Japanese people who want a (window-)shopping experience don’t really need brick and mortar businesses, at least not in the fashion realm. They can simply access Zozo, a shopping web site that boasts over 1 million registered users (in other words: potential buyers), half of whom are male.
What sets Zozo apart from other shopping portals is that it’s a) designed like a virtual town, b) limited to fashion items, c) geared toward a young audience and d) of gigantic proportions. Instead of going to places such as Harajuku or Shibuya, Japanese shopaholics just choose one of the thousands of items from hundreds of fashion brands Zozo houses in different “buildings” and “stores”: United Arrows, Diesel, Hysteric Glamour, nanouniverse… you name it.
The so-called Zozoresort is divided into seven main parts:
- Zozotown (shopping part, which is split up into different shops, categories, brands etc.)
- Zozonavi (directory of fashion stores in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures)
- Zozowalker (blogging platform)
- Zozo Q&A (section for fashion-related questions and get answers from other users)
- Zozogallery (screensavers and wallpapers for PCs and cell phones)
- Zozoresidence (fashion social network)
- Zozoarigato (short message system that allows to say “Thank you” to a person you like – living anywhere in the world)
Very useful: If you found an item you like in a (print) fashion magazine but are unable to track it down in stores, chances are Zozo will help you. Just go to Zozotown/Fashionmagazine and click on the cover of the corresponding magazine. Zozo will show a selection of products presented in the magazine in grid view (sorted by page numbers), some of which are even displayed in different colors. Needless to say, you can order directly on the site (see screenshot below).
This aspect of Zozo is vaguely similar to the service “Nekore” provides.
Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the most important fashion capitals of the world, but Zozo is geared towards the millions of Japanese kids living in the country side who can’t just take the train to the big city to buy clothes. So it’s no wonder just 16.4% of the users live in the Tokyo area. The average age of all users is 27 years.
The company, behind Zozo, Start Today, is based out of Chiba and has 186 employees. It was founded in 1998 by Yusaku Maezawa, who is still CEO (and just 32 years old).