In 2011, small business owners in Singapore set up shop on LiveJournal and completed transactions worth $72 million USD. They call them “blogshops” and there are over 50,000 of them currently running on the social blogging site.
Livejournal recently released a statement about their success and it is pretty amazing, mostly because it’s a singularly Singaporean phenomenon. They say the businesses are mostly small, home-based operations that have grown organically as an inexpensive way of getting started.
Right now, says LJ, only 10% are earning more than USD $1,500 a month but that’s nothing to cry about. Top earners are pulling in as much as USD $15,000 a month selling mostly clothing, beauty item and tech items.
What’s fascinating here is how people are earning good money with extremely basic sites. Take a look at The Closet Lover. The site is a simple blog, with more photos than text and not a lot of choices. No shopping cart. No credit cards. It’s the online equivalent of flea market shopping and it’s working.
Roshni Mahtani, CEO of Tickled Media, the publisher of LiveJournal in the South-East Asian markets, said,
“With the Singapore e-commerce market estimated at USD $1.2 billion this year, we are proud that LiveJournal drives 6% of that. We believe blogshopping will continue to grow here as e-commerce represents the most cost-effective way to do business.”
The question is, can it work here? LiveJournal is supporting the Singapore trade by featuring blogshops on their home page. The US home page features journals dedicated to pop-culture and creativity. Surely there are US LiveJournal users that sell items through the site. I use the site a couple of times a week and haven’t seen one, but my travels are admittedly limited.
Here in the US, home-based businesses flourish on eBay and Etsy, so why aren’t they taking off on LiveJournal? What is it that makes it work in Singapore but not here?
Do US shoppers have a higher expectation when shopping online? Not taking credit cards is somewhat of a barrier, but Paypal fixes that. Is it that we’re more leery of buying from a site that looks like someone is running it as a hobby? I don’t know, but I’m intrigued.
What do you think? Why are blogshops flourishing in Singapore? And is it a good thing or bad thing that it’s not taking off here in the US?