Japanese e-commerce platform provider Base introduces new iPhone app


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See the original story in Japanese.

Base is an e-commerce platform provider startup from Tokyo. It was born out of Project Liverty, a tech savvy team led by serial entrepreneur Kazuma Ieiri. In contrast with their competitor Stores.jp, the Base team has been pretty quiet recently. But they have released a new iOS app today, which allows merchants to build and manage their online shops entirely on mobile.

In addition, the company has added a new feature called ‘Base Curation,’ which has an interface resembling an online shopping mall, curating featured shops. It displays users’ shops which have been selected by the company’s management, and if you would to like them to feature your shop in the menu, you can make a request via the dashboard.

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I asked the startup’s CEO Yuta Tsuruoka if the curation menu is a special business strategy for Base — but he said that this wasn’t quite the intention, explaining:

Unlike other mall platforms (which have many tenant merchants), our service does not provide a way to find a specific shop on the platform. We want to see how we can encourage merchants to set up their online shop on our platform. When you launch an app, it shows you a number of online shops where you can quickly jump in to purchase something you want, but you can also [just as] easily establish your own shop from the menu.

Placing pictures of products, changing design, inventory management, etc. – all these tasks can be completed with the smartphone app because we really want to give more people opportunities to build up their own “economic block”.

Base is not trying to be a big e-commerce portal, but a rather platform where people can easily repeat transactions, buying and selling items by leveraging their social connections, and accelerating long-tail businesses.

According to Mr. Tsuruoka, almost 60% of their purchasing traffic comes from mobile devices.

Co-founder Kazuma Ieiri using the app

Of course, all these updates are very likely a direct result of Ieiri’s own philosophies. I asked him how they plan to compete against various competitors, including major e-commerce platforms, shopping cart ASPs, and other similar services. He answered me directly, not hiding his intentions of taking the fight to his competitors:

They are elephants or capybaras [1], but we are mere ants, in contrast. For ants, even if you join forces with capybaras, there’s no way you can defeat elephants. Therefore, you must dig up the ground so that you might trip up the elephants. Understand?

The Base team is expecting to see 500,000 downloads of their iOS app by the end of this month. Let’s stay tuned to see how they do!

  1. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world according to Wikipedia. Editor’s note: Ieiri’s metaphor is a little strange, but it seems capybaras might be a less obscure animal among Japanese people because it is cute, and has been featured in some TV commercials.