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Mobile commerce draws new capital to Japanese market

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Adoption of shopping over smartphones is rapidly growing in Japan leading investors to dive in.

One of the most rapidly growing segments in Japan, at the moment, is mobile commerce, which is expanding at an exponential rate within the already healthy online shopping industry in the country.

Every year, the size of smartphone shopping jumps forward by a tremendous amount, growing its online share.

According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, mobile commerce spiked from 2011 to 2012 by 16.2 percent, bringing it to ¥1.17 trillion. The largest share of this market was in merchandise sales, which totaled ¥583 billion (approximately $5.9 billion).

Mobile Commerce TrendsMerchandise sales in mobile commerce were also the most rapidly growing, according to the latest statistics.

They saw an increase of 32.9 percent year over year. This massive level of growth is reflected in the results from fashion and retail that have been witnessed in Japan. For example, Zozotown, an online fashion retailer, discovered that 40 percent of its sales came from mobile commerce channels, last year. At the same time, Rakuten – the online selling giant – has reported that over 30 percent of its own sales are now being generated by smartphone and tablet.

As a result of the promise and steady rapid growth of mobile commerce in Japan, there has been a sudden and sharp spike in the number of venture supported smartphone apps for fashion and retail. Unlike the previous service generation, some of these are exclusive to mobile, especially those that are focused on the under 30 demographic. This group is most likely to use their smartphones and tablets as their primary internet access.

One example of that mobile commerce trend is from Muse, a VIP flash sales website. It recently managed to raise ¥350 million (approximately $3.6 million) in second round funding from a number of investors, including Itochu Technology Ventures. This was accomplished after it had already been able to bring in initial funding in 2012 of ¥150 million (approximately $1.5 million). That company now claims to have 200,000 users and sees monthly sales of about ¥50 million (approximately $510,000).

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