How to Sell in Japan

Expanding your brand into the Japanese eCommerce industry could be a fantastic idea and opportunity for your business. But first, you must understand what Japanese online shoppers anticipate from their experience.

Japan's eCommerce market is enormous for such a small country. It is, in reality, the fourth largest eCommerce market in the world. Japan's economy is steady, and there is a significant demand for genuine, high-quality goods. Simply said, the Japanese eCommerce sector offers a promising opportunity for online merchant.

While having a physical store is preferred by Japanese customers, it is not required if you can meet their expectations in the following five categories.

1. Mobile First

Mobile is quite popular, as it is in many Asian markets. Mobile sites have a high conversion rate of 10%, and mCommerce accounts for 60% of all online purchases. As a result, mobile compatibility should be part of any effective eCommerce strategy.

Amazon, Rakuten, and Zozotown are all big eCommerce sites in Japan that have launched mobile app versions of their platforms to capitalize on "mobile-first" shopping habits.

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

2. Great Service

For the Japanese online purchasing experience, quick delivery is a given. For instance, Amazon provides same-day delivery to 80% of Japanese customers and next-day delivery to 91.5%.

For the most part, Japanese online buyers expect to be able to choose their own delivery dates and hours. As a result, Japanese-localized eCommerce websites and apps must have the functionality to accommodate a wide range of delivery alternatives.

For many years, Japan has had a low return rate, and many Japanese brands aren't open about their return policies. Making it simple for customers to find out how to return items can help you stand out from the competition and develop trust in your brand.

While credit and debit card transactions account for 66% of all online purchases in Japan, cash on delivery is also common, especially at convenience stores (called konbini). Offering this option could be a wonderful approach to engage a younger market, as this method is particularly popular among young people who do not yet have bank accounts.

3. Buyer’s Trust

Japanese shoppers are cautious buyers who seek confirmation from their peers before making a purchase. By translating user reviews on your website, you can increase confidence in Japan. As a source of product information and brand credibility, users are frequently considered higher than specialists.

Japanese restaurants and stores frequently identify and rank their most popular dishes and products. Customers can see what other people have chosen, which is in line with Japan's collectivist ethos of peer acceptance and belonging.

4. Foreign Brands

Japanese shoppers may be hesitant to purchase foreign goods, which may be related to the trust issue we discussed above. Even if attitudes have softened in recent years, only 32% of Japanese shoppers admit they have purchased something from a foreign website.

This could be because Japan has the highest level of institutional distrust in the world, and consumers appreciate peer criticism. You'll need to look beyond translation to acquire and maintain Japanese consumer trust, as well as develop a strong brand image through a translated marketing plan and give a good customer experience.

5. Programs for Loyal Customers

Loyalty programs are popular among Japanese buyers, with 47% choosing to buy from a website because of its rewards program. Localizing your rewards programs for Japanese customers could be a good strategy to engage local customers and motivate them to buy again.

Rakuten, for example, has a robust rewards system that links to using credit cards, rewarding their already committed client base to use the site.

It doesn't end there, though. Rakuten has approximately 105 million users in Japan alone, earning it the moniker "The Amazon of Japan." That's more than 80% of the population, making it an ideal platform for reaching out to the Japanese.

Brands can use Rakuten's structure to drive repeat purchases, advertise promotions, and encourage add-on purchases. As a result, there is a lot of competition on the site, therefore localizing your brand experience and optimizing your content for search is essential.

On the platform, international labels like North Face, Abercrombie, and Burberry are popular. The consumer impression in Japan is that if you can't find it anywhere else, Rakuten will have it.

Final Thoughts

When thinking about selling online in Japan, keep in mind that Japanese customers have high expectations for authentic, trustworthy brands and good customer service. Using established eCommerce platforms like Rakuten in conjunction with a localized digital marketing approach can help you maintain your own brand identity. It will also give your Japanese market a trusted and familiar eCommerce experience, which will increase engagement.

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!