Japanese eCommerce is a great opportunity for brands to exploit. But first you need to know what Japanese online shoppers are looking for. Explore how to sell online in Japan – with a deep dive on the sector’s biggest player, Rakuten.

1. MOBILE

In Japan, mobile is hugely popular. Conversion rates on mobile sites are high at 10%, and mCommerce accounts for 60% of all online purchases (source: Criteo). So any successful eCommerce strategy should take mCommerce into account.

Big eCommerce sites in Japan like Amazon, Rakuten and Zozotown have capitalized on this by launching their own mobile apps.

2. GREAT SERVICE

Fast delivery is a given in Japanese eCommerce. Customers in Japan expect to choose their own delivery dates and times for most purchases. So before you launch, make sure you’re able to provide a good range of delivery options.

For many years, Japan has enjoyed a low return rate. Since the return process is often overlooked, you could stand out by making it easy for customers to know how to return purchases.

Credit and debit card transactions make up 66% of online payments. But cash on delivery is also accepted at convenience stores (konbini) in Japan. This method is popular among teenagers who don’t yet have bank accounts, so offering this option is a great way to sell online to a younger demographic.

3. ASSURANCE

Japanese shoppers need a lot of assurance before committing to a purchase. You can build their trust by translating user reviews since users are valued more highly than experts as a source of information. 

It’s also common for Japanese restaurants and shops to list and rank their most popular dishes and products. These lists let customers know what others have chosen, tying in with Japan’s collectivist culture of peer acceptance and belonging.

4. FOREIGN BRANDS

Japanese shoppers are reluctant to buy foreign products. And although their attitude has softened in recent years, just 32% of Japanese shoppers say they have bought from a foreign website.

This could be because Japan leads the world in its distrust of institutions. To break through this skepticism, you’ll need to build a strong brand image and provide high-quality service.

5. POINTS

Japanese shoppers love earning loyalty points, so it’s worthwhile to develop your own reward scheme. It also encourages repeat purchases because customers build up or cash in the points they’ve earned.

Rakuten has a robust points system that links to user credit cards. This incentivizes the already loyal customer base to use the platform, and has helped it become Japan’s largest eCommerce site.

RAKUTEN

Often referred to as “The Amazon of Japan,” Rakuten has over 105 million users in Japan alone. That’s more than 80% of the population, making it a great platform to leverage the Japanese public.

Rakuten allows each brand to have a distinct image. Every seller has their own landing page, which takes shoppers directly to their store. It also allows you to have great flexibility with your site’s HTML.

Rakuten’s setup enables you to support return buyers, highlight sales and encourage add-on purchases. Given this design freedom, optimizing and localizing your content in Japan is a must.

Rakuten is a great way for international brands to make their debut. In fact, brands like North Face, Abercrombie and Burberry are popular on the platform.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When learning how to sell online in Japan, it’s important to keep in mind that Japanese shoppers have high expectations for authentic brands and excellent service. Leveraging Rakuten can also be a great way to keep your individual brand identity while having a presence on the biggest eCommerce site in the country.