Mercari Attests to Resale's Renaissance

12/23/2019
Mercari’s app has been downloaded more than 45 million times in the U.S.

Who’d have predicted that in 2019, retailers like Macy’s and JCPenney would be teaming up with resale marketplaces?

Selling our unused stuff isn’t exactly new, of course; people have sold to each other since the beginning of time. Selling was an early feature of our civilization. As humans, we’re hard-wired to trade.

Yet it wasn’t until 1995 that selling really changed, with the introduction of eBay. The first online marketplace got people selling, but it was built for the desktop and Web 1.0.

For casual sellers, the smartphone was a game-changer. Apps like Mercari were built to tap the smartphone’s smarts: you take a few pictures, write your description, and your item is listed. Anyone can sell on Mercari -- in fact, it takes our users just a bit over three minutes to list an item on average. Once it sells, we make it seamless to ship an item and get paid. With Mercari, there are no meet-ups -- everything ships. And we charge a simple, flat 10% selling fee after a user’s item sells.

For a variety of reasons, people are becoming more conscious about their consumption. At Mercari, our mission is to make selling easier than buying. We think the mainstreaming of resale has just begun. There’s broad consensus that demographically and culturally, resale is poised to go mainstream.

In addition to those tailwinds, technology is being better tapped to make selling easier. There’s still too much transactional friction for casual sellers. Leveraging technology and our unique data set -- Mercari is a “closed loop” marketplace -- we’re laser focused on making selling easier than buying. Mercari’s technology teams in Tokyo, Palo Alto, Portland, and Cambridge, MA, collaborate on applied research in machine learning, data engineering, computer vision, QA and operations scaling. 

Introduced in Japan in 2013, Mercari is now Japan’s #1 marketplace. Our success in Japan prompted our U.S. launch the following year, in 2014. The app and its backend had to be adapted to the U.S. market where, for example, shipping was more complex (since the U.S. lacks Japan’s density).The foundational components of our platform started with Mercari’s Japanese app (and development of its backend for the U.S. market). Next we needed to build world-class teams in product, engineering, trust & safety and other functions for the U.S. business. Then we secured money transfer licenses where required to allow for money transmission in U.S. states and territories. This helps us keep our buyers and sellers safe: they don't have to make arrangements offline for payments. We can protect them at both ends.

Mercari’s growth is a testament to resale’s vitality. Currently our app has been downloaded more than 45 million times in the U.S. We’ve surpassed two million monthly active users, and more than 150,000 items are listed every day.

We believe resale’s renaissance is just beginning. Changing consumer attitudes and evolving technology are poised to further push resale into the mainstream-- potentially for years to come.

-Bradford Williams, head of communications, Mercari US

 

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