User Experience in Online Shopping in Japan

Even the way that Japanese people use the internet has distinct differences from the way that Americans do. Internet usage penetration in the United States sharply drops off after the age of 50 and that is not the case in Japan.

Internet usage by age group in Japan

In addition to the differences in user base, there are some differences in preference as well. Japanese consumers actually favor direct communications about products and sales through email whereas the majority of American consumers consider these to be annoying. Without a physical store that customers can walk into, it is important to recreate a personally tailored experience in a digital format.

User experience is one of the most important things businesses should consider when selling anything online. A business that falls short in terms of providing the experience that customers expect, will be considerably less successful in the online shopping experience.

Related post: Why sell in Japan

Customers favor dedicated digital storefronts

Japan’s entire retail system tends to focus on individual stores. This is true when it comes to eCommerce in Japan as well. Because Japanese consumers seek out detailed information and want to get to know the brands they’re buying from, dedicated digital storefronts are much more popular among shoppers as opposed to simple product catalogs.

The most popular and promising categories in Japanese eCommerce are the following:

Fashion & athleisure
Beauty & cosmetics
Sports & outdoor

Online stores in JapanImplementing an individual store can benefit a seller by providing a dedicated space for customers to get to know a brand and products will help gain their trust. This provides the space and opportunity to provide the information consumers expect and allows you to completely cater the experience to them as a shopper.

A seller can use this space to share information about shipping, returns, and any other policies. This added layer of transparency will help put Japanese shoppers at ease if they’re unfamiliar with your brand.

The dedicated storefront feature is built right into Rakuten. The platform gives you the space to create a storefront full of information and even allows you to have dedicated product pages that go into more robust detail about the product.

It is one of the reasons why Rakuten holds the largest market share in Japan. In fact, it is home to almost 50,000 different unique online shops. Websites with this structure provide sellers with greater success than those that simply function as a catalog.

Customers Want to Be Able to Shop on Their Mobile Devices

Mobile phone use is the most widespread form of internet use in Japan. Japan is sometimes referred to as the most mobile nation worldwide with some sources purporting that there are as many as 173 million mobile connections throughout the country. That’s greater than the country’s population!

Mobile shopping in JapanResearch shows that as much as 73% of Japanese consumers have bought something on their mobile device at least once. Recent data also states that close to one-quarter of all eCommerce sales take place on mobile devices. The majority of Japanese fashion sales take place through mobile devices. Conversion rates are also as much as 10% higher on mobile devices. Even older Japanese consumers trend towards mobile shopping.

With this in mind, it is critical to ensure the chosen online marketplace is completely mobile-friendly. The platform should provide fast-loading images, appropriately-sized buttons for use on a touchscreen, and a site that is completely optimized for mobile users in order to make the most of selling in Japan.

A business can invest in mobile optimization on their own site or they can choose to use an online marketplace that comes with a fully-kitted mobile platform allowing them to reach more shoppers. Rakuten has a dedicated mobile app that boasts millions of downloads from shoppers all over the world.

Customers want to shop on trusted platforms

As mentioned, trust is huge in Japan. There is a lot of skepticism among Japanese consumers; which means that less than a third of shoppers are comfortable purchasing products from a foreign website. So, even though international brands are well-liked and even more desirable than some Japanese products, the platform can still be a hurdle.

There are a lot of options when it comes to selling in Japan. Many brands choose to set up dedicated websites, for instance.

Trust in JapanThere are also multiple platforms that a business can choose from that already have large user bases in Japan. Rakuten is the one with the largest user base, the largest market share in eCommerce, and the highest monthly active users.

Japanese consumers tend to favor Rakuten over other platforms; 80% of the Japanese population uses the site for shopping online. There are also a lot of different features that make it more desirable among consumers.

Choosing a trusted platform to get started selling in Japan can be one of the most important foundational steps that a business can take as they expand globally.

This is especially true for businesses that do not have a lot of brand recognition. In this case, it is very helpful to have the support that comes along with using a platform like Rakuten and sort of a built-in customer base that will start exploring and eventually purchasing your products.

Customers expect exceptional customer service

Being polite is extremely important in Japan. Japanese culture is deeply rooted in etiquette and respect. Things already touched on like customizable delivery dates, clearly outlined policies, and even generally working hard to meet the expectations and needs of your Japanese customers are all part of providing great service.

Having an easy-to-navigate site on desktop and mobile, providing reviews for potential customers to read, and thoughtful and thorough product descriptions will be critical to Japanese ecommerce success.

Customer service in JapanCustomers should have a way to get in touch with you to ask questions or voice any concerns. It is also important to make sure to have someone who is completely proficient in Japanese to help you when dealing with customers that may not speak English.

Exceptional customer service comes down to making sure the entire experience is catered to the customers and that you treat them the way that they expect to be treated. Focusing on the little things to help make their online shopping with your brand more convenient is going to help elevate their experience.

Rakuten provides sellers with great support in the forms of expert training and guidance and with outreach and communication tools built into the platform. There is also the Rakuten Worry-Free Guarantee to help protect customers and provide them with assistance in handling their claims, which helps bolster the popularity of this massive online marketplace.

Customers favor more content

Minimalism has been on-trend in America for years now. This simplistic look is favorable to American consumers so it may surprise you that the exact opposite is true in Japan. Instead, Japanese customers have a strong preference for very rich and vibrant imagery, busy designs that are packed with information, and very little whitespace.

Very image-heavy and text-heavy pages may not be something that you are used to as this is typically seen as off-putting and even overwhelming to your existing customer base.

Product content in JapanHowever, the use of a lot of images and text on your product pages is going to be something that is essentially required in Japan. These consumers want detailed information and extensive illustration while doing their online shopping.

In fact, designs that are “too minimal” by Eastern standards may end up making your offering seem untrustworthy to potential customers. This is especially important when first breaking into the global market and getting started selling in Japan. It gives shoppers an easy way to start to get to know your company, recognize your brand, and understand your products.

The ability to create custom product pages for each individual product that you sell on Rakuten makes this a breeze. Rakuten offers the ability to focus each page on the right keywords to come up in searches, the in-depth features of the product that provide value, and bring products to life on their screens.

The most important thing about setting up pages to cater to your Japanese customers is to be diligent about picking the best photos, making sure everything is properly translated, and creating an entirely new design that fits their tastes and grabs their attention.