For a country that seems like it’s always on the phone, Japan hasn’t got many ‘buy and sell’ smartphone apps.
To be fair, it doesn’t need many. Mercari came along and stomped most of the competition early on. But there are a few rivals still on the scene… like Fril.
THE name in marketplace apps – ’til they changed it
We’ve waited so long to write this blog post… that Fril’s not even called Fril any more (except in the URL). It’s part of ‘Rakuma’ now – owned by Rakuten.
Fril first launched in summer 2012. It was one of the first ‘furima’ apps, Japan’s ‘flea market’ style of online selling and trading. It took Yahoo! Auctions years longer to catch onto that.
Does the name ‘Fril’ sound kinda… feminine? Not a coincidence. For the first 3 years, Fril was a women-only service. In that time, it clocked up 3.6 million downloads, and over 1 million items were sold every month.
Men finally got included with the app renewal in July 2015, yay!
As the service grew, so did the amount of stuff sold. Clothes, shoes, makeup, electronics. Hell, you can buy washing machines and fresh veggies on Fril now. And it’s easy to use on desktop, too.
How shopping on Fril works
The search function on Fril’s extra helpful. As you type keywords, it’ll suggest styles (like sleeve lengths), brand names and similar searches.
Start with an item in mind, or a vague idea of what you’re after, and it’s easy to hop around to other related stuff.
Results are shown with pics, brand name (if the seller added it), and prices. It’s clear if something’s sold out – look for the ‘SOLD OUT’ ribbon in the top-left corner. Click/tap on an item to get to the detail page.
Next to the price, you’ll see 送料込 (domestic delivery included)… or maybe you won’t. Always double check. The other important thing to spot’s this: すぐに購入可. ‘Possible to buy straight away’. You can see 1 of these T-shirt listings has that symbol, and the other doesn’t.
Huh? They’re not all ‘buy it now’ by default? Yep, on J-marketplace sites it’s a bit more complicated. And it doesn’t matter if you get there first or not.
In a lot of cases, you need to contact the seller first, and say ‘hey I wanna buy this’. They’ll do some snooping, read your self-intro and your reviews/ratings from other users. If they like you, the stuff’s all yours – even if other people sent requests in before you.
But if it says すぐに購入可 then go right ahead and order… AFTER you’ve read the rest of the item page.
You can throw most of it in Google Translate – here’s what we think you should always double check:
- サイズ – size
- ブランド – brand name
- 商品の状態 – item condition
- 配送方法 – domestic delivery method
- 発送日の目安 – estimated delivery schedule
It pays to be 100% – 1,000% – sure you want an item as it’s described on the page.
Fril’s sitewide rule for cancelling/refunds is… talk it out between yourselves. You’ve also gotta agree on the return method, and who’s responsible for return postage.
Buying on Fril with a Japan proxy service
The way we’ve explained things above only applies if you live in Japan. But you can buy from Fril anyway, if you use the DEJAPAN item request form. You don’t need a Japanese address or credit card to shop with a proxy. Read the full guide to see how the request form works.
Leave it to us, and we’ll contact sellers in Japanese on your behalf. We’ve been using Fril for a while now, and built up a decent user rating – so it’s more likely we can get items for you.
If you’ve got questions, or need advice on buying from J-websites via a proxy, send us an email.