Interview with CEO of Kawashimaya



Kawashimaya was established in November 2011, what makes you motivation to build this company?
I did a lot of research about Japanese soy sauce before, and I found that there are many traditionally made, old-styled delicious Japanese soy sauce all around Japan. This soy sauces usually made by small-scale industry which doesn't make any major growth, so their business age won't stay in a long period. Even though their products are very tasty, and made in an organic way without chemical substances, eventually this soy sauce will disappear because of the business competition. It's not just about soy sauce, but many other organic and homemade products.
Kawashimaya is the place for those small businesses to keep growing, and for our consumers who have an interest in Japanese authentic products, such as Japanese organic foods, traditional kitchen wares and tablewares.
What is the company’s values and concept of Kawashimaya?
Our concept is to find and present traditional crafts and delicacies refined with excellent skills and great passion from Japan, and deliver them to our dearest customers all around the world. We have mission to deliver full satisfaction to our customers and give our employees opportunities to improve their lives.
Why do you decide to make an online store?
To me, the online shop is a solution for everyone who wants to start their business with limited assets at first. The world is gradually changing and e-commerce has become one inseparable aspect in business. As long as you have a passion and vision in one field, which also supported by the market trend and market point of view, you can start your business right away!

What is Kawashimaya's first product to sell?
We started our online shop on 1st January 2012. At that time, we only have six products. The products are three types of Japanese soy sauce, two types of miso, and one cooking oil. We are still selling them, and now they are becoming one of our best-seller product!
How you do decide the next product to sell in Kawashimaya?
First, we need to do research to gather the information about the most demanding product in the market. We need to check and evaluate and consider many aspects of the product carefully before we actually decide what is the most suitable product to sell in Kawashimaya.
From what you said earlier, we know that Kawashimaya has sold more than 10.000 types of products, how do you maintain the quality of the products?
We do random check of the products, and we always check and keep contact with our manufacturers and farmers. We also read the customers’ reviews and hear their comments, if there are any complaints regarding to our products, we cross-check it to the makers and customers.

What is the most effective marketing strategy for Kawashimaya who focuses on selling Japanese authentic products?
Advertisement only works for short-term marketing and pays a lot of cost for a developing company like us. Therefore, we decided to make useful content for our customers. In addition, it doesn't require many costs. Even though it needs 2-3 months to make an impact, this strategy is very effective for us.
Feel free to read our contents/blog

About the division of operation, how do you manage the warehouse?
We are selling more that 10.000 products with a rather small warehouse, so we need to make it as effective as possible. So, we develop our own system for operation division. It’s still a simple system, but it’s very useful. With that system, you can pick an item and count the number of that item available, and you can order products to the makers to replenish them via that system too.
Basically, it will take one business day from when the customer ordered the products until they’re arrive at customer’s place (in Japan area). But for the products which are not in-stock (pre-order) it will take about two business days (in Japan area).

Do you have any manuals or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the division of operation?
Yes, of course we have it. We have manuals for the operation division’s work cycle and the manuals for the system. Any new recruits will need to learn those manuals.
What are some accomplishments at the Kawashimaya that you are most excited about?
I feel very excited when I can see my team members(employee) are excited about doing their work. It is one of the proudful accomplishment for Kawashimaya.
Also, it is also becoming our accomplishments that we could have a good relationship with our partners (craftsmen, makers, and farmers). I could not be more thankful to have a good and close relationship with our partners so we could develop our original products smoothly. In addition, we got a lot of feedback from customers about our products. So we can understand what our customers want.

Did you plan on make a physical store in the future?
At this moment, I don’t think we will make any physical stores yet. But in the future, if we see that there’s good cost efficiency in making physical stores and good inbound tourism of people around the world come to visit japan so we have potency to make physical store, we will consider making it. For now, we will just make pop-up stores (temporary stores) in some events.
Do you have any plan to make a mobile application for Kawashimaya?
For now, we still don’t have any plan to make one. But we don’t know for the far future.
What is your future plan for Kawashimaya?
For the nearest future, we want to develop our market and sell our products around the world. We’re making this global site for that purpose. We hope that our customers from around the world can use our website easily and have a good time with us. Our main goal now is, everyone around the world can have an easy access to enjoy Japanese authentic products with reasonable price. For that, we also plan to make branches in other countries too.
Other than that, we also plan to make some new products of our own. For example, one products that we’re developing now is a tool to make any fermented foods such as natto, koji and amazake and so on. This product is called “Hakkou Meijin”, which means “The Fermentation Master” in English. We plan to release it in January 2019.
Not only products, we also want to make useful contents for our customers. We will keep making articles and information that you can access by clicking “Blog” on the bar on the upper side of our website.

So, now we know a lot of stuffs about Kawashimaya, including their future plans. Now, the last question! Do you have any messages to Kawashimaya’s customers?
Our goal is to deliver Japanese authentic products, such as Japanese foods, traditional kitchen wares and tablewares, to everyone all around the world with reasonable price. In addition, we also make customized products which are suitable to your country. I hope you can enjoy shopping in our store, and I’m really looking forward to hear your feedbacks!