2024 Roadmap to Selling into Amazon Japan

Are you eyeing the Japanese market for your products but feeling lost in a sea of questions?

From pondering product-market fit to navigating the intricacies of localization and compliance, the journey can seem daunting.

Group 7035 (1)Today we sit down with Gary Huang, who is the founder of 80/20 Sourcing and & Figure Seller Summit to guide you through the maze with six essential bridges to success.

Whether you're a seasoned seller or a newcomer to the world of e-commerce, this comprehensive guide will illuminate the path ahead, offering actionable insights and expert advice to ensure your venture into Japan's bustling marketplace is nothing short of triumphant.

Bridge 1
Product-Market Fit: Will my product sell in Japan? 

Asset 20-100-1What are the niches that best suit this marketplace? How can I verify the demand for my designs in Japan culturally?

This is the million-dollar question. To answer that you need to gauge 4 key variables.

  • Market Size - Amazon Product Opportunity Explorer 

    This is a tool from Amazon that will help you size up how big the market for your product is in
    Japan. Best of all, this data is directly from Amazon, so you can trust that it is 100% accurate.

  • Keyword Search Volume - Helium 10, Jungle Scout, and Data Dive all support Amazon Japan

    You can use them in a similar way as you do for keyword research in the Amazon US or EU marketplaces.

  • Competition - Amazon.co.jp

    First, some good news - Amazon.co.jp has an English language setting. Simply set it to English, and you can get all of the Japanese product listings translated to English. It's not 100%, but it is more than enough for our research purposes right now. So, do a simple search on Amazon.co.jp, and you will find out which of your competitors are already selling in Japan. You may be pleasantly surprised that most of them are not there yet, which presents a BIG OPPORTUNITY.

    Japanese Kitchen
  • Japanese Culture 

    But perhaps my favorite tool to learn about the Japanese marketplace and how my product may be used is Youtube.

    If you sell a kitchen product, you can “walk through” a Japanese kitchen by searching for “Japanese kitchen walkthrough” on Youtube. (Example: Idiot's Guide to Japanese Kitchens by Rachel and Jun)

    This will help you visualize and better understand how Japanese people use your product (or if they use it at all). By following the steps and the tools above you can get a better idea of product-market fit for your product in Japan and whether your product will sell in Japan. 

Bridge 2
Japanification - localization

There are 4 key things that Japanese shoppers pay attention to when shopping online, according to Ritu Java, a Japan localization and PPC expert who has lived in Japan for 17 years. All of them can be done by sellers who don’t speak Japanese.

Let's be honest —Japanese is a tough language. There are 4 scripts that are used in various situations. The best way is to hire a native speaker with Amazon copywriting experience to help you translate. The quick way is to use ChatGPT. It is miles ahead of Google Translate and can help generate a draft of your product listing translation into Japanese. However, I recommend hiring a native Japanese speaker to check and polish it before going live with the listing. In terms of actually selling in Japan, the good news is that Amazon Japan Seller Central can be set to English. This means if you’re already familiar with US or EU Seller Central, you will feel right at home setting up to sell in Amazon Japan.

Aesthetics - Japanese people love to beautify the packaging
Take, for example, the art of gift-giving in Japan. If you go to a Japanese department store, the basement level will often have an entire floor dedicated to selling sweets. When you purchase a box of sweets, the staff will intricately gift-wrap it, as if you were a King or Queen. This level of aesthetics exemplifies the expectations of Japanese consumers.

Details and Data
Channel Bakers Email and Social Media Swipe CopyJapanese people have a keen appreciation for details. Take for example a box of wet wipes. On the packaging, you'll find a meticulous level of detail: alcohol content, size, thickness, exact uses (devices, outdoors, kitchen, etc.), number of wipes, and more—details that many Americans might overlook in a simple pack of wet wipes.

These intricacies are crafted to instill trust in the shopper's mind and enhance the likelihood of a sale.

Culture and Respect
The language and tone of the copywriting must be more polite than your usual copywriting for the US market. A big “no no” is to say that you are a small family business and to thank them for the purchase. That is not culturally appropriate in Japan! 


Bridge 3
Import and Compliance

Are there any limitations on what type of products can be sold and are there ways around the limitations? Japan's import and compliance laws can be complex, but the good news is that they can be navigated with the right guidance. Finding the right agency to help you navigate through the forest of Japanese import laws and regulations can make this process easily surmountable.

