Japan’s Smaoku, auction site for authentic second-hand, now serves buyers in Asia



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Zawatt, the Japanese startup behind an online auction site for brand name items called Smaoku, unveiled today its international interface which enables foreign consumers to purchase authentic second-hand items from Japan. The new interface is available in English and traditional Chinese, aiming to serve buyers in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore (though simplified Chinese is used in Singapore).

Chinese-speaking buyers can easily communicate with Japanese-speaking sellers using a Q&A template on Smaoku.

With the new interface for buyers, sellers in Japan can easily submit their items to foreign buyers in the same manner with they have been doing for buyers in Japan. In addition to eliminating language barriers by machine translation and a Q&A template for interactions between sellers and buyers, generation of documents for export customs declaration, international forwarding service and credit card payments (VISA and MasterCard accepted) are available. Buyers can easily accept inquiries and purchase requests as well as shipping their items to the aforementioned regions.

If sellers in Japan want to sell their items internationally, all they have to do is just toggle the ‘International Sales’ switch in their ‘MyShop’ menu in the mobile app. In international deals, a buyer is to bear remittance and shipping charges while 10% brokerage commission will be charged to a seller when his/her deal is made (5.4% discount rate applied for ‘official shop’ sellers) for domestic deals.

Zawatt fundraised about $2 million last June to focus more on international transactions just released at this time. Despite their having SIG Asia Investments from China invest through this round, it may feel slightly awkward that the aforementioned service area doesn’t include mainland China in the cross-border transaction surge.

smaoku-global-deliveryAccording to Zawatt CEO Daisaku Harada, the company is still considering expanding into the mainland market because of high tariffs on luxury brand items, the need to locate servers within China (due to Great Firewall, narrow bandwidth as to overseas connections and ICP license requirement), different online promotional methods (since Facebook is unavailable in China), and different payment methods (people prefer to use UnionPay or Alipay rather than Western credit card brands). Seeing the response in the aforementioned four markets, he says that they will aim to start serving the Chinese market within the year.

I often see many events focused on cross-border e-commerce rather than ‘ordinary’ e-commerce across mainland China. Many cross-border e-commerce platforms deal with daily necessities or expendable supplies from outside China. The second-hand marketplace for brand items can be made because of the existence of Japanese consumers who carefully handle these items on the provision side. This particular segment of second-hand brand items can help Smaoku gain a competitive advantage over giants like Alibaba.

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Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy