Psst: do you want a way to make more sales, protect your brand against competition, and build a more profitable business, that most other Amazon sellers are not doing?
The answer: start selling on Amazon Japan. Amazon JP is a marketplace that’s growing at a fast pace, and holds untapped potential for western sellers.
Expanding to sell on Amazon Japan is a little more difficult than with an English-speaking marketplace like Amazon UK or Canada, or even expanding to non-English European marketplaces. But it’s also not as big of a struggle as you expect. Read on and we’ll explain how to do it.
Why Sell on Amazon Japan?
Amazon Japan presents a way for you to make more sales and build out diversified sales channels that protect against common threats to Amazon businesses.
Amazon in Japan is not quite the behemoth that it is in the US – but it’s coming close. It makes over 13 billion in net sales. That makes it the 14th largest online store in the world.
Amazon Japan gets over 550 million visits per month, slightly above Rakuten (the closest competitor amongst the most popular ecommerce platforms in Japan), and more than seven times more than any other competing online marketplaces.
As the 11th most populated country in the world, the Japanese market as a whole has massive potential, and the numbers produced by Amazon are still below what you might expect.
That means not only can you get your product in front of hundreds of millions of additional customers, you can also do so when competition is relatively low. Imagine starting to sell on Amazon US ten years ago.
This is an excellent way to make more sales. You don’t need to come up with a new product idea – just replicate what’s already working for the new marketplace.
It also gives you a diversified line of revenue. The more marketplaces you sell on, the less the risk. If sales on one of your marketplaces drop (due to ranking updates, new competition, negative tactics from other sellers, etc), you’ll have more revenue streams to keep your business running.
Learn More: all you need to know about Amazon Global Selling: the benefits, and how to expand to international markets.
Steps to Selling on Amazon Japan
Now let’s look at how to sell on Amazon Japan.
Some of the steps here are easy – such as registering an Amazon seller account for the Japanese site, and setting up a fulfillment method.
Others – like understanding Japanese customers, Japanese consumer behavior and creating optimized, localized product listings – are a little more difficult. But it’s not as difficult as you think, and the upside is definitely worth the hassle.
Let’s dive deeper.
The first step is to create your Amazon Japan account.
This is very straightforward, assuming you’re already selling on Amazon somewhere else in the world. From your Seller Central account, go to Inventory, then click Sell Globally.
From there you can select the Japanese marketplace, and register your seller account straight away.
You’ll be able to use almost all the same credentials you used for your original seller account. You don’t need a Japanese bank account or a business registered in Japan. You can reuse the same bank and business details.
You’ll just need to go through the verification process again, which is straightforward, and you’ll be ready to start adding products. You will notice that Seller Central is in Japanese the first time you log in – but you can set this to English, or your preferred language.
This video from Amazon provides more on the basic steps to setting up a Japanese Seller Central account and starting to sell on Amazon Japan:
Considerations for International Sellers
Selling on Amazon Japan is largely the same as any other marketplace. But if you’re transitioning from another market, such as the US, there are some things you’ll want to consider.
To start with, some selling fees, such as referral fees and fulfillment fees, may be different. Look into this early on, as it may affect your pricing strategy.
Amazon Japan has the same system with Individual and Professional selling plans. As an Individual seller you get charged no monthly subscription fee, just a flat fee per product sold. While the Professional selling plan charges a monthly fee, plus referral fees.
The fees are 100 Yen per unit for Individual, and 4900 Yen per month for the Professional plan, which are both roughly equal to the US marketplace.
You can get more info on fees for the Japanese marketplace here.
Aside from that, it’s important to do some research into Japanese customers and the Japanese market. People in Japan likely won’t respond to products and marketing the same as in other areas. If you try to replicate everything, beat for beat, as you do it back home, you’ll probably have a hard time finding success.
See what other sellers are doing, what businesses do in terms of marketing, and what products seem to be successful in Japan.
Learn and understand the market before you launch and you’ll increase your chances of success.
Product Listing Optimization
Once you’ve got your selling account set up, you’ll add your product listings for Amazon Japan.
The key focus you need when creating Japanese product listings is localization. Your listings need to be in Japanese, need to resonate with Japanese consumers, and also have to be keyword-optimized for Japanese searches.
While technically you can just Google translate your original listing into Japanese, this is far from optimal.
Unless you speak Japanese, you’ll probably want to hire someone to help with this. It’s best to have a native speaker who understands the language and terminology used by locals, how to write copy that sounds natural, and how Japanese shoppers usually search for products.
You might want to hire a freelancer for this, or an agency that specializes in helping international businesses launch in Japan (Rising Sun Commerce is one such agency).
As with any other marketplace, your success can live or die by the quality of your product listing, and how well it’s optimized for conversions and keywords. Leave no stone unturned in creating the perfect listing.
Fulfillment and Shipping
As with any other marketplace, one of the key considerations for selling on Amazon Japan is how to fulfill and ship products.
The regular fulfillment options such as Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), and Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) all apply in Amazon Japan. Like other marketplaces, FBA is generally the best option, as it allows you to ship once, store your products in an Amazon fulfillment center, and let Amazon handle the shipping, returns, and customer service.
It also helps simplify any import duties you’ll need to pay. If you’re shipping to Japan, you’ll need to be aware of Japan’s customs regulations and import taxes, which can impact the cost and delivery time of your products.
Also consider the shipping carrier you use and their rates and services for shipping to Japan.
Managing returns and refunds is also important when selling on Amazon Japan. Amazon Japan has specific policies and guidelines for handling returns and refunds, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these and have a clear process in place for managing them.
Ultimately, the fulfillment and shipping options you choose will depend on your business needs and goals. Consider the cost, speed, and reliability of each option, as well as any additional benefits or limitations they may offer, to determine the best approach for your business.
Read More: all the pros and cons of FBA vs FBM for Amazon Sellers.
Marketing and Advertising
Once you’ve set up your product listings and you’re ready to fulfill orders, it’s time to get out there and promote your products.
Again, this is not drastically different to selling on Amazon anywhere else in the world. You have the same advertising options you’ll be familiar with, including Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display ads.
In addition to advertising on Amazon, there are other strategies you can use to promote your products on the platform. For example, participating in Amazon Japan’s Lightning Deals or Best Deals promotions can help increase sales and visibility. Discounts or promotions are other great ways to incentivize customers to purchase your products.
Then there’s external traffic, which works in Japan as it does everywhere else. External traffic is a great way to drive sales and boost rankings – but you’ll probably need a native speaker to help ensure your ads sound natural to Japanese shoppers.
To create effective ads for Japan, it’s important to understand the unique cultural and linguistic nuances of the region. For instance, Japanese consumers tend to place a high value on quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, so it’s important to highlight these aspects in your ad copy. You should also consider localizing your ads to use Japanese language and keywords.
Tools for the Job: a lot of popular Amazon seller tools these days work for Amazon Japan. Check with your favorite tools and service providers to ensure this is the case. SellerMetrics, for example, works on Amazon Japan, and is probably the best option out there to help you manage PPC campaigns for the Japanese marketplace.
Tips for Success
Let’s finish with some tips to help you be successful when selling on Amazon Japan.
Japanese buyers put a premium on customer service, so make it a priority to provide top-quality service.
This will have to be provided in Japanese – so again, you’ll want to look into hiring a Japanese customer service manager or hiring an agency to handle this.
If you’re managing it in-house, pay attention to the style and efficiency of your communication. Japanese consumers prefer clear and concise communication that is polite, friendly, and professional. You’ll want to respond to customer inquiries and messages promptly and address any concerns or issues that may arise in a timely and courteous manner.
Reviews & Feedback
Managing your customer reviews and feedback is always important, but more so in Japan. Japanese consumers are known for being highly discerning and value the opinions of others, so it’s important to monitor and respond to customer feedback in a timely and professional manner.
Learn More: everything you need to know about getting high-quality, legitimate reviews on Amazon.
Building Trust & Brand Recognition
Be aware that it will take some time to build up trust and brand recognition in the new market.
Japanese consumers can be somewhat hesitant to trust new players. They also place a high value on word-of-mouth recommendations, which will take some time for your brand to generate.
It’s important to do everything the right way, and stay persistent, even if it seems like you’re having a hard time breaking through. Once you do begin to build up a name for your brand in the Japanese market, you’ll find this to be an incredibly profitable sales channel.
Tips and Content from Amazon
Finally, don’t forget to check out Amazon’s free resources related to selling on Amazon Japan. Amazon wants you to be successful in Japan, and any other marketplace, so they’ve put out a ton of helpful content for sellers who aspire to do that.
Go to the Amazon Japan section of the Amazon Global Selling website for all you need to know. You’ll find a step-by-step walkthrough on expanding to Japan, tools like the Amazon Currency Converter, webinars, Japanese holidays and much more.
Check out this video for one company’s experience of successfully expanding to Amazon Japan:
For more, Amazon conducted a webinar on selling on Amazon Japan. You can check out the slides, which contain a lot of valuable information to help you get started, here.
Want to make the most of what Amazon provides brand owners to help them succeed on Amazon?
Make sure you’ve got a real brand, signed up to Amazon Brand Registry. This gives you access to features like Amazon Storefronts, A+ Content, Amazon Attribution and the Brand Referral Bonus. Today, these tools (along with having a recognizable brand) are essential if you want your Amazon business to have staying power.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, behind only the US and China. It’s digital, with 71% of Japanese shoppers making purchases online. And its Amazon marketplace is the perfect way for you to enter this market and take advantage.
As we mention in our guides on expanding to Amazon Europe and Canada, taking your brand international is one of the best strategies to diversify your business and grow your sales. If your products are selling on one marketplace, more often than not they’ll be able to sell on another.
Amazon Japan takes a bit of work to get your translations right, and to ensure you’re marketing and communicating to shoppers the right way. But with the size and potential of the marketplace, it’s well worth the effort.
Much of the basic steps to selling on Amazon are already done. You’ve got an Amazon account, you know what to sell, you know the ins and outs of your product category. It’s a crime that more Amazon sellers don’t utilize this opportunity to increase their sales.
If you can replicate your products’ success in a few different markets, you’ll have yourself a much more resilient business, protected against the swings and roundabouts of being an Amazon seller, bringing in more profit and cash flow you can use to further invest in growing your brand.
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