people listing was a really probable tool,” he says.

“That helped validate the concept that we were thinking of. It's done quite well in places like the US. We thought: Let's bring a challenger to Australia and APAC and ramp up here in terms of the larger charity shops. We identified that a lot of them are transitioning to e-commerce now, because traditionally they're in-store and relying on that standard retail approach. With a tool like ours, we're hoping that we can accelerate the progress on the secondary market for those big charities.”

“We had some really strong conversations with major marketplaces globally and large Australian charities in a short period of time. Antler seemed to really like us as a team and as a business and product. It was extremely stressful, but it was a good process and a very good outcome.”

The start-up has an MVP – minimum viable product – that has been tested by around 50 users, which have played with a product readiness tool that removes and edits backgrounds and generates listing details such as size, brand, condition, estimated price, and more.

Now, Shopfront is looking to garner 1,000 sign-ups to a waitlist, with the aim of rolling out the beta platform to an initial 20 users by August. As part of that rollout, users will be able to test out listing on multiple platforms like eBay, Depop and Etsy.

Currently, the platform is only accessible via the web, with the co-founders are also looking into ways to build a native mobile app down the line.

So far for Spiteri, he’s been enjoying working with sellers to streamline a process that is all too familiar to him.

“I was actually in London. Due to the cost-of-living crisis and COVID, I was selling things regularly. I was a regular seller on Depop, and I was using that to fund my own wardrobe quite often. I've always been into the sneaker market,” he explained.

“When I moved back to Australia, I realised how much of a slower pace it was. And you know, my usual platform of Depop wasn't performing so well. I did have to be spread across the Facebook marketplace, Depop, and eBay just to get one sale of sneakers. It was frustrating for me.

“The whole mission is to make sure that it's easy and quick for people to sell their goods. Whether you're a pro, casual seller, or even if you're a business. We think there's a gap there, a huge area to play in, and a huge potential for something to come in and disrupt.”

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