Japan has had ecommerce for a long time, but subscription-based services have yet to take off. Now, however, several subscription services in the social networking and e-commerce space are launching new offerings. The big one hitting the news in Japan is Social Networking Service (SNS) mixi.mixi announced in August a new subscription-based service platform “Petite jeté.” Petite jeté is expected to officially launch in mid-September. Petite jeté targets women in their 20’s with new fashion. To start, the new service will be registration-based and is initially open only to 1000 registered users. Information about the launch is still a little limited, the website has only brief statements like “a new style fashion experience exclusively for 1000 members delivered every month” or “sophisticated items just for you.” But excitement is still high.
For those in the U.S., this might not seem like a big deal, but subscription-based e-commerce services are relatively new in Japan. A few new players, Yamory, Sakelife, Hatch and Candy Japan, recently launched their services and are gaining attention throughout the Japanese entrepreneurial community. These initiatives are still in their early stages though and we have yet to see whether they will scale into a more nationally recognized service platform.
Like the other two SNS players from Japan, Gree and DeNA, mixi is under pressure to expand. Unlike the other two, however, mixi has even more pressure. mixi was the market leader in the SNS space when it began its services in mid 2000s until Gree surpassed them. And, over the last couple of years, mixi has lagged behind the other two; with mixi’s market cap dipping below its historical average for the past couple of years.
It remains to be seen whether an SNS/social games provider can capture the audience in the e-commerce space. More dominant players in the e-commerce space in Japan such as Yahoo Japan, Rakuten, Zozotown and traditional national retailers in the country are expected to tap into this segment within the next 12 months. But mixi’s attempt to step into subscription-based service may indicate that the other dominant SNS/social game players in the country are about to jump into this category too, which should help this type of service gain momentum in Japan. So the change in Japan may just be starting.