Japan is a huge market.
Reasons why almost all foreign products provide you with business opportunities.
Japan is a huge market with the population of approximately 128.0 million ("National Census" for 2010 by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of International Affairs and Communications), monthly disposable income of approximately ¥390,000 ("Family Income and Expenditure Survey" for 2010 by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of International Affairs and Communications), and EC market size of approximately ¥176.305 trillion ("Survey on Actual Condition and Market Size of Electronic Commerce" for 2010 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry).
Furthermore, the Japanese market is characterized in that there are no religious taboos and that the Japanese people have the capacity to accept unique and high-quality products and services.
Furthermore, the yen exchange rate remains at a record high level against dollar and Euro in the unsteady global economy demonstrated by European debt crisis, for example. To take advantage of the strong yen, consumers trying to purchase inexpensive products coming from the United States and European countries are increasing in Japan, and also cross-border EC, namely purchasing products directly from overseas, is also increasing. One out of every five Japanese EC users utilize cross-border EC.
Two major reasons for using cross-boarder EC are "price difference" and "unavailability at home." Backed by the strong yen, even most of the products available in Japan can be purchased cheaper by cross-border EC, even with international shipping cost and customs duties taken into consideration. In addition, there is no other choice but to purchase products unavailable in Japan in countries where they are available, or purchase the same using cross-border EC. In other words, most of overseas products provide you with opportunities to enter the Japanese market at present, benefiting from the strong yen.
Chart : Reasons for using cross-border EC
Surprising fact: The hardest barrier is the language.
Further surprising fact is as follows: According to the survey by the Ministry of International Affairs and Communications *1, approximately 50% of the Japanese people surveyed do not use cross-border EC because they do not understand the language.
Chart : Reasons for not using cross-border.
Japanese people study English at school for six years or longer, but once they go out into the world, their opportunities to use English diminish, and the number of Japanese who understand English websites is not large.
News that major corporations such as Rakuten, Inc., which operates an internet mail-order website Rakuten Ichiba, and Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., which manages casual fashion store UNIQLO, would use English as an in-house official language recently grabbed our attention, but that is a tendency shown by just a fraction of Japanese companies. Practically, most of Japanese people rarely have opportunities to use English in their daily life.
Big business opportunities
Big business opportunities are just in front of you.
Most of overseas products provide you with business opportunities backed by price difference resulting from strong yen. Despite that Japanese people are paying close attention to overseas products, websites in English-speaking countries are rarely introduced in Japanese language. Consequently, Japanese people are deprived of opportunities to purchase products from overseas countries because they do not know what kind of products are available or understand their purchasing procedure. If Japanese versions of English websites were available, about half of Japanese people who use EC but do not use cross-border EC would start purchasing products from overseas countries any moment from now.
"Price difference" and "limited availability of Japanese version of English websites" are business opportunities available only at present. Nobody can tell what turn the exchange rate would take. Some overseas companies attempting to increase sales in the attractive Japanese market have already entered the market and started supplying products. Needless to say, first mover’s advantage will fade with time.
It is not too late now to expand your business, capitalizing on that advantage.
If only your English website is rewritten into Japanese, you can open the door to the EC market in Japan, which is estimated to be worth $2,200.0 billion. It is an investment far lower than that of establishing branch offices and stores in Japan. It might be far lower than the cost for paper flyers and internet advertisement you have paid before.
Advancement of the Internet, strong yen, and Japanese EC market potential together provide you with big business opportunities. There is no reason or time to hesitate.