How flea markets are going mobile in Japan


There’s a lot of hype around the e-commerce space in Japan, particularly mobile commerce. According to a recent survey, one of four smartphone owners who read news on their mobile (the most popular activity among those polled) also report having bought something on their device. So it is not surprising to find many tech companies eager to get a piece of this growing market. One approach that many companies are taking is to create a sort of mobile flea market platform. To understand more about this trend, here are five apps from the sector which we think are worthy of recognition.

Mainichi Frima

MainichiFrima-appThe Mainichi Frima app (roughly translated as ‘Everyday Flea Market’) from CyberAgent features a range of stores and items, and a bulletin board upon which you can negotiate deals and prices. The app has successfully reproduced the offline flea market experience in the online space. The service is most popular among women in their 20s and 30s, and just five months after its initial release, the app already features items worth over 300 million yen (nearly $3 million) in total. The app is available both on iOS and on Android if you’d like to check it out.


Prima-appFor those of you with kids, you know how fast they grow. They keep out-growing the clothes and toys you have bought for them faster than you can buy them. Web and mobile development company Xtone came up with a solution they call Prima.

Parents can simply hand down their items to other parents who have younger kids. The app is free for anyone who wishes to sign up, but it will take a 10% commision for every transaction made. Prima for Android can be downloaded here.


Fril-logoA graduate startup of the Open Network Lab incubator, Fril is a flea market app targeting young girls and women. Just a month after its launch, the app had over 8,000 items for sale. Fril very deliberately made the entire auction process mobile only — which is unconventional, but at this point it looks like a sound strategy. Of its total registered users, one in five girls puts their items on sale with the average price of a item falling somewhere between 2000 to 3000 yen (about $20 to $30). The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Behind every item in your closet, there is a story. Where you bought it and why, or maybe someone gave it to you for a reason. Miyazaki-based development company Aratana has created a commerce app for iOS called It provides a place where people can sell an item by telling the story behind that item. Users can share these stories on different social networks, allowing them to not only make money from what they don’t want anymore, but through the story process they get to connect with like-minded people. Check out how the app works in the video below.


Pashaoku-appPashaoku is an auction app developed by the folks over at CyberAgent. As a comprehensive auction application, its competitors are internet giants like Yahoo Auction and Bidders (now known as DeNA Shopping). Auction categories ranges from fashion to interior decorations, or even manga and books. CyberAgent is using the same strategy that it has taken with its Ameba Blog, leveraging the power of celebrities and well-known TV talent. These celebrities are selling signed books and sneakers that they have worn, for which I’m sure fans will pay a high price. Pashaoku is available for download on both iOS and Android.

Mobile commerce is definitely a fascinating sector to watch. Online auctions and flea markets can often be simplified when conducted on smartphones, wheras they sometimes confuse users on PCs. There’s certainly lots of potential for small services like these to seep into the mainstream.