FBA Alternatives in Japan:
An Ultimate Guide
When we hear about Japan, one thing that usually pops into our mind is advanced technology. They were able to produce humanoid robots, advanced Information Technology infrastructures & innovations, and many more. However, just like other countries, Japan is also a great place to invest in business despite the pricing.
We all know that products from Japan are of high quality, especially the gadgets, automotive, and even retail products they sell – Japan is one of the countries worldwide who has strict standards when it comes to their products. But is it possible for a foreign person to sell their items in Japan knowing their strict standards? Well, yes!
There are a lot of platforms in Japan and even in the USA that allows you to ship products directly to Japan, but you have to be mindful of the products allowable to market in Japan. Let us give you some background about Amazon Japan, other platforms you can also tap, and how to sell effectively in Japan.
Does Japan have Amazon?
Yes, there is also Amazon in Japan. It started back in 2000, selling only books until they expanded by selling limited products.
Are Foreigners Allowed to Sell in Amazon Japan?
Yes, even someone from other countries can sell their items in Amazon provided that they comply with their rules.
If you are already selling or you have an account in Amazon, whichever country you are in, you can expand your store to Japan. You do not need to study Japanese languages for you to sell in Amazon Japan, Amazon will translate your description once you decided to expand your merchant account.
Is FBA Famous in Japan?
Merchants in Japan still prefers FBA as it eases their work, and they can save a lot of time in managing their business.
Just like in any other country, FBA in Japan works the same. Merchants send the item to Amazon Fulfillment Center, and they will handle it until it reached the customers. Also, Amazon handles customer service on behalf of the merchant, and they also give system tracking access to its merchants to monitor their product inventory as well as their sales.
Is FBA Going to Die Soon Because of the Pandemic?
It is not likely so.
Most people around the world and even in Japan are practicing social distancing and cashless transactions to prevent the further spread of the virus. Although there were some advisories about particular products that cannot be purchased online, Japan is still active when it comes to online purchasing.
What are the Famous Ecommerce Sites in Japan Aside from Amazon?
Amazon itself is already famous in Japan, but not the same as it is in the US. However, Japan has its version of Amazon that is called Rakuten Japan.
Rakuten has been in the market since 1997. Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Rakuten, named it as such because Rakuten means “optimism.”
Rakuten is the biggest eCommerce platform in Japan, and just like Amazon, they also expanded worldwide. They have Rakuten Belanja Online that was launched in 2011 then, in 2012, they also launched their platform to Australia, Canada, Spain, and Taiwan. However, Rakuten is not the only biggest marketplace in Japan.
What are the Top Ecommerce Sites in Japan?
As we all know, Rakuten is one of the famous E-commerce sites in Japan that has an average monthly visit of 531 million. But as aforementioned, other E-commerce sites is also known in Japan, here are some.
Yahoo! Auctions Japan is the counterpart of eBay, where items are being posted as an auction as compared to being sold directly. However, one downside of this platform is that the vast majority of the retailers do not offer international shipping. Furthermore, you cannot manually put your bid; instead, the platform automatically bids the price once you choose the item you wanted.
Yahoo! Auctions has an average monthly visit of 141 million.
Another shopping site offered by Yahoo! is the Yahoo! Shopping Japan. Unlike with Yahoo! Auctions, this platform is more of the Amazon where you can purchase the items directly sans the bidding process.
Yahoo! Shopping gets an average of 90 million visits per month.
Mercari is somehow a newbie compared to Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping and Auctions. This platform started in 2013 and is known as the fastest-growing E-commerce company because, within a year, Mercari got over 1 million individual listings on its platform.
Mercari has an average monthly visitor of 85 million.
If you are into electronic commerce that wishes to sell in Japan, DMM is the right platform for you. DMM solely allows products related to gaming software, videos on demand, and even eBooks.
Although most of the products they are promoting are getting obsolete, DMM still has over 73 million average monthly visitors.
Zozo Town is an E-commerce platform focusing on fashion and footwear. It started last 2004, and it has expanded to the various country since then.
Zozo Town offers both local and international brands that are also available in 72 countries and territories. It has over 56 million average monthly visitors.
One of the largest E-commerce sites in Japan, Wowma, has over 20 million products that keep them staying up to date.
They offer a wide variety of products that you need. With this, it has an average monthly visitors of over 27 million.
Rakuma or Fril is a product of Rakuten Japan and is a retail B2C E-commerce company. It is the Japanese counterpart of Aliexpress that offers affordable retail products that can be shipped quickly.
Rakuma has an average monthly visitors of over 17 million.
Formerly known as GMarket, Qoo10, is a Singapore-based E-commerce company that expanded its service to Japan. This platform is a joint venture with eBay that also offers massive products from home decor to electronics.
They have over 15 million average monthly visitors.
General Guidelines in Selling Products in Japan
In general, Japan extremely prohibits the selling of the following products in their country either by their people or foreign investors:
- Narcotics and related items
- Firearms part and ammunition
- Explosives and gun powder
- Precursor materials for chemical weapons
- Germs for bioterrorism
- Counterfeit goods or imitation
- Obscene materials (books or any materials that may harm public safety or morals
FBA in Japan: Fees and Other Expenses a Merchant MUST Know
Just like in any platform, there are fees to be collected on the following E-commerce sites once you start your listings. But what are these fees that you need to keep in mind? Are they affordable compared to the US?
Amazon US and Amazon Japan may be under the same company, but the subscription plan in Japan is a bit higher compared to the USA. The Professional subscription plan in Amazon USA is $39.99 per month that includes the referral fee; while in Amazon Japan, the monthly subscription rate is 4,900 Yen or around $46.75 plus the referral fee for every listing sold.
However, in some platforms like Mercari and Yahoo! Shopping, there are no initial costs collected; the only fees collected are the shipping and a commission per item sold that ranges from 2.5% to 10%.
Which is the Best Platform For Your Business?
There is no single answer to this.
Prior you choose the best platform for your business, here are several factors that you need to consider before signing up:
- Are the products you are selling allowed on the platform?
- Can your sales sustain your monthly subscription plan and other fees?
- Are there enough visits or traffic on your niche?
- How competitive your niche on the platform?
Although a particular E-commerce site has millions of traffic in Japan, it does not mean that that is already the best platform for your company. Japan is known for having strict guidelines on the items being market to their country – this is to avoid inconvenience and blaming the government for allowing substandard materials circulating in their country.
Never Take Logistics Services for Granted
We all know that Japan is a country that values time. Any delays will give them a negative impact since every second count. Although the shipping time is no longer the control of the merchant, choosing the right logistics company is essential to keep the relationship with your customers at its finest.
Fulfillment centers are the best option since they will manage everything from storage, packing, inventory, and shipping – and if you are lucky enough, you would be able to find a fulfillment center that offers customer service as well like Zhenhub.
Zhenhub is a logistics company that offers a variety of logistics services internationally. They offer warehousing, fulfillment, shipping services, and even shipping software tracking partnered with a lot of international delivery services worldwide.
If you are interested, you may leave your contact details below, and we will gladly assist you in growing your business.