Mobile-only Mercari releases niche app in Japan

09 May 2017

Japan’s unicorn, mobile-only marketplace Mercari launched a niche app on Monday dedicated to a part of a very popular category of Mercari, namely used CDs, DVDs, Blue-ray and used books in the category entertainment and hobbies.

The app was developed by Souzoh.com, an app-developer subsidiary of Mercari. The niche app, called MercariKauru, was launched in IOS only.

At present, more than one million used items are said (by the company) to be listed on Mercari in Japan every day. The company estimates the gross merchandise value of the used goods sold in a month to be around ten billion Japanese yen ($88 million U.S.).

The category entertainment and hobbies (which also houses the used CDs, DVDs, Blue-ray and books) account for 22 percent of total transactions. In other words, about $20 million U.S..

MercariKauru reads the barcode of a product to automatically determine its title, author/artist name, release date and even price. The product is simultaneously listed on the main Mercari platform.

The selling time of goods on the app is quite short: Half of the listings are sold within 24-hour of posting, the company said.

Currently, the app only caters for used goods, but the Android version is being developed, where new-book listing will also be allowed. According to a news release, the Android app will be launched next month.

Mercari Inc. charges commission of ten percent of the selling price, but not more than 210 yen ($1.90 U.S.). Tokyo-based Souzoh, also known as Imagination Co. Ltd., was set up in September 2015.

In Japan, Mercari competes with app-only c-to-c horizontals Rakuma and Clip, while general classifieds site Jmty.jp also poses competition.

Mercari is Japan’s first start-up valued at more than $1 billion U.S.. It launched in 2013 and has accumulated more than 60 million downloads worldwide. The app also operates in the U.S. and Europe.

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Tariq Ahmed Saeedi

Tariq Ahmed Saeedi writes stories on sharing economies in Asia – particularly Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. He has been with the AIM Group for the past two years. Tariq is also a spotter, monitoring global industry’s updates. He carries more than 15 years of writing experience. Tariq frequently contributes economic/tech news and analysis to a daily The News International and a magazine. He has also written features and interview articles for various other publications and some of his write-ups have been cited for references in reports by the World Bank and archived in Florida Institute of Technology’s library. Tariq has also narrated corporate website content for Audi importer in Pakistan and others. He started his career from a television’s current affairs department in 2003 and later joined the country’s premier news agency Pakistan Press International.