A website called Buyma, billing itself as a “social fashion site,” is connecting individuals looking for luxury brand products unavailable in Japan with people abroad willing to buy them on their behalf.
The main overseas buyers for the site, which is managed by a company named Enigmo Inc., are Japanese housewives and other individuals who happen to be living outside Japan.
The site was launched by Enigmo Chief Executive Officer Shokei Suda in 2005.
The Tokyo-based company undertakes the transaction between seller and purchaser for a commission when the deal is settled.
“We hoped to discover quality items on a real-time basis with the help of individuals around the world who are good judges,” Enigmo director Hideo Ando said.
It was a struggle to find customers at first. Some months saw only ¥30,000 in sales.
Once the company focused on fashion items, however, the site started to gain popularity. It now has around 1.5 million customers, while the number of buyers overseas has been built up to around 50,000 living in 75 countries.
The site offers around 2.4 million items, including clothing, accessories and tableware, a year, according to the company.
The service can be financially attractive for the buyers.
“This job (of buying products in Italy) has supported the family as we are both busy raising children and studying,” one of them said.
With an increasing number of customers directly asking buyers who share the same taste to purchase specific items, the company has added a function under which the purchasers can send information about products and bargains to specific consumers.
An English site has been launched in the U.S. called Avenue K, while South Korea now has Buyma Korea.