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How to Succeed in Entering Japan eCommerce

How to Succeed in Entering Japan eCommerce

Considering entering Japan and struggling to find the best marketplace for you?
If you’re a first-timer in this market, you might want to consider eCommerce rather than facing an uphill battle against getting into the challenging retail scene.

With the Japanese cross-border B2C eCommerce market expected to grow by 26.2% and reach $5.2 trillion by 2030, Japan is quickly becoming one of the most exciting opportunities for global businesses.  
This growth not only showcases Japan’s potential as a thriving market but also opens doors to wider opportunities across Asia, from China and South Korea to Southeast Asia.

In Japan, the eCommerce landscape features several key players, including leading platforms like Rakuten, Amazon, Mercari, and Yahoo! Shopping.
Each platform has its own unique features and audience. By diving deep into the details of each eCommerce platform, you can determine which one is the best match for your brand.

Building Trust with Japanese Consumers 

Trust and transparency matter when it comes to succeeding in Japan.

Japanese consumers really value loyalty and often stick with products they trust. For eCommerce items, it’s important to make detailed and transparent information about your products available in your store as you are establishing yourself in this new market.

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Building rapport with customers is vital. Japanese shoppers expect high-quality products and excellent customer service. Have a Japanese speaking customer service team ready to ensure customer satisfaction. In Japan, excellent customer service isn’t just a bonus; it’s the standard. To make your brand shine, offer fast, reliable, and flexible shipping options. Japanese customers love being able to personalize their delivery schedules, and meeting these expectations will help you stand out in the competitive market.

One of the ways Japanese brands strengthen loyalty is a point system.
They incorporate a points-based rewards system that entices customers to buy more by offering discounts. Rakuten, Amazon and Yahoo! shopping are some of the major eCommerce platforms where you can offer such systems.
Note: Point systems are so favored and prevalent in Japan that customers might even opt for a point-back, rather than a coupon. And they typically shop where they can use their points.

Make sure your store has well-translated customer reviews, as Japanese shoppers like to make informed purchase decisions and rely heavily on reviews to gauge trustworthiness.
Encouraging customers to share reviews is important, and if you’re just starting out on Shopify, consider translating reviews from other markets or, if you are on Amazon, enabling Japan can automatically do this. Japanese customers are thorough researchers and want to know everything about a product before making a purchase. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide detailed product descriptions, features, purchase options, and dimensions.

Pricing Yourself Right

Japanese consumers are strongly influenced by price, deals, and promotions.
More than 90% of online purchases are made at prices that are either lower than or equivalent to those found in physical stores.

Japanese shoppers frequently use price comparison sites to shop around for the best deals, trying to get the best quality for the price.
This makes it challenging for new brands to compete unless they offer excellent value for money. While loyalty to specific platforms or brands exists, many customers will still compare products to make sure they are getting the best possible deal.

Get to know your competitors and their pricing to position your product as the best value for money, whether you choose premium pricing or not. Use price comparison sites to understand the market and keep your prices competitive.
Note:  If changing price is hard for your brand, introducing loyalty programs and rewards can help you attract and keep customers, or you can take advantage of promotions and rewards on platforms like Rakuten and Amazon.

How Localization Can Make or Break You

Japan has a notably low rate of English fluency, ranking 80th in a survey of English proficiency among 112 non-English speaking countries and regions.
Websites and products that lack localized Japanese descriptions tend to have low conversion rates.

Japanese is recognized as one of the most difficult languages for achieving natural-sounding translations through software. Machine translations often miss the nuances of the Japanese language.

Localization goes beyond simply translating one language into another; it involves understanding your target audience and their culture through thorough market research to effectively frame your content to appeal to your target audience.

Brands entering Japan should invest in market research to adapt their products, packaging, and marketing strategies to resonate with Japanese consumers. Properly localized products, ads, and listings speak directly to customers and blend with native content on platforms like Rakuten, which enhances credibility and trust in your brand.

In our experience, products that are localized see up to a 30% increase in success rates, proving the importance of cultural adaptation in Japan’s competitive eCommerce landscape.

How Can COVUE Help?

COVUE is your local end-to-end market entry partner. Breaking into a foreign market like Japan comes with its share of challenges, but by leveraging our expertise in eCommerce, localization, and native customer support, you can build a brand presence that Japanese customers will love!

Click here to read about one of our partner’s journeys in Japan.

Wondering how we can support your brand?

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