One example is a kitchen product that I used to sell in the US market. Several years ago I considered selling this into Japan and I did the keyword research and ran the numbers. I got excited because none of my competitors were selling in Japan.

This could have been a wide-open market.

However, I emailed an import compliance company and they recommended NOT to import this product to Japan. I found out that one of the components used for this product was illegal in Japan for the general public.  It could only be sold to professional restaurants and cafes. Fortunately, I spoke with a Japanese import/compliance agency which saved me a ton of headaches down the line.



Bridge 4
Shipping, Logistics, and 3PL

This challenge presents a significant benefit because Japan is situated in close proximity to your Asian suppliers. Adjacent to China and not far from India, Vietnam, and Thailand, Japan offers the advantage of reduced shipping times and costs when transporting your product from the factory to the Amazon Japan fulfillment center. We're talking about a mere 7-10 days compared to the 30-45 days or more it might take otherwise.

Additionally, shipping costs will be considerably lower. For 7 or 8 Figure Sellers, this realization should be a lightbulb moment, as it can release cash flow, allowing for less capital tied up in product inventory due to faster order turnover. In other words, rather than keeping 3-4 months of inventory in stock, you can effectively shave that in half depending on your inventory management.

Another significant benefit is the absence of the US-China Trade war in Japan. Consequently, you will eliminate 25% or more tariffs from your landed costs. On top of that, Japan boasts numerous free trade agreements with countries such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, and over a dozen others worldwide. This means you will lower your landed costs further.  

That can instantly help improve your margins and profitability compared to sourcing from China and selling in the US or EU. The key takeaway is that selling in Japan will provide a logistical and cash flow ADVANTAGE to your business once you calculate the costs.


Bridge 5
Launch Strategy

Every seller wants to launch their product with a BANG. The goal is to capitalize on the "honeymoon period" when your product first launches to secure a high ranking on Page 1 of search results on Amazon.

Amazon reviewsIf you are already selling on Amazon US or EU or any other marketplace, here's some good news: you can carry over your reviews from Amazon US/EU/other markets to Amazon Japan. This means if you have 700 reviews on Amazon.com (US), you can launch with 700 reviews on Amazon Japan from Day 1.

Another advantage of the lower competition on Amazon Japan is that the review threshold is lower. As observed earlier this week, the best-selling "thick yoga mat" in Japan only has a 3.9-star rating with 373 reviews. In contrast, the US bestseller has 4.6 stars and over 70,000 reviews. This indicates that if your review count was in the middle of the pack on Amazon.com, you could potentially lead the pack on Amazon Japan. Instantly having social proof with your reviews can build trust for Japanese shoppers, thereby increasing your conversion rates and sales.


Bridge 6
Marketing and Advertising Optimization

Once you have your listing localized and selling the next step is to pour fuel on the fire with marketing and advertising. In terms of Amazon PPC, there have been many new promotions added in 2024, providing even more rich data from Amazon. The good news is that Amazon's PPC costs in Japan are lower on average than Amazon's US and EU counterparts. Therefore, you will likely achieve better ROI from your PPC ad spend in Japan.

In addition, Japan has a “follow the crowd” mentality, which means that Japanese influencers can significantly impact the virality of your product and skyrocket your sales. Regarding social media, the #1 social media app is Line, boasting an 82.5% penetration rate.

Nick Katz, a 7-figure seller in Japan, emphasizes the importance of building a customer list on Line. He capitalizes on this platform by sending messages to his list every time there's a holiday in Japan, typically on Friday and Sunday. And he crashes his web server every time he does that (for non-Amazon sales) because shoppers expect sales around holidays. These are fantastic methods to scale your business through marketing on Amazon Japan.


Ready to start selling into Amazon Japan?

These are the 6 Bridges to Selling in Japan. Remember, the Obstacle is the Way. By doing the work and selling on Japan the right way, you will be able to build a defensible moat around your business as you expand into a new marketplace in 2024.

If this guide was helpful and you are serious about selling on Amazon Japan, we'd like to invite you to join us at the 7 Figure Japan Mastermind in Okinawa, Japan, from April 8th to 10th, 2024. Learn more about this event by clicking the button below.

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