How Big is the Japanese Market Online?

Following China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan as the world's top four eCommerce markets, it's reasonable to consider Japan as a crucial market to build your retail business in. Could you imagine the feeling of being an entrepreneur that is in Japan and trying to market your product or service online?

It is not easy, but it can be done. In this article, we will explore the current state of marketing for entrepreneurs in Japan so you can expand your business there.

When you've decided to sell your products in Japan, one of the first decisions you'll have to make is whether you'll sell through your own website, a Japanese e-commerce marketplace, or both. While selling your items directly to consumers through your website allows you complete brand management and larger profit margins, reaching a wide audience and generating sales might be tough unless you already have strong brand awareness.

If your brand isn't well-known in Japan, selling on a Japanese online marketplace where your target customer already exists is one option. However, choosing the proper marketplace is critical to growing your business, and we're here to assist you to figure out who the major players are in Japan.

The eCommerce Platforms

As one might imagine, Amazon and Rakuten, Japan's top eCommerce platforms, control a significant chunk of the country's business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce marketplace.

Unfortunately, because neither corporation discloses its total annual transactions, these figures are based on several public sources and are estimations. Rakuten's annual transactions include its other eCommerce businesses like hotel/flight booking, Rakuten Pay, and Rakuma.

Rakuten has a large and loyal client base of over 100 million members who are constantly searching for new brands to discover. Not only does Rakuten have a large eCommerce marketplace, but they also offer a variety of services such as mobile payments, online banking, insurance, online trip booking, music, video streaming, job boards, and e-books.

Users can earn reward points for using the platform's services, which can then be used to purchase products or other services from Rakuten. Rakuten's services are used by roughly 70% of subscribers at least once a year. Depending on the things you sell, the Rakuten ecosystem may be the greatest platform for you because of its vast readership.

Another major eCommerce platform is ZOZOTOWN. With over 7,000 brands selling on it, ZOZOTOWN is Japan's largest fashion-focused eCommerce marketplace. ZOZOTOWN may be your greatest bet if you want to target a fashion-forward audience, as over 8 million individuals shop there each year.

However, you should be aware of the platform's exorbitant royalty costs, reportedly roughly 30% of your sales go to ZOZOTOWN, as well as the extensive qualifications required to sell on it. While the conditions aren't public, it's reported that businesses must be well-known and fulfill specified sales targets.

In Japan, there are a few up-and-coming eCommerce marketplaces that cater to young ladies looking for economical and trendy items.

Wowma! is a brand-new online marketplace that debuted in 2017. It is a subsidiary of KDDI Corporation, a Japanese telecommunications firm, as well as the holding company for au, one of the major mobile carriers. Young women who also use au are among Wowma!'s most frequent users.

Qoo10, formerly known as GMarket, is a popular Southeast Asian eCommerce site that sells low-cost goods, clothes, and cosmetics. was purchased by eBay in 2018 and is now run by eBay Japan. Because it is particularly popular among young women, its client base overlaps with Wowma!'s.

The eCommerce landscape in Japan

The Japanese eCommerce market was worth 166 billion dollars in 2018 (1 USD = 108.37 JPY). The Japanese eCommerce market is divided into three categories: retail (51.7%), services (37.0%), and digital content (11.3%). Although the market size of all of these categories has grown in comparison to the previous year, the service category has grown the most.

Several of the market's major companies offer a diverse range of product lines, allowing them to be more versatile and appeal to a wider audience.

Take a deeper look at some of the most popular, profitable, and promising categories in Japanese eCommerce. Click on each category to read more:

Fashion & athleisure
Beauty & cosmetics
Sports & outdoor

Final Thoughts

The e-commerce market in Japan has been expanding for some time and will continue to do so in the future. Selling products directly to customers is quite enticing after hearing the success stories of D2C firms like FABRIC TOKYO and Allbirds.

Launching a brand in a new market is difficult and expensive, especially if there isn't much brand awareness in the market yet. If you're having trouble breaking into the Japanese market, you should explore using a Japanese eCommerce partner site (like Rakuten) while you create your brand. It's critical to choose the right marketplace and/or partner.

Because there is no playbook or one-size-fits-all solution, it's critical to have a thorough understanding of the local market and your clients before entering the market.

Are You Looking To Reach Japanese Consumers Online?

As Japan's eCommerce powerhouse, Rakuten Ichiba boasts a whopping customer base of 100+ million shoppers. What better place to roll out your store and promote your brand than a popular marketplace frequented by 87% of the Japanese population?

Our team of bilingual eCommerce Consultants is here to answer any questions and guide your store through the process. It’s important that you know what sets our platform apart from other marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or even Etsy.

Benefits include a unique Lens On Brand experience where merchants can fully control their storefront—from product pages to customer experiences—to give off an authentic feel for their products without having to worry about how it will affect SEO performance or brand image in search results pages.

We also offer full support throughout the merchant’s journey with concierge-level service and cross-border reach as well! If this sounds intriguing, get in touch with us to learn more about the exciting opportunities for eCommerce merchants in Japan!