Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 2/22/2017

Japan’s eCommerce market is one of the largest and fastest growing in the world.  According to the latest Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry survey, the B2C eCommerce market in Japan in 2014 was estimated at 12.8 trillion Yen ($121.8 billion at 2014 exchange rate of 105.8), a 14.6% annual growth.
 
The B2B eCommerce market in Japan in 2014 was estimated at 196 trillion Yen ($1.9 trillion at 2014 exchange rate of 105.8), a 5% annual growth.  Internet technologies used in B2B transactions include TCP/IP, VPN, IP-VPN, etc.
Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry
http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2015/0529_02.html

U.S. companies selling by eCommerce have various options to consider including:

  • eCommerce platforms
  • Payment methods
  • Shipping logistics
  • Customer service 

Several large eCommerce companies offer services and solutions to assist U.S.-based merchants to sell their products in Japan. Please contact us for additional information.
 
When considering the Japan eCommerce market, exporters should keep in mind the considerations that apply to traditional exporting, as well as the unique factors of the internet and eCommerce. Communicating in Japanese and providing excellent customer service are very important.
 
E-commerce Platforms in Japan
The major eCommerce companies in Japan and their estimated market share are:

Source: Bloomberg, Euromonitor
 
In addition to comprehensive e-commerce companies, specialized platforms and companies proliferate as well.  Fashion eCommerce is a growing sector.  Zozo Town is the largest fashion e-commerce site in Japan, with more than 5 million users.  They have a mobile app, WEAR, which is a fashion coordination app with over 2 million downloads.  Other fashion mobile apps are iQon and Origami.  Food and beverage sales are another fast-growing segment of the Japanese eCommerce market.  Seiyu, Ltd. was the pioneer of supermarket internet sales in 2000.  Today there are many eCommerce supermarkets, including Ito-Yokado, Aeon, Maruetsu, Tokyu Store, Kinokuniya, Summit, and Izumiya.  Many other niche eCommerce companies in Japan focus on a narrow range of products.
 
Department Stores and Other

 
Apparel eCommerce Sites

 
Supermarket eCommerce Sites

 
Books and Media eCommerce Sites

 
Online Purchasing Trends
The most significant online purchasing trend in Japan is the rapid increase in mCommerce – mobile eCommerce transactions.  In the first quarter of 2015, the percentage of online transactions on mobile platforms topped 50% for the first time, according to the Citeo State of Mobile Commerce Report. http://www.criteo.com/media/1894/criteo-state-of-mobile-commerce-q1-2015-ppt.pdf.  Shopping on smartphones and other mobile devices is increasingly popular in Japan, and the mobile share of transactions likely topped 60% in 2015.
 
Social media has a growing influence on eCommerce.  METI research found that social media has a similar reach to consumers as traditional media such as television and print media and that social media influences online purchase decisions.  METI research also found that a significant number of consumers purchased desired products and services based on information gathered online and through social media sources, underscoring the importance of a strong, favorable web presence. 
  
As for the actual delivery of goods, Japan’s eCommerce market takes advantage of the advanced logistical systems and infrastructure in Japan, as well as the large number of convenience stores (konbini).  About 17% of payments are made in cash at convenience stores after the goods are delivered, which is an increasingly popular payment option in Japan.  Credit card payments, at 60%, remain the dominant form of payment for eCommerce transactions. 
 
eCommerce Spending in Japan – Top Sectors

  • Consumer electronics and appliances - 22%
  • Apparel - 18%
  • Media, toys, games - 13%
  • Food and beverages - 12%
  • Personal care and cosmetics - 6%
  • Furniture and housewares - 6%
  • Other - 24%

Source: AT Kearney, Euromonitor
 
Opportunities

There are a few open B2B sites for foreign exporters in Japan, with most Japanese B2B sites focusing on domestic business transactions.  Japan’s largest international B2B site is:  http://www.export-japan.co.jp/.
 
U.S. firms interested in e-commerce might consider listing on the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)’s business matchmaking database known as TTPP (http://www.jetro.go.jp/ttppoas/index.html).  Registration is free and may be done in English.
 
For more information about eCommerce as a distribution channel please contact the Commercial Service Japan ICT Team.  We are happy to assist U.S. exporters and merchants with eCommerce opportunities.
 
CS Japan Contacts: 
Ms. Rika Saito, Senior Commercial Specialist
Rika.Saito@trade.gov
 
Ms. Atsuko Shimada, Commercial Assistant
Atsuko.Shimada@trade.gov

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service 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 U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Japan eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce