Why Sell In Japan?

Japan has a lot to offer sellers from all areas of the world. It is often believed that Japan is a hard market to penetrate because of the differences in language and culture; however, there are a multitude of resources available to help overcome any of those perceived barriers.

American businesses can be quite successful in selling in Japan and with the right strategy the process of selling in Japan can be easy and painless.

Japanese total market value in 2019 was $186.7 billion

Japanese consumers love American products. This is a concept that reaches as far back as the 70s. At that time, one of the biggest fashion staples in Japan was American-made clothing.

Even though times change, the influence of American fashion on Japan has only grown stronger over the years. The demand for American products reaches far beyond apparel, too. Buying from international brands is often seen as a symbol of status. On top of that, American products are synonymous with quality.

Japan offers a customer base that is excited about buying American products. The Japanese love buying online and have grown to become the fourth-largest eCommerce market worldwide.

Japan's market size is impressive

In 2019, the total market value was $186.7 billion. Predictions show that the market will continue to grow; the projected Compound Annual Growth Rate from 2019-2023 is as high as 8%. Japan has also had the highest digital buyer percentage in the region for a few years running.

There is also a high internet penetration rate in Japan, coming in around 89.8%; the Internet usage rate by device for smartphones is 63.3% which is 12.9 points higher than for computers 50.4%. Online shopping has been steadily trending upward since then and was drastically accelerated in 2020 because of COVID-19, surging by over 50%.

eCommerce is booming in Japan and international brands are very well-loved. Further, Japanese consumers have a track record of being fiercely brand loyal when identifying a product that meets their expectations. Product return rates are historically low and there are several factors Japanese consumers tend to prioritize over price.

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

Fashion & athleisure
Beauty & cosmetics
Sports & outdoor

How to enter the Japanese eCommerce market

Japan is one of the best markets to target for global expansion. Choosing a platform like Rakuten can assist in making the expansion smooth, transparent and successful.

Rakuten has 111M monthly shoppers

When it comes to eCommerce, Rakuten outperforms several other popular platforms and holds onto roughly 27% of the market. There are over 111.4 registered members, which accounts for as much as 80% of the population.

Japanese consumers buy abroad

A marketplace like Rakuten may just be the key to getting in the door. PayPal mCommerce Study reported that only 20% had purchased from a foreign website. This shows that using a localized marketplace that these shoppers trust is going to be a vital part of your success.

Sell in Japan: What to know before you get started

Background knowledge of the Japanese market is critical to a business’s success in selling to Japan. Businesses making a big shift in their strategy, want to make sure they are thoroughly informed to make the most effective strategic decisions to advance towards their goals.

As is to be expected, there are going to be some cultural differences between American and Japanese consumers; and there are some distinct technical differences between domestic and international selling and shipping. The following article covers the top things a business should know before you get started selling in Japan.