'Buyma' shopping site attracts luxury brand fans

By Asako Takaguchi, Kyodo

Posted at Jan 13 2014 09:35 AM | Updated as of Jan 13 2014 10:48 PM

TOKYO -- A social shopping site called "Buyma" is connecting individuals looking for luxury brand products that are not available in Japan with people abroad interested in buying them on their behalf.

The main overseas buyers for the site managed by Enigmo Inc. are Japanese housewives and other ordinary individuals living outside Japan.

The site was launched by Enigmo Chief Executive Officer Shokei Suda in 2005 to help Japanese consumers purchase upscale foreign brand products more easily.

Under the service, the Tokyo-based company undertakes all the transactions between sellers and purchasers and receives commission fees once 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.

The company initially struggled as it failed to increase customers who were interested in purchasing goods on its site. There were even times when monthly sales totaled only 30,000 yen, according to Enigmo.

Once the company focused on fashion, however, the site started to gain popularity, with the number of its member consumers now totaling some 1.5 million. The number of buyers overseas also increased, reaching around 50,000 living in 75 countries.

Enigmo said that the spread of smartphones has also contributed to the rapid growth of the service and that many consumers have visited the site to look for what they were unable to find anywhere else.

Currently, about 2.4 million items such as clothing, accessories and tableware are put up for sale annually on Buyma, according to the company.

On the part of sellers, one Japanese couple living in Italy expressed satisfaction at being buyers for the company. "This job (of buying products in Italy) has supported the family as we are both busy in raising children and studying," one of them said.

Since an increasing number of consumers directly ask buyers who share the same taste to purchase specific items, the company has added a function with which buyers can send information about products and bargains to specific consumers.

Enigmo is looking to advance into overseas markets. It has already launched an English site in the United States and started a service in South Korea as well.

"We hope that Buyma will continue to be a place where consumers can find any time what they want and make purchases without any concerns," Ando said. "We also hope to create new value by connecting individuals around the world on the Internet."