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Business

Video takes Japanese e-tail outside the search box

Startups C Channel, Mercari use clips to add a personal touch to shopping online

TOKYO -- Japanese startups are playing up video to showcase products for sale online, taking a new approach that contrasts with the search-based model of big retailers like Amazon.

Users of C Channel's app can buy products featured in videos with the tap of a button.

C Channel, a Tokyo video-sharing venture established in 2015 by Akira Morikawa, former president of chat app developer Line, features minute-long clips in which famous models and influencers -- social-media celebrities -- present clothes, cosmetics and everyday goods.

They offer tips on product features -- "this bag also has pockets on the inside," one presenter explains -- or coordinating outfits. A user interested in a featured item can buy it with the tap of a button in the C Channel app.

One video going up Friday, a joint effort with Samantha Thavasa Japan, features Australian model Miranda Kerr. The Japanese luxury fashion house is holding a presale of a new handbag coming out in the fall-winter season. It hopes to use the video to boost its appeal to the young women C Channel targets.

C Channel raised roughly 6.9 billion yen ($60.8 million) last year from such investors as SoftBank Group and TBS Television, a unit of Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings.

Get it while it's live

Virtual flea market operator Mercari's new channel takes a different approach, using live broadcasts within the app to pique shoppers' interest. Sellers can demonstrate how to use a product and field questions directly from potential customers. This function is now available only to certain sellers based on such factors as transaction history, but Mercari says it will eventually be expanded to more users.

E-commerce outsiders are getting in on the act as well. Candee, a video-production startup whose investors include smartphone game developer Gumi, teamed with online fashion store operator Crooz to launch an app where users can watch live video while they shop. The service held a summer fashion sale between June 30 and last Friday with half-hour broadcasts featuring such guests as store staff from Tokyo's trendy Harajuku district.

Fellow Tokyo startup 3Minute, which was acquired by social game company Gree this year, offers an e-retail service incorporating video. Influencers can promote their own clothing or accessory designs via live streams on Instagram.

(Nikkei)

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