It was just a little while ago that I heard news that New York-based social commerce service Fancy would soon officially launch in Japan. We recently had a chance to meet Kosaku Yada, the guy who is responsible for making it happen. The ‘boss of Japan’ (the actual title on his business card) told us a little bit about what Fancy has planned for the country in the near future.
For those not familiar with it, the social commerce site originally launched all the way back in December of 2010, and has now accumulated over 3 million users. Fancy growth is impressive so far, and just last week the site snatched an all time high of 250,000 new users in a week.
Of those 3 million total users, Japan only accounts for a small fraction of them. So why chose Japan as the next market?
Culturally, Japanese value design, quality, and attention to details above simply the price of products. The smartphone penetration rate is high, and Japanese users are used to purchasing through their mobile device. Mobile commerce is also a main focus of our business and where more and more of our efforts are headed. So we see a lot of parallels between the Japanese market direction and ours. Although Japanese users are only a small fraction of the current userbase, we think it’s a good match.
When it comes to e-commerce, the Japanese market is filled with domestic players, as well as global giant Amazon, which is almost as common as Rakuten here. Localizing an app is one thing, but localizing an entire commerce experience is another. Fancy plans to overcome the language barrier first and will move on to providing the necessary payment options for Japanese shoppers possibly by partnering with strong local companies.
Fancy is where people come to discover cool things to buy, with 95% of all items on the site available for purchase. But Yada says that there are hopes Fancy might become more than that for Japan, introducing and exporting interesting craftmanship and designs to the rest of the world. Who knows, a small factory in Kyoto with a cool product might find fans around the world if some fan celebrity decides to “Fancy” their item.
Yada explains that Fancy is currently in middle of raising another round of funding with American Express as the lead investor at 26.4 million. The added funds will be used to enhance logistics and customer service as well as arrange the launch in Japan. Fancy also recently announced Google Plus integration with its site allowing users to join more easily.
There were no specifics mentioned about a timeframe for the Japan launch, but as a fan of the site, I can only hope that Japanese users will be able to experience fancy shopping sooner rather than later.