One of Japan’s leading social shopping service provider Enigmo went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on July 24. It was one of the well-publicized IPO this year in Japan where numbers of companies filing for initial public offerings have shrunk drastically ever since 2008. The IPO followed the footsteps of other fashion-focused e-commerce companies including Stylife, Magaseek, and Japan’s currently dominant market leader Start Today who runs the “Zozotown” online commerce platform, one of Japan’s largest fashion commerce community.
The IPO gained much public attention in Japan as the brand was well known for years, both from the user community as well as the investor community. The company is also currently one of the finalists for 2012 Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award .
Enigmo was founded in February 2004 in Japan and began their online global shopping community platform “BUYMA” that following year. BUYMA, which stands for “buying market”, is an online social commerce space where registered users can purchase items from overseas through so-called registered buyers (who also are the users of the service residing outside the country, including housewives of overseas expats in the U.S., etc.) through the platform. Most of the items/goods sold through the service are particularly those that are hardly found/sold in Japan or items with wider spread in local-foreign price differences. The service currently has registered buyers in over 70 countries with over 1.5 million items being sold. Registered buyers are consisted at roughly around 50% U.S., 30% Europe, and 20% throughout Asia and Australia, and their registered users are estimated at approximately 9 million.
Some of Japan’s fashion/retail online commerce businesses have been expanding overseas for the last 4 to 5 years, but perhaps it is worth noting that one of the top brands are now seeking abroad these days. Japan has a well established shopping community and a wide variety of services. However, due to limited growth potentials in Japan, online shopping commerce providers are now looking for the next frontier outside the country. Some of the other major brands are tapping the overseas market recently primarily into China to capture the growing market there. One method being used in entering China is to have a local Joint Venture partner and leverage its existing brand, and add a new Japan segment on top of that, as opposed to establishing a subsidiary and doing things from scratch by themselves. Magaseek, for example, announced to team up with VANCL, whereas Start Today opened its Zozotown China in fall of 2011.
This recent IPO by Enigmo should strongly indicate that the trend may continue and particularly interesting to see how Enigmo will expand outside the country, with a possibility that they may be looking for new opportunities in much developed EC countries like the U.S. or the still-growing market like China.