Selling in Japan: E-commerce Landscape in Japan [Summary]

This is a summary of the e-commerce landscape in Japan and the three marketing trends you should know before selling products online in Japan from btrax’s blog, freshtrax. You can read the full article here.


  • Japan ranks as the world’s 4th largest e-commerce market following China, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
  • It might be difficult to reach a large audience and generate sales unless you already have strong brand awareness. One solution to increase your company’s brand awareness is to sell your products on a marketplace where your target audience can already be found.

Top Japanese B2C e-commerce marketplaces
Data is from June 2019.

  1. Rakuten: 
    • Total annual sales: 3.43 trillion JPY (31.7 billion USD)
    • 365.37 million monthly site visits
      • It holds a huge and loyal customer base with over 100 million members.
      • Rakuten offers a vast e-commerce marketplace along with a variety of services including mobile payments, online banking, insurance, online travel booking, music streaming, video streaming, job boards, e-books, etc.
      • Approximately 70% of members use Rakuten services at least once a year.
  2. Amazon: 
    • Total annual sales: 2.75 trillion JPY (25.42 billion USD)
    • 519.72 million monthly site visits
  3. Yahoo! Shopping: 
    • Total annual sales: 731 billion JPY (6.76 billion USD)
    • 78.99 million monthly site visits
  4. ZOZOTOWN: 
    • Total annual sales: 308 billion JPY (2.85 billion USD)
    • 29.43 million monthly site visits
      • It is the largest fashion-focused e-commerce marketplace in Japan with more than 7,000 brands selling on it.
      • Over 8 million people make purchases on ZOZOTOWN annually.
  5. Wowma!: 
    • Total annual sales: 99 billion JPY (915 million USD)
    • 17.77 million monthly site visits
      • It is a new marketplace that launched in 2017.
      • Many of Wowma!’s main users are young women who also use au.
  6. Qoo10: 
    • total annual sales: 93 billion JPY (859 million USD)
    • 9.66 million monthly site visits
      • Qoo10.jp was acquired by eBay in 2018 and is currently operated by eBay Japan.
      • Its customer base overlaps with Wowma!’s as it is very popular among young women.

The e-commerce landscape in Japan

  • In 2018, the total size of the Japanese e-commerce market was 166 billion USD (1 USD = 108.37 JPY).
  • The Japanese e-commerce market is broken into 3 categories: 51.7% retail, 37.0% services, and 11.3% digital content

3 marketing trends you should know before selling products online in Japan

  1. Consumers expect lower prices on the internet
    • In Japan, 45% of products are cheaper online, 48% of products are the same price as brick and mortar stores, and 7% of products are cheaper at brick and mortar stores.
    • Japanese online stores typically lower prices because online shopping is not a very popular shopping method for many Japanese consumers.
  2. The rise of the C2C market
      • The market size of the second-hand C2C marketplace was estimated at 5.9 billion USD in 2018 (1 USD = 108 JPY).
      • The market has substantially grown in the past 6 years since the first second-hand C2C marketplace app was launched in 2012. 
      •  The online auction market size in 2018 was approximately 9.34 billion USD.
      • The estimated online auction market size has continued to grow even after the rise of second-hand C2C marketplaces because the motivation of the sellers and buyers are different in these two marketplaces
  3. Seniors are shopping on mobile
        • According to a research paper by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 85.5% of Japanese people in their 40s and 72.2% in their 50s owned a smartphone in 2017.
        • The research paper also stated that the monthly consumption expenditure of those in their 50s is 2,700 USD while for those in their 20s, it is 1,570 USD.
        • 27.7% of the Japanese population are people older than 65 years old.

For more insights and information about business in Japan, follow btrax on LinkedIn and Twitter.


This article was summarized by btrax’s own Julie Saephan. Julie works in Marketing and strives to connect businesses and consumers together through marketing and brand management.