Urban Research and H&M open on LINE, LINE Mall also launches

Jan 15

As LINE continues to expand its user base, it is also capturing more corporate customers. As with Facebook and Twitter, LINE makes it easy for brands and retailers to engage directly with consumers, sending out information on special offers, events and new stores. LINE itself is now developing its own e-commerce revenues.

Messaging service LINE signed two more high profile retail brands last month, H&M and Urban Research. Urban Research opened an account for its new mass market chain Sense of Place, providing LINE friends with news on special offers, fashion news and updates on new stores. H&M gathered 64,000 friends in the first four weeks of opening its account. It too will use the LINE service to promote special offers, new stores, limited editions and fashion news. LINE continues to add major retailers and brands. Amazon is one of the bigger new corporate accounts, along with Loft, JTB and Kirin.

LINE says it hit its 2013 target of 300 million registered users worldwide at the end of November – it had just 50 million users in June 2012. It has now set a new target of 500 million users by the end of 2014. LINE already dominates the Japanese market and is hoping to become a more significant player globally where it faces competition from Whatsapp (350 million active users), as well as China’s WeChat. LINE’s sales have also risen strongly, up 48% in the last quarter, largely from games and digital stamps.

As with Facebook and Twitter, LINE makes it easy for brands and retailers to engage directly with consumers, sending out information on special offers, events and new stores. Unlike other social networks, LINE is a text messaging service. Since checking text messages is an essential part of daily life for most people, whereas Facebook and Twitter are more usually optional time fillers, some think marketing on LINE offers a better chance of being noticed.

LINE is now also creating its own e-commerce revenues. It launched a flea market last month called LINE Mall. The app is available through the Google Play store and an iOS app will be available in the Spring. LINE Mall will take a 10% commission on all sales and sellers will also receive points for each transaction. These can be used for discounts in the mall. Sellers and buyers can register through their LINE account, but they can also set up a separate LINE Mall ID. Categories of product include toys, clothes, electronics, interiors and beauty products. LINE will be competing in a crowded market place; in Japan Cyber Agent’s Maifuri.jp, Yahoo Japan Auctions, Mixi and numerous smartphone only services like Mercari and Fril already serve this market, and in South-East Asia Rakuten investee Carousell is expanding. LINE’s advantage is its existing database of smartphone users. It hopes ventures like LINE Mall will increase user engagement with LINE.

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