Japanese startup Sumally launches mobile marketplace service



See the original article, written in Japanese

Sumally is a social platform where users find recommendations by recording what they already have and they what. The startup has now also begun a C2C e-commerce service called Sumally Marketplace. Currently, it is available only on iPhone.

You can list your item as available for sale on the app platform either by selecting an item you have already registered on site, or by registering new items via a bookmarklet and uploading its picture via the app.


There is no initial fee and monthly fee for sellers, and at the moment no sales commission either. People who buy items need to only pay for the price displayed on the app, with no transaction fees.

Payments are transacted by Sumally, and CEO of Sumally Kensuke Yamamoto says that the company plans to implement a 10% commission in the future.

The competition in C2C mobile commerce is still very fierce in Japan. There are already Frill and Mecari in the startup arena, and Yahoo Japan on the corporate side. There are other C2C platforms out there are well including as Locari, Listore, Stulio, and Mom’s Market. It is estimated that the C2C mobile platform in Japan transacts nearly $200 million a month. All the players are striving to either increase their current share or find a new market.

50 million data points

In this extremely competitive field, how can Sumally compete? I think Sumally has much potential to grow, because of its solid structure for connecting the users and items based on their accumulated data.

Sumally started in September of 2011, and since then it has been building a network where items are connected to one another. According to Yamamoto, the database now contains 1.35 million items, built by almost 400,000 registered users. In addition, a lot of metadata has been added to each item, amounting to nearly 50 million data points. All that metadata can really help you find what you really want.


Here is how it actually works. First you click the “want it“ button on whatever item is similar to what you want. Related items will begin to appear by continuing to use the want, you will eventually achieve the ideal item.

Find a handbag in 7 steps

Since I was not quite sure how accurate the underlying data structure was, I tried out the service to see if I could find a bag to fit my own taste. Here is how I reached my ideal bag, in a total of 7 steps. I really feel this recommendation system is quite novel, very different from that of Amazon.


I wanted a handbag. So I pushed the “want it” button on a bag that I randomly selected. And I chose a hand bang of the sort that I wanted.


I continued to click “want it“ on bags which I thought were better.


I wanted a blue bag. The selection is got closer to what I wanted.


I finally I found my ideal bag.

The potential

At this point, you cannot buy the items you want on the Sumally website at the marketplace. But sellers can understand which product is popular on the website site and use that info to choose which items to sell on the marketplace.

As the number of listed items grows on the marketplace, the precision of the matching will be key. It could be a big advantage for the company, and they could even expand their business by allowing other services to use their data.

In talking with Yamamoto, I saw a lot of potential with this business structure. I’ll write more about that next time.