E-commerce & Shopping Trends of Japan

Thinking about conquering the faraway lands of Japan, where trains are super-fast, technology futuristic and helpful, and the architecture is picturesque as if it were straight out of a Studio Ghibli film? Sharing your American product line with Japanese customers is an easy next step when the Japanese culture and e-commerce market are ready and excited for new things from the US. With your business acumen, our international shipping experience, and Japan’s reception of new technology and products, this is sure to be a successful venture!

At Package Hopper, we’ve made it our mission to simplify the process for individuals and businesses to send their products all over the world, while keeping the prices low. And since hard work always pays off, we’re proud to say that we offer shipping to over 210 countries worldwide, including Japan.

One of the Top E-commerce Markets

Japan has the 3rd largest e-commerce market. This stems from the fact that 85% of its population of over 163 million inhabitants shop online, and more than 60% of them buy things from online sellers at least once a month (a percentage that reached 69% during the lockdown in 2020). 

The country’s revenue for 2020 was US$105 billion—19% more than the previous year. And these numbers contributed to the 26% growth rate of the world’s e-commerce revenue.

All these numbers mean Japan is a ripe market for you to start marketing your brand to! Experts recommend a great way to begin attracting Japanese customers is to add Japanese as a language option on your website or online shop. It’s a good idea to hire a fluent or a native translator to make sure you get all the intricacies of the Japanese language so your new Japanese customers can trust your efforts in catering to them.

Buyers’ Favorite E-commerce Sectors 

Food and Personal Care was the #1 sector for the Japanese in 2020 and it is not just because of the COVID lockdown! The Japanese way of life is very dynamic, so this sector is always the largest in Japan and accounts for 25% of the country’s total revenue. 

This is great news for beauty, makeup, and skincare boutiques and brands that are interested in some Japanese market share. You have an eager customer base ready for your custom blend of hair oils, exclusive pigmented eyeshadow kits, or gentle moisturizing skincare products.

Apparel comes in #2 with 23%, followed by Toys, Hobbies and DIY at 19%, Electronics and Media at 18%, and finally, Furniture and Appliances at 16%.

When it comes to online retailers, yes, you guessed it! Amazon is the no.1 website in Japan too, with revenue of US$12.3 billion reported in 2020. Since the Japanese love to have the latest and greatest in technology, it is no surprise that Apple was second in 2020, with revenue of US$2.7 billion; and the domestic all-round online store, Yodobashi, came in third with US$1.5 billion.

People there are very loyal to the websites they usually buy from, so you’ll have to learn what catches their attention and gains their trust. The learning curve will be difficult to overcome but once you accomplish it, you’ve got yourself a loyal customer for months—even years—to come!

They Like to Shop via Their Phones—a Lot

Japan has a commute culture which undoubtedly affects the way people shop online. Statistics say that 68%-80% of all purchases are made through apps. On weekdays, people buy from 6-8 AM (9-11 PM UTC +9) from their phones, and then the traffic drops only to increase again after 8 PM (11 AM UTC +9). Phones and tablets are used all day throughout the weekend, with tablets being more active on Sundays. 

Desktop computers and laptops are used all throughout the day, but mostly from 8 AM until 8 PM (11 PM – 11 AM UTC +9). Most people in Japan prefer to pay with credit cards, a whopping 65% of them to be precise. Their second choice of payment method is bank-to-bank transfer with 14%, cash comes in third with 13%, other/unspecified payment methods come at 6%, and only 2% use digital wallets.

What is Japan’s Economy Like?

We’re talking about a giant here! Because of its free-market economy (which means that supply and demand dictate the prices) Japan is the third largest economy in the world by GDP (US$5.38 trillion in 2021 and counting) and it is in constant development. In fact, it is the second largest developed economy in the world. Japan is #1 when it comes to tech-related inventions, and the third largest car-manufacturing country. 

What They Expect From You as a Seller

Shipping to a faraway country can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, you have us! When you’re trying to gain interest and purchases from new customers, it can be hard and feel unrewarding at times. As long as you adapt to their wants with consistent messaging, you’ll eventually gain the long-standing loyalty of Japanese shoppers.

Getting packages with same-day or next-day delivery is the norm in Japan. And while they may have more leniency for international shipments, they would not want to wait longer than a week for an item to reach their home. For this reason, you’ll want to be ready to provide updates regarding any potential delays ASAP. 

Some shoppers also like to be able to choose the delivery hour, while others don’t mind if they aren’t at home to receive their package. The latter are usually people who live in blocks and whose homes might be harder to find. No worries though because the Japanese people are very efficient at adapting solutions. These homes will have an apartment block locker that can only be opened with the correct PIN, so it is perfectly safe to drop off a package there.

With all this info in mind, we know you’ll be able to attract long-term customers in Japan who can trust your brand and have confidence in your products. And with PackageHopper’s ability to safely and reliably deliver your orders to Japan will be the foundation of your success in conquering the Japanese e-commerce market.


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