TOKYO (P3PWriter) – Zozotown, which swooped in as a little-known retail web site and prodded once-reluctant Japanese customers to buy on-line for garments, is now going through stiff competitors within the business whose picture it remade.
Arriving on the scene in 2004, the location made a killing promoting garments from outlets reminiscent of Japanese boutique United Arrows and minimal French label A.P.C.
Zozotown’s success turned its founder into one in every of Japan’s richest entrepreneurs, and its title adorns a baseball stadium.
However its dominance is being challenged, with retailers increasing their e-commerce choices and large names reminiscent of Amazon and SoftBank Group Corp eyeing a bit of the rising enterprise.
At stake is a $120 billion trend market that was virtually totally dominated by brick-and-mortar shops till a couple of years in the past, however is reworking amid the proliferation of smartphones and residential supply.
On-line trend gross sales have grown to over 10 p.c of the entire Japanese market up to now few years – with Zozotown on the head of the pack – and are more likely to surpass 20 p.c in three years, in keeping with Nomura Securities.
“There must be a second participant, and we’re placing up our hand,” stated Yusuke Tanaka, founder and chief govt of trend web site Locondo Inc.
To distinguish itself, Locondo focuses on sneakers and, in contrast to Zozotown, gives free returns – nonetheless a rarity in Japan. It additionally shares stock with trend web site Magaseek.
For now, Zozotown is “completely sweeping the board,” stated Yuki Ando, common supervisor of internet enterprise at Sanyo Shokai Ltd, the style firm behind strains reminiscent of Waterproof coat Philosophy.
Zozotown is operated by Zozo, formally known as Begin Immediately Co Ltd.
The web site set itself aside in its early days with a clear, uncluttered design and a slice of “Ura-Hara” model – the modish trend of the backstreets that line the trend-setting Harajuku district of Tokyo.
Enterprise took off as fashion-conscious professionals of their late twenties and early thirties began utilizing Zozotown to purchase stylish however work-appropriate threads on-line from labels reminiscent of United Arrows and Nano Universe.
Its goal is now broader, promoting over 6,800 manufacturers together with, beginning subsequent week, garments by Shimamura Co Ltd, one in every of Japan’s largest mass market chains. However business executives say it nonetheless has an enviable cachet.
Zozotown has an “overwhelming capability to draw clients,” says Takahiro Kinoshita, a supervisor within the digital advertising and marketing division of United Arrows.
In February, trend firm Stripe Worldwide launched Stripe Division, a web-based three way partnership with SoftBank Group Corp.
The positioning options suggestions by stylists, and targets a person base that’s barely older than that of Zozotown, the corporate says.
Amazon is making an attempt to lift its trend credentials in Japan, sponsoring catwalk exhibits in Tokyo. The pinnacle of Amazon Japan’s trend unit, James Peters, says trend is without doubt one of the firm’s fastest-growing areas, however declined to supply figures.
Retailers that had traditionally centered on increasing their bodily presence are additionally shifting to e-commerce. Japan’s Quick Retailing Co Ltd, which controls the Uniqlo model, is making an attempt to develop on-line gross sales, that are presently lower than eight p.c of the corporate’s complete. Chief govt Tadashi Yanai stated he desires to see that to rise to 30 p.c.
Even the manufacturers that drove Zozotown’s early success are actually competing with it.
United Arrows nonetheless makes virtually 60 p.c of its on-line gross sales via Zozotown. However gross sales on the model’s personal web site are rising quickly too – up 35 p.c within the final fiscal yr, which led to March.
Trend firm Bay Crew’s Group stated 30 p.c of its on-line gross sales come from Zozotown. However 60 p.c are via its personal web site, producing valuable buyer information, stated Jun Shimada, a senior govt.
International firms are serving to Japanese retailers polish their on-line presence. Sweden’s Virtusize, for example, provides code that permits customers to match the match of things to these they already personal.
“Our largest market by far is Japan, the place near 20 p.c of all on-line retailers use Virtusize,” stated chief govt Gustaf Tunhammar, including that Europe was the second-largest market, and that “solely a handful” of shops within the U.S. used the expertise.
Japan can be one the biggest markets for UK-based 3D-A-Porter, which gives three-dimensional physique scanning and digital clothes try-on, in keeping with CEO Lara Mazzoni.
Zozotown, in the meantime, has deployed its personal high-profile expertise to combat a slowdown in transaction worth development. Its Zozosuit collects physique measurement information that permits customers to order fitted clothes on-line.
The corporate is breaking new floor in deploying such expertise on a big scale, with greater than 550,000 fits despatched to clients. Success would rework Zozotown, based by punk rock-loving billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, right into a model in its personal proper.
However managing all that information in an period the place privateness issues can roil customers shall be essential, stated Ed Gribbin, U.S.-based CEO of attire enterprise and product growth consulting agency Alvanon.
“There may be extra resistance to offering information to retailers on the one hand, however the backside line is that discovering the best dimension and a flattering match often outweighs the privateness points,” he stated.
Reporting by Sam Nussey; Extra reporting by Melissa Fares; Modifying by Gerry Doyle