Japanese eCommerce Platform Selection for American Companies

The two main eCommerce platforms in Japan, Rakuten and Amazon Japan, hold a combined 43% of total eCommerce market share in the country. Amazon Japan currently holds 24% of total eCommerce market share in Japan while Rakuten holds 19%. Since 2013, Amazon Japan has made efforts to increase brand presence and eventually eclipse Rakuten in market share in 2016. It is important to note that the remaining percentage of Japan’s eCommerce market share is largely segmented. Rakuten and Amazon offer customers unique shopping experiences. Amazon appeals to consumers looking for quick and easy shopping experience while Rakuten appeals to consumers looking to browse and explore new products. By pursuing selling strategies on both eCommerce platforms, American companies would be able to reach a wide array of Japanese consumers.

American companies should consider entering the Japanese market on Amazon before debuting product on Rakuten. The high fixed and variable costs associated with selling on Rakuten make the platform a less profitable entry point. When selling on Rakuten, merchants take responsibility for creating store content in the native language. International merchants are also responsible for providing customer service support in Japanese. Although Rakuten has partnerships with third-party service providers that specialize in these areas, they come as an additional cost to the merchant.

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