The East comes West. That would be Mercari’s mobile app for online shoppers. Based in Tokyo, Mercari has now launched in the US. The following article explains how Mercari’s flea-market type app attempts to compete against giants Amazon and eBay.
In an increasingly competitive global e-commerce market, it is daring for an Asian startup to challenge American giants such asAmazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. on their own turf.
That is what Tokyo-based Mercari Inc. is trying to do with its app that allows people to buy and sell used goods like $35 purses and $15 videogames—and it is making some inroads.
Downloads of Mercari’s flea-market app reached 19 million in the U.S. at the end of August, up from 12 million a month earlier, the company said Tuesday. Downloads in Japan have climbed to 35 million. At one point recently, Mercari’s app rose as high as No. 3 in rankings for U.S. downloads, according to analytics firm App Annie.
Mercari said it has succeeded by tailoring its app for American consumers.
Japanese online shopping sites offer storefronts stuffed with product categories and brimming with information about discounts. U.S. shoppers want something cleaner. “Research told us that Americans preferred a simple interface, so that is what we aimed for,” said Ryo Ishizuka, one of the founders of Mercari who heads the company’s U.S. operations.
Simplicity and integrated functionality are the keys to success in mobile e-commerce. Given the smaller screens and keyboards, mobile shoppers cannot be faced with too much screen content or repetitive clicking. One advantage for Mercari is that they built their online marketplace for a smartphone platform. Additionally, a seamless payment integration with the major cards plus Apple Pay and PayPal provides for easy checkout. Don’t expect Mercari to overwhelm the competition, but they are off to a faster start in the US market than other foreign online shopping sites that have tried.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group
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