Slightly below the global average, but Japan’s e-commerce growth (CAGR 2023-2027) is very strong for a developed nation. Compare this to the UK's 7% growth.1
E-commerce in Japan is still growing. User penetration (the number of adult consumers who regularly use e-commerce) will be 78.5% by the end of 2023 and is expected to hit 92.8% by 2027. This is impressive growth in the context of Japan's economic place in the world: it is the third largest economy after the USA and China.2
Japan has been relatively slow to adopt online shopping, but it's growing fast. Every year e-commerce takes around 0.5% of the share of total retail as the popularity of online shopping expands. Fast delivery is large part of the rising growth in e-commerce. Speed and convenience are vital.3
While Japanese consumers strongly valued ownership not long ago, consumers are quickly becoming more open to sharing or renting items rather than purchasing. Items include books, bicycles, electric cars, and even clothing.
Equally, the stigma associated with buying used goods has largely lifted, especially as consumers increasingly value sustainability over ‘brand new’.
Brands are using subscriptions for a range of products, from new cars to skincare and beauty products. The subscription economy gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Top trading partners importing to Japan in 2022.4
Unlike other countries, e-commerce in Japan isn’t entirely dominated by fashion and clothing. Food, electrical goods, and interior décor goods are just as important.
Here are the biggest B2C e-commerce market sectors in Japan as of 2021 (in billions of Japanese yen)5:
The top five most popular online marketplaces in Japan6
Annual visitors, Dec 2022
Credit cards are the most popular payment method for online purchases among digital buyers in Japan.7
Another unique payment method in Japan is paying at convenience stores (known as Konbini), which accounts for about a third of payments and is available at 55,000 locations nationwide. This method is especially popular among teenagers without bank accounts or access to credit.
Cash on delivery is also relatively common, with around 20% of online buyers using this method due to its perceived security and anonymity when making online purchases.
Like many countries, Japan has a unique number of national holidays and events that e-commerce providers should look out for.
We asked DHL's local Japan experts to help you overcome the most common challenges when exporting to this key market:
Food products must be clearly labeled in Japanese at the point of sale to indicate their country of origin and any potential allergens. Food Sanitation Laws also apply to other products related to food or human consumption, such as kitchen utensils and cooking ware.
Electrical appliances and materials must meet technical standards and requirements, which affects their labeling and, consequently, their sale or exhibition.
To protect the environment, most businesses are required to recycle certain types of wrapping or packaging materials, including glass, paper, and plastics.
Plants and agricultural products are subject to quarantine requirements.
DHL offers further information through the DHL Trade Automation Service.
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