Thinking of selling products on Amazon Japan? You’re on the right track!
A ‘successful’ Amazon seller is viewed as someone who lists products online, gradually increases sales, re-invests in marketing and ad campaigns, and eventually becomes profitable—but the journey doesn’t end there!
Even if you’re performing well on Amazon US or one of the European markets, expanding to a smaller marketplace and seeking out greener pastures should always be on your checklist.
To explain why, let’s take Amazon Japan as an example. Japan appears to be a small marketplace but did you know it’s the world’s third-largest economy where 71% of all shoppers prefer to make purchases online?
Combine this with the fact that Amazon is currently the biggest eCommerce player in the country and you have the perfect opportunity to establish a foreign presence and increase monthly revenues!
But be wary; compliance with strict regulatory bodies and import laws are just some of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome.
In this blog, you’re going to learn how to navigate through the Asian marketplace landscape and sell on Amazon Japan the easy way!
Amazon keeps adding to the list of marketplaces every few years. Yesterday, new EU zones had sellers flocking from all over the world. Today, Amazon Japan is the new frontier. Here are a few Amazon Japan pros you might not know about:
Although Amazon has been in Japan for more than 2 decades, the online marketplace remained in the shadow of its popular counterpart: Rakuten. But Amazon has been aggressively ramping up its growth efforts for the past few years and now owns the largest share of eCommerce sales.
If the current stats and future trends are anything to go by, now is the best time to sell on Amazon Japan.
As of June 2021, visitors to Amazon.co.jp numbered nearly 650 million. That’s a massive number of people for such a relatively unsaturated marketplace. Fewer sellers also result in lower chances of hijackers leeching off your sales.
A big deterrent for entering into marketplaces like UAE and Japan is the language barrier. Thanks to FBA, you won’t have to deal with non-English speaking carriers; Amazon offers customer support in the local language whereas the seller central dashboard features an all-English interface. With FBA, selling in Japan is simple.
Given how technologically advanced Japan is as a country, it’s hardly surprising to discover multiple payment options available to both Amazon sellers and buyers. There’s cash on delivery, credit cards, and e-money options; getting paid in your local currency won’t be a problem.
On board to sell on Amazon Japan? Let’s begin!
There are two ways to create an Amazon Japan account. The first is by visiting the official Amazon.co.jp website and signing up for an account. The second method is to log into your current seller central account, go to the Inventory tab, and click on Sell Globally.
The “Global Dashboard” window will pop up containing a list of foreign marketplaces you can expand to. Select Japan as your country of choice and click on the Register Now button.
Fortunately, you don’t need a Japanese entity or a local bank account to start selling on Amazon Japan, your current bank account or local entity will suffice. However, you cannot use the same name as your US or EU-based company. Instead, register with your brand name but add “Japan” or “JP” at the end.
To successfully complete the Amazon Japan seller identity verification process, make sure you have the following documents on hand:
Note: Don’t submit these documents using images taken from a smartphone—seller verification requires you to upload scanned copies of your government I.D and bank statement in PDF.
Similar to other Amazon marketplaces, you can sell on Amazon Japan by subscribing to the Individual or Professional plan. With the individual plan, sellers have to pay ¥100 for each item sold. The professional plan has no per-unit fee but a ¥4,900 fixed per-month cost.
There’s also the referral fee which is percentage based and varies according to the product category. To know more about the different types of seller fees on Amazon Japan, visit the official Amazon JP selling plan page.
Note: Sellers become eligible for subscription fee discounts if they link their Seller Central accounts across global Amazon marketplaces. For example, if you maintain Professional selling plan accounts in North America ($39.99 USD/mo.), Europe (€39.99/mo.) and Japan (¥4,900/mo.), Amazon will only charge you $39.99 USD. For more information, visit Amazon’s official Monthly subscription fee page.
One of the best ways to sell a product online in Japan is through Amazon FBA private labeling. With private label, you create a brand, source a product, market it to millions of potential customers, all while outsourcing logistics and customer support to Amazon.
You can hire local translators to handle product listing and customer support and not have to learn a single word of Japanese!
What products are popular with Japanese buyers? Which product niches have unmet demand yet are not seller saturated? Before answering these question, consider the following points related to expanding into Amazon Japan:
Expanding to Japan just because you can is not a sound strategy—assess your seller performance first. How are your monthly sales figures? Are you struggling to break even? Are supplier issues forcing you to look for new partners every few months?
Expanding to Japan—or any other foreign Amazon marketplace—should be considered after some measurable degree of success locally or if you feel as though your product will be better received on other marketplaces, which brings us to the second point.
Amazon sellers looking to take their product abroad need to start asking the right questions, one of which is: does product opportunity exist in the new marketplace? Audience preferences tend to vary from one state or country to another, so what about people who live in an entirely different continent?
A common challenge with expanding into new marketplaces is figuring out customer demand. To assist ambitious sellers with goals of expanding into the Amazon Japan marketplace, Amazon conducted a seminar where they explained everything there is to know about selling on Amazon Japan. Part of this seminar included product categories popular with Japanese buyers.
You can find more information about the Key Steps to Launch in Amazon Japan seminar here. To save you time, here’s a list of product categories popular with Japanese buyers:
Note: One of the easiest ways of discovering winning products on Amazon Japan is by visiting the website and clicking on “Best Sellers”. Select the product category of interest to discover products buyers are interested in!
Knowing the local tax and legal issues is vital; going against the laws of the land can result in hefty fines!
The first thing we recommend is to visit the Amazon Japan Restricted Products page and ensure your product (the one you’re selling in your current marketplace) or the product you plan on selling does not fall within the prohibited for sale product list.
In the Amazon Japan seller account creation section above, we explained how selling on Amazon Japan is possible with your existing US or EU Amazon account. In regards to legal considerations, a case can be made for creating a separate Amazon Japan seller central account.
That’s because Amazon may attempt to translate your listings into Japanese for localization purposes. However, a bot-translated listing may result in unfavorable words or product descriptions that go against rules set by Japanese regulators and authorities.
Hiring translation service providers who are familiar with the Amazon marketplace helps mitigate this risk and also makes your product listings more appealing and relatable to local audiences. Use Amazon’s Service Provider Network channel to find reputable translators in Japan.
When selling on Amazon JP, you are expected to pay consumption tax and your product price must not exclude tax or mention tax figures. Also, some goods will be subject to custom duties.
Sellers are also not allowed to import inventory in the name of Amazon or display Amazon as the consignee, importer of record, or declarant on any customs documentations.
Note: Visit the Japanese National Tax Agency page if you want to learn more about how taxation works in Japan.
Amazon Japan FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant or Self-Fulfillment) function as they do in other marketplaces but with a caveat.
Before we explain the factors that make Amazon selling in Japan different from other places, you should know that Japanese customers are accustomed to near-perfect shipping times and customer services. Additionally, customer reviews and feedback are of more importance than, let’s say, brand image.
If you’re new to the region, we strongly advise going for FBA to remove logistics concerns off your back. Also, since FBA fees also cover customer support, you won’t have to worry about responding to queries and questions in Japanese!
Now, there are two main shipping and fulfillment concerns you should know about before selling on Amazon JP:
To get your inventory into Japan, you can either use the Service Provider Network to find Amazon-recommended shipping service providers or search online on places like Alibaba.com. It’s not hard to find freight forwarding companies that ship products to a Japanese fulfillment center while taking care of all the paperwork involved.
Note: The IOR needs to be a Japanese entity. The government does not allow foreign parties to act as the IOR for Amazon sellers.
Emerging Amazon marketplaces like Japan offer exciting opportunities for established US and EU-based sellers. And while this blog will arm you with the knowledge needed to enter into Amazon.co.jp and start selling, to succeed in Japan, you’ll need to continually learn and adapt to changes in policies and competitor strategies.
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