3 Japanese E-Commerce Trends to Watch

Japanese ecommerce trends

When it comes to searching for a product you want, even during busiest days, online shops will be an ideal option for you. E-Commerce is a rapidly growing channel for brand dealers, and in Japan, this growth can be clearly seen. Japanese consumers are eager to do their shopping through the internet. Before launching in this Eastern isolated world, you should examine how to tap into that.

1. Giants Battling for the Title of Platform Leader

E-commerce platforms bring fire to the fundamentals of the online shopping culture. Rakuten, B-to-B-to-C model proves the potential in the Japanese e-commerce arena, as one of the latest to launch their business as a venture company in 1997.

Until then, almost all their online business was found in BtoB transactions; it was only when co-founder Hiroshi Mikitani conceived to create the platform for consumers with small shops that participants on this platform started opening their websites for trading, and the trend of owning Rakuten sites spread phenomenally.

Amazon is also reputable among Japanese men, rather than women,  who often use the site for product research. Both companies dramatically invested in creating a logistics network in the past 5 years, with Amazon finally winning the logistics battle.

These are the two key players fiercely fighting for ground, followed by Yahoo Japan, Start Today (focusing on apparel) , Mercari (CtoC apps), Yahoo auctions, and other specific shops.

2. The Non-credit Payment Culture

If you were visiting any local Japanese town, you might be surprised that stores tend to not accept credit cards. Options for payment are decentralized, with E-commerce options for payment occupying only 60% of total purchases, which tends to decrease every 5 years or so. Mainly we use credit, cash on delivery, or bank transfers.

Delivery options tend to also be varied, we use convenience store pick-up and relay delivery points. What’s popular in each Japanese region largely depends on the age of the shopper, as well as where they live. Credit isn’t too popular in the countryside, and cash is used for daily transactions. In contrast, metropolitan areas tend to be the realm of digital payment, so target your demographics carefully.

3. Bridging the Gender and Age Gaps

Comparing the trends, men and women browse products differently on an e-commerce site. Women, particularly in metropolitan areas around the capital, often visit places to window shop. They browse between mobile and desktop, then go directly to a brick and mortar to compare prices, fashion, and the best deals.

Men prefer to make decisions rapidly, not considering discounts or other temptations. Searchable products on Google and Amazon tend to catch their eye. It’s typical to see passengers on the train scrolling products on their smartphones.

So far, online bookstores are quite famous by selling electronic versions of manga. This phenomenon, in particular, is eroding the conventional market, especially for weekly magazines.

Social commerce is getting popular with young people and for personal business. CtoC trading app, Mercal is evolving their presence by allowing customers to freely sell or buy on their iPhone or Android, without any censorship. Housewives tend to upload second-hand items for sale in the neighbourhood.

Little by little, online shops are entering into the elders’ market, following the overall Internet penetration. Much of them prefer to phone the company and buy it for their grandchildren or relatives.

Outside of the above trends, the Japanese E-commerce market is surprising for Westerners. It’s important to pay attention to localization and to set up your target and learn what you can about who they are, where they are, how old they are, and what they buy.  This will take time and diligence to see through, but it will be worth it to convert our market and improve your strategy.