A summary of ecommerce related information relating to Japan.
Last Published: 12/5/2016

Overview

Japan’s ecommerce market is one of the largest and fastest growing in the world. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry estimated the business to consumer e-commerce market in Japan in 2013 at USD 91.8 billion, with 17.4 percent annual growth. The business to business ecommerce market in Japan in 2013 was estimated at USD 1.5 trillion, with 4.4 percent annual growth.

U.S. companies selling by ecommerce have various options to consider for commerce platforms, payment methods, shipping logistics, and customer service.


Statistics

Capital : Tokyo
Population: 27,064,340 (2014)
GDP(USD): 901 trillion (2014)
Currency: Yen
Language: Japanese
 

Market Entry

The major ecommerce companies in Japan and their estimated market shares  include

E-Commerce

Numerous other ecommerce companies operate in Japan, and many niche sites focus on a narrow range of products.

Department stores:

Social Media

LINE, Facebook, and Twitter are the most common social media sites. Instagram, Ameba (a blogging site), Mixi, and Google+ also are commonly  used.
  • LINE: 52 million users, 30 million daily  users
  • Facebook: 24 million monthly users
  • Twitter: 19.8 million monthly users
  • Google+: 15 million usersSource: GaiaX Social Media Lab, 2015.

Digital Advertising

Internet advertising topped USD 8 billion for the first time ever and grew at a 12.1 percent rate in 2014, driven by growth in smartphone and video ads and ads using new advertising technologies.
 
By comparison, in 2013 Internet advertising total expenditures were over USD 7.5 billion, approximately 15.7 percent of all advertising expenditures, growing at a rate of 8.1 percent per year (Dentsu 2014).
 

 Fulfillment

The major fulfillment centers in Japan include Amazon Japan (11 fulfillment centers), Rakuten (1 fulfillment center and plans for 2 new distributors), and Yahoo Shopping (7 distributors).
 

Current Market Trends

 Online Payment

Credit cards are the most popular form of payment for ecommerce  transactions.  Convenience store cash payments also are popular in Japan. Amazon Japan and   other ecommerce companies allow customers to order online, choose a convenience store for delivery, and pay in cash before picking up their order. This process caters to the large number of Japanese consumers who prefer to pay in  cash. 

Mobile eCommerce

The most significant online purchasing trend in Japan is the rapid increase in m-commerce—mobile ecommerce transactions. In the first quarter of 2015, the percentage of online transactions on mobile platforms topped 50 percent for the first time, according to the Criteo State of Mobile Commerce report (Criteo 2015).
 
The mobile device share of transactions is higher in Japan than in any other country. In 2015, over 50 percent of ecommerce transactions were by mobile device. The share of mobile transactions on smartphones is about 90 percent, with about 10 percent on tablets. The mobile share of transactions is rising rapidly and is expected to top 60 percent in 2015.
 
Japanese consumers are very engaged in the mobile shopping experience. They view   three times more products on mobile applications than do consumers in the United States, and the overall sales conversion rate is 9.3 percent—almost four times higher than in the United States—according to Criteo, a mobile advertising company.                                                                                                                   
According to comScore research (2013), 86 percent of all Internet users visit online retail sites, among the highest percentage in the world, ahead of the world average by 9   percent. 54 percent of Japanese mobile users are above 45 years old, the highest percentage among the developed markets. 

Promotions and Discounts

Most ecommerce companies in Japan offer loyalty or frequent-shopper programs. Most stores use a point system that can be redeemed to buy goods or get discounts. Usually, 1 point = 1 yen. Yahoo Shopping and Rakuten have had loyalty point programs for many years, and Amazon Japan started its program in May 2015.
Yahoo Shopping cooperates with Tsutaya, a large firm that operates rental stores and convenience chains, participating in the Tsutaya “t-point” system that partners with many stores, the third-largest convenience store chain, hotels, and online travel sites. Since 2013 the partnership has enabled Yahoo Shopping customers to spend t-points earned through purchases at their local convenience stores.
Rakuten has a Rakuten Super Points program that allows 1 percent of the purchase price to accrue as points. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Super Points rate is doubled. Rakuten partners with Japan’s #4 and #9 convenience stores, gasoline stands, and even funeral homes.
Rakuten also has a credit card program that provides a 2 percent return on purchases made at Rakuten. Signing up for the credit card is easy, even for foreigners, who usually have difficulties obtaining a Japanese credit card.

 
Current Demand

The percentage of Japanese consumers who report some cross-border online purchases   is a relatively low 59 percent, compared with a global average of 82 percent, according to market research by Forrester Research (forrester.com). Communicating with consumers  in Japanese, providing high-quality customer service, and understanding Japanese consumer behavior are important factors to consider. U.S. merchants and exporters may, therefore, find it advantageous to collaborate with Japanese ecommerce platforms to reach Japanese consumers.Some market analysts estimate the number of cross-border purchases to be in the 10 percent to 20 percent range.

 

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



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