Japanese marketplaces are reacting to the Covid-19 crisis by adjusting their services, even as they show restraint in drawing conclusions on the pandemic’s impact on their balance sheets.

Among developed nations, Japan has been the least-affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, there are only 3,600 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Japan, according to John Hopkins University. However, Japan is not immune from worldwide changes in lifestyle. Across the recruitment, autos and property sectors, marketplaces have introduced services that encourage contactless transactions or appeal to changing working conditions.

Global recruitment firm Recruit Holdings, the parent company of Indeed.com, has increased its focus on the freelance community and remote workers. Japan’s already tight labor market has been further constricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has halted hiring in many sectors.

A spokesperson for Recruit said the company is currently examining the economic fallout of Covid-19 on its business and couldn’t share details at this point.

“The fastest timing we will be sharing this is when we announce the annual earnings, which is in May,” said Kayo Kojima, the group’s spokesperson.

Recruit’s part-time job marketplace, TownWork.net, introduced a special section on the site to list short-term offers. Demand for these positions has increased substantially in recent weeks. As the leading part-time job site, TownWork’s move will likely encourage competitors to follow suit.

DIP Corp., another job board operator, also introduced a special page for work-from-home offers on its part-time job board, Baitoru. There is no listing fee for freelance job ads on the site.

“Reduced employment opportunities due to spread of new coronavirus have an impact on income. In order to provide works to those who wait at home due to the infection, we introduced a special page for remote job listings,” said Hideki Tomita, DIP’s chief executive officer.

DIP also rolled out a new tool called “Interview Cobot,” which lets recruiters screen applicants through a chatbot.

Staffing firm Persol Career Inc. which already operates several job boards, recently launched another recruitment marketplace Flexshion.jp, dedicated to fashion industry freelancers.

While Persol Career is already running a job support service specialized in fashion and apparel industry Crede.co.jp, a niche freelance marketplace indicates an underlying potential of gig jobs in the fashion market having retail value of over 9 trillion yen.

Some players are taking the opportunity to pay a little back to its users in a bid to retain customers.

Crowdsourcing company Crowd Works Inc. has returned 20% of its ad fees for listings to customers. The cashback drive is meant to provide financial support for recruiters and employers.

Real estate and auto marketplaces

Real estate and auto marketplaces are also innovating.

Lifull Inc., an operator of property site Homes.co.jp, waived fees on its web communication system used for online consultations, virtual property tours and digital contracts.

Proptech company Ga Tech introduced a 3D preview tool to let home-seekers digitally visit rental properties without making physical visits.

And used-car trader Idom Inc. rolled out a new app, Gulliver Auto, to increase digital transactions. Users can take a photo of their vehicle and send it to a professional assessor, who will provide an estimate for the vehicle via chat.

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