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eCommerce Japan

6 eCommerce Trends in Japan

Japan has been a country which has continued to innovate when it comes to technology – the world of eCommerce is no different. Unlike other international countries we have covered in the past on this blog, Japan is far from an emerging eCommerce country and has some unique characteristics. Here are 6 eCommerce trends in Japan…

1) Rakuten is a major eCommerce leader in Japan – With annual sales over $4 billion, Rakuten is one of the largest internet companies in the world, let alone in Japan. As a company, the Rakuten model has been focused less on pushing goods out the door and more on creating a unique shopping experience by allowing its vendors to customize their product listings and communicate directly with consumers on the site. The company is now expanding outside of Japan, including into the United States.

2) eCommerce sales in Japan continue to rise – According to eMarketer, business-to-consumer eCommerce sales in Japan are expected to grow by approximately $50 million over the next five years to approximately $175 million. Online sales in Japan were under $100 million just three years ago, which could highlight the strong and consistent growth of eCommerce in Japan in the past and moving forward.

3) Japan will have approximately 100 million internet users by 2018 – Although the population in Japan has actually declined slightly in recent years, the number of internet users is still predicted to increase. Of these 100 million internet users, 90 million will also have internet access through their smartphone over the next five years. In addition, Japan currently has the third highest population of broadband internet users of any country in the world, behind only the U.S. and China.

4) Microblogging services are popular in Japan – Twitter, used by 36% of the online population in Japan, is almost as popular as Facebook (39%). This is a significant difference from several other countries with a large online population where the dominance of Facebook is much stronger. However, Japan may be ahead of the trend in regards to the usage of microblogging. According to GlobalWebIndex the number of Twitter users grew by 42% worldwide over the past year – the largest growth rate of any social network.


5) Consumers in Japan engage with brands on social media in a unique way – Many Japanese consumers who follow brands on social media do so not to take part in contests or to engage with a brand, but solely for the main purpose of receiving coupons and free products from brands. The inability for online marketers in Japan to reach consumers through social media touch points could possibly be a factor why, according to GroupM, display ads, e-mail, and mobile ads all grew by over 13% in 2012.

6) Japan is projected to have the second highest online ad spend in 2013 – According to eMarketer, Japan ($10.5 million) leads world powers China ($9.8), Germany ($5.6), and the UK ($9.5) in total online ad spending, trailing only the United States. This could be taken as an indication of the strength of online marketing in Japan and how online marketers in the country are allocating larger amounts of their budget towