E-commerce in Japan

The market scale of Japan’s e-commerce is one of the tops in the world,  exceeding 166 billion yen. 75% of the Japanese population makes purchases online, and they spend a significant amount of time using their phones on trains, with the average working person in Japan spending a total of 1 hour 19 minutes a day commuting for work, or about 39.5 minutes each way. And it’s during this time that many people purchase goods online. 

With the effect Covid-19 and the limitation of going out and refraining from visit malls, the growth of e-commerce is expected to keep increasing (annual mobile commerce growth: 14% according to some researches)

Buying goods online in Japan is extremely easy, thanks to a wide range of products and services available, high-speed internet pretty much everywhere, fast and reliable deliveries and excellent customer service.

According to Statista research, more than 50% of products and services bought online are in the travel industry (including accommodation), but also fashion and beauty products are often bought online, followed by Electronics, Toys&Hobbies and furniture&appliances. 

Recently, more C2C platforms are entering the e-commerce ecosystem in Japan, and people are easily able to sell second-hand items for a reasonable price, and this opportunity makes consumers less fearful about making poor purchasing decisions since they can sell on any items they don’t like later.

Things to consider for e-commerce in Japan

Even if Japanese customers are familiar with online shopping, they are more likely to purchase from trusted Japanese websites with only 10.2% buying from overseas sellers, versus the 54% of US shoppers.

Having a proper Japanese website, created for Japanese customers with an appealing design and product listing, rich in details and information is mandatory.
Work with native Japanese speakers who have a deep understanding of which keywords are appropriate to use, word order, writing systems and so on will also help you in search engine optimization, the process of making web pages easy for those searching through the web to access and index. 


In Japan over one-third of all online retail transactions are made on the 3 biggest marketplaces, which overall reach nearly 100 million users. Since Japanese consumers are extremely loyal to their shopping platform of choice, these platforms are a good place to start for foreign companies interested in entering the Japanese market, which can be then supported by a great digital marketing presence through Japanese accounts on social media.

Most popular e-commerce sites in Japan



Being known and trusted worldwide, Amazon is the most familiar platform for international resellers, and it’s also one of the most popular platforms in the country.

It’s possible to sell almost everything on Amazon.jp and it’s often the first place where the younger customers look for products. However, with a myriad of both local and international competitors, the competition is high and this can put greater pressure on you to distinguish your product listings and photography in a market where customers are able to view several related products right next to yours.

If you don’t have a strong brand to justify a price, you’ll have to be careful your pricing strategy still allows you to make a profit after you’ve calculated local shipping and storage costs.



Rakuten Marketplace

Rakuten is a Japanese company that offers an incredible number of services other than the marketplace. OTA, mobile company, bank,… It is the second biggest platform in Japan with around 49,000 shops and a quarter of Japan’s total e-commerce market share.
With a system of points and rewards like cashback and coupons, follow the typical Japanese system of marketing.
Being 100% Japanese style, setting up an efficient storefront, requires an investment of time and effort and it’s important to have the support of someone familiar with the platform.

Otherwise, once you optimize your page, conversion potential can be higher especially if you’re able to leverage strong brand credibility.


Yahoo! Shopping Japan

yahoo! Shopping

Despite the use of yahoo! as a search engine is constantly decreasing, other services offered by this company such as Yahoo! News are still on the rise in Japan. Having a storefront on this marketplace will give you the benefit of the integrations with other SoftBank and Yahoo-owned channels, that will immediately redirect the advertising to the shop.

It’s also worth noting that older demographics grew up in a time where Yahoo was the foremost online platform, with many work desktops using it as the default browser. Famous for their loyalty to brands and services they know and trust, this could mean that targeting older demographics may be easier through Yahoo’s suite of online services and channels.


Japanese Online advertising support for overseas retailers

Regardless of which marketplace you choose to sell on, it’s essential to offer customer support in Japanese as well as make good use of data collection and run online ads in Japanese. PPC ads are especially important for driving direct traffic to your e-commerce website.
It’s important to know which digital platforms are popular for online advertising in Japan as they drastically differ from other western markets. Also the search intent and the buying process it’s different, being Japanese shoppers widely opened to click on advertising, compared to the western users. Hatago Consulting will be happy to assist you in advertising your brand in Japan, contact us. 

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