Top Ecommerce Websites in Japan – Popular B2C & C2C Marketplaces

Posted By Jim Kersey

While B2B ecommerce platforms like Rakuten, Amazon and Yahoo! Shopping are incredibly popular in Japan, there’s a lot more to the country’s online shopping scene than just these players.

In addition to sales made through the websites of brands and electronic stores like Bic Camera, there’s a growing love for both auction sites and C2C marketplaces like Mercari where customers can sell their secondhand (and sometimes completely unused) items to one another.

So, to build on content we’ve previously published focusing on the giants of ecommerce in Japan, we’ll explore the role these other types of ecommerce websites now play in Japan and whether brands should be making use of them in their ecommerce strategies.

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Leading Types of Ecommerce Websites in Japan

As well as online shopping malls that allow thousands of different brands and merchants to sell their goods to customers on their marketplaces, Japanese citizens shop in several other places too. Below is a breakdown of what this looks like.

Shopping Malls (Amazon, Rakuten etc.) 94.2%
Manufacturer’s Brand Websites 40.9%
Home Electronic Stores 33.1%
Online Auction Sites 27.3%
Flea Market Websites and Applications 24.9%
Supermarkets 11.4%
Retails Stores 11.3%
Department Stores 7.9%
Convenience Stores 5.6%
None of the Above 3.1%

Source: Statista

As you’ll see, online flee stores and auction sites, which both feature a strong peer-to-peer element, are shopped on by a large proportion of Japanese consumers.

Top B2C Ecommerce Websites in Japan – A Quick Reminder

Logo image of Amazon ecommerce website in Japan

Many foreign businesses decide to enter Japan primarily for the opportunities presented by top B2C ecommerce websites that allow brands to sell to millions of customers throughout the country.

With high purchasing power among older demographics, a robust logistics network, and a love for the convenience of online shopping, these platforms have evolved to play a vital role in many people’s lives.

Top 5 Ecommerce Websites in Japan (Shopping Malls & Marketplaces)

*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

Source: Statista
Amazon Japan Although you might consider Amazon’s dominance to be expected in Japan (in line with its position in other markets), it hasn’t always been this way. Notably, the way the platform displays products from different brands contrasts the popular shopping mall-style format of other ecommerce platforms like Rakuten. Yet, the platform’s advanced features, easy functionality, wide product offerings and overall brand recognition have helped it to take top spot.
Rakuten Brands that sell on Rakuten are free to create their own digital storefronts and have the power to adapt layouts, visuals, design and messaging to engage with their customers in a less “generic” way than Amazon offers. Many customers enjoy this “special” and personalized experience on Rakuten, as well as the sheer amount of popular brands that operate on it.
Yahoo! Shopping Japan Yahoo! Shopping is popular among older demographics who grew up in a time where the platform was the foremost ecommerce website in Japan. Even today, it has strong brand recognition and reputation in a way that it no longer has in other parts of the world. This is partly thanks to several integrations with SoftBank and Yahoo-owned channels and the fact that users are redirected through Yahoo! search engine results, service pages, and yahoo-owned apps (used by millions of Japanese citizens) directly to the shopping platform.
Au Pay Market (Wowma) Au Pay, formerly Wowma, was founded by the mobile phone company KDDI and is incredibly popular in Japan today. It benefits from its mother company’s large share of mobile users, with the au brand having over 38 million registered customers, in addition to over 14 million subscribers to its ‘smart pass’ app, and over 2500 physical stores.
PayPay Mall Owned by Yahoo! Japan, PayPay Mall allows users to collect points using PayPay for their purchases, as well as additional points if they are Yahoo Premium Account holders. This has allowed the company to capture greater market share from shoppers who are already invested in the SoftBank/Yahoo! ecosystem.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of these platforms and others like Zozo Town and Lohaco, take a look at our blog: Best Ecommerce Platforms in Japan – Are Some Sites Better than Others?

Japan’s Customer-to-Customer (C2C) Ecommerce Landscape

Woman taking photograph of jacket to sell on C2C ecommerce website in Japan

The consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace market has exploded in Japan recently. Shoppers are enticed by the chance to sell items directly through apps and online within minimal effort. Platforms like Mercari — founded in 2013 and one of Japan’s first unicorns, raising $1.2B during its IPO in June 2018 — is now one of the top ecommerce platforms in the country, giving people a new way to shop.

These platforms, some of which are designed specifically for mobile usage, offer engaging user interfaces on smartphone applications, a growing network of participating sellers, and the ability to acquire almost-new products at a heavy discount.

Most Popular Flea Market Apps and Services in Japan

Mercari 63%
Yahoo Auction! 58.4%
Rakuma 29.1%
PayPay Furima 18.7%
Minnie 7.5%
Creema 6.3%
Booth 4.6%
Oatmart 4.6%
Shoppies 4%
Noojma 3.6%
BoonBoon! Market 3.4%
Zeni no Furima 3.3%
Kante 3.3%
Let 3.1%
Others 0.7%

Source: Statista

Can Businesses Leverage C2C Ecommerce Websites in Japan?

Selling online on any C2C ecommerce website in Japan as a brand is a bit of a grey area. Most of these sites are set up to allow sales of used goods between individuals, so in a sense, you don’t belong here if you’re selling brand new products.

Having said this, many brands have still done just this, and sold through dedicated accounts (some official, some not) or through approved resellers who take stock at a wholesale price and sell it on the marketplace for a small profit. Below are a few pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about doing this.

Pros Cons
Create a community of people on popular and active marketplaces in Japan Consumers might get used to seeing you as a brand that sells your products cheaply or with heavy discounts (taking away from your premium nature)
Sell old or out of season stock at a lower cost Shoppers may perceive you to be a small-time merchant that doesn’t match up to big-name Western brands
Test out new products and consumer appetite before you launch larger scale rollouts You’ll get less than market value for your products
Expand your reach to more platforms and new demographics who frequent these channels Users may assume your product is fake or altered
Build up some hype around new products or draw in customers through deals and promotion Selling via these marketplaces can be time-consuming and requires large amount of Japanese customer communication

If you’re new to the world of Japanese ecommerce, take a look at our blog: Getting into Ecommerce in Japan? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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Building a Japanese Ecommerce Strategy?

Two Japanese shoppers viewing fashion display as example of trends to follow on ecommerce websites in Japan

While we wouldn’t recommend choosing a C2C selling app as your primary ecommerce channel in Japan, it’s important to understand the role that players like Mercari play in the overall landscape.

Spending some time on these platforms is also a great way to learn about your customer, including what products people are buying and selling, as well as trends in fashion and other segments.

If you’re building your next Japanese sales strategy and would like to learn more about this topic, or find out where the best ecommerce opportunities lie for your brand on platforms like Amazon or Rakuten, we’d love to hear from you.

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