Are you interested in launching your products on Amazon.jp, but not sure how to start?
We chatted with John Cant from Rising Sun Commerce who specializes in helping brands achieve success in selling on Amazon Japan. Rising Sun Commerce covers a full spectrum of services- from product launch and market research to Amazon Japan account management.
We asked John about the biggest mistakes brands are making when launching on Amazon.jp, as well as the differences between the Japanese and the Amazon US and EU market. Watch the full video, or check out the summary below.
- After the U.S., the three largest Amazon markets are Germany, Japan, and the UK.
- The fulfillment side & PPC management on Amazon.jp are pretty much the same as in the UK or the US market.
- You will need an ‘’importer of goods’’
- You will need a different product compliance report for selling on Amazon Japan (for certain categories)
- You will need listing translation & optimization help from the pros (Japan has 3 alphabets and you do not want to use a Google translate for them)
- Make sure to research your new market. Japanese holidays and vacations are different than in the US or EU. If you are trying to sell vacation and holiday-themed items year-round, it may be a tough sell in this market.
The Most Common Mistakes Sellers & Brands Make When Launching on Amazon Japan
1. Not Following Logistics Requirements
The Amazon FBA centers in Japan work the same as they do in the US & Europe, but what is specific to the Japanese market is an ‘’importer of record’’.
You will need somebody who is responsible for importing your goods into Japan at the point of import. Without an importer, your shipment will be rejected at customs and sent back.
Make sure you do the right paperwork in advance, or there will be a lot of unnecessary costs & headaches.
There are various companies that offer this kind of service you can easily find using a simple Google search, or reach out to John directly for recommendations.
Additional Notes: Shipping to Amazon FBA centers
If the product has been manufactured in China (as most of the products are), one of the advantages of the Japanese market is that you are looking in a much shorter time frame of (re) stocking – only 2 weeks compared to the US and Europe’s 6 -8 weeks (granted you’ve orderly done your paperwork).
2. Using the US, or EU Product Compliance Reports
Certain product categories ( i.e. Electrical, Health & Beauty, Food) require paperwork and compliance reports- the same as in the US & EU market.
But, Japan operates on its own rules, so you have to do it according to its own regulation & testing standards which can be slightly different than the ones in the UK & US.
Generally speaking, if the product is cleared in the US and EU it should be cleared in Japan, but following its own procedure.
3. Not Adjusting Your Amazon Product Listings For Japanese Audience
Japanese market responds extremely well to annotated images. Always try to explain the product’s benefits & use cases through the images.
Japan has three alphabets that make the Amazon listing optimization more challenging, but vital to product performance.
Unfortunately, there are no keyword tools and shortcuts for the Japanese market (yet). Everything has to be done manually.
4. Not Using an Amazon Product Listing Translation Service
One of the most common mistakes is using automated services for translation and/or Google Translate, followed by using bots for customer service.
You will need someone proficient in the Japanese language or a native speaker to handle both, otherwise your product performance will suffer dramatically.
5. Not Doing Your Market Research
If your products are performing well in other markets, chances are they will do so on Amazon Japan too, but there are some exceptions. That is why is very important to research the competition first and check their performance. Find the best selling products in your category. Pay attention to their images, product descriptions and keywords.
You will be surprised with some results, as the Japanese audience does not respond equally to certain products (i.e. cosmetics) as the Western one.
Rising Sun Commerce offers a market research report service for brands before launching in Japan to help make it a success, or stop them from wasting inventory if Japan is not the right opportunity. You can see the examples below:
Seasonal & Cultural Differences
Don’t assume that Japanese consumers are on the same schedules as U.S. or European consumers. For example, Japanese do not celebrate Christmas, so the whole Christmas present culture is not really a thing in Japan.
In fact, the whole ‘’gift giving culture’’ is very different in Japan- for holidays and birthdays Japanese do not seem to give presents as much as you’d expect. If you sell holiday-related products, carefully consider it for Japan.
Japanese people take time off from work for three major occasions during the year. There’s Golden Week in May, Obon in mid-August, and the New Year Holiday in January. If you are trying to sell vacation and holiday-themed items year-round, it may be a tough sell in this market.
Additional Things to Note For Selling on Amazon Japan
1. Amazon Big Dates
Japanese market does have an Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, but it is more Amazon generated & pushed upon the market, than a cultural holiday- therefore it will not perform equally.
2. Something Unique for Selling on Amazon Japan: 7 Day Deals
John mentions a recent addition to the Amazon.jp that are ‘’7-day deals’’- similar to Lightning deals on Amazon.com– which is something he will explore further in the future.
These kinds of 2-6 hr Lightning Deals have been performing great in other markets as they givs your products a significant boost.
Taking into account Amazon Japan has almost the same market size as Amazon UK, you can potentially calculate the results of 7 times more of your product boost? It looks like a good product opportunity to us.
How to Optimize Your Amazon Product Listings Successfully for the Japanese Market?
If you’ve done your research and you think Japan is the right fit for your brand, YLT-translations will be happy to help.
We are proud to offer our services as one of the few who are also doing product listing translations to the Japanese language as well as full listing optimization.
We always follow rigorous quality procedures to ensure every Amazon listing translation meets our high-quality standards.