On Apr. 23rd, social commerce iOS app “origami” was released. Similar to Twitter, users can follow their favorite brands, shops and people. Brands will release information about products, and when users share or like the products, this information feeds to others. Any of the products included in the feeds are available for purchase. Payment can be made in two easy taps through credit card settlements.

One month after the release of the app, 250 items are in store and 200 to 300 stores are applying for registration. The soft skills of origami = brand line ups, are handled by business developer and co-president Maximilian Mackee. Mr. Mackee worked for 10 years as a lawyer in Japan and the UK, and later attended French business school INSEAD. He joined origami last October.

-- What kind of app is origami for brands?

It is a tool to understand customer needs. Up until now, I think it was difficult for brands to come into direct contact with customers, especially when the products are wholesaled from the brand to a select-shop from where it goes into the hands of the customers. It was only possible to understand the characteristics of customers as a group but difficult to have precise, concrete data and to understand the continuously changing trends and customer habits.

Using origami’s management tools, it is possible to understand what types of people are buying what kinds of products. Information such as age, region and favored brands can be gathered. Changes in taste can be viewed live as well.

What makes it even more interesting is that we can also capture the data of potential customers. We will have information on those who just entered the store or who just took photos without purchasing anything. We can also observe who “likes” and shares our items. Based on this data, stores participating on our app can implement effective marketing strategies.

--What kinds of marketing strategies are employed?

This is still in the works, but one idea we have is to be able to search an item from stores in proximity to the user. Let’s say a particular user is trying to buy a gift for his/her partner in Harajuku. If the partner is connected to the user via origami, the app user will be able to gather multiple data on favorable items with just one tap. The user might see this as a recommendation, but for the brands, it is an effective method of target marketing.

We are also thinking of sending push alerts to users who pass by stores that that match the person’s preferences and age-group. Overdoing this will stress out the users, but if we are selective about the information we send, the users should be happy when bulls-eye information pops up. Marketing strategies relating to locations and gift-giving are the most implementable approaches.

--You are considering implementing online to offline (O2O)?

I think that up until now, apps and digital platforms such as e-commerce could not bring out the best of creative genres such as fashion and art. For fashion, having an actual store was very important. People fear the presence of online stores. They see it as a threat to offline stores.

If brands use origami effectively, our app can bring out the strengths of offline stores. origami can be an entry point for potential customers to come to know about the brand through the app’s functions of e-commerce, marketing and gathering people. You can say that this app is a new type of infrastructure.

--These past few years, store interiors have become quite simple.

Today, simply creating a store with fancy interior does not appeal anymore to young customers. For me, that is enough in itself, but for those in their 20s, it isn’t. There has to be more “ways” to convey the messages of the stores to the customers, so that they can understand the charms of each store.

I see many stores setting up dining facilities as an annex to its apparel stores. I think this is okay, but I want to do more interesting things with digital technology. If brands can connect with potential customers digitally and eventually attract them to visit the actual store, the potential customers may become actual purchasers. It is important for customers to enjoy the stylish stores and window displays and to enjoy the shopping experience at offline stores. origami’s role is to communicate this joy to customers by continuously upgrading our functions and providing the necessary feedbacks to participating brands.

To be continued into vol. 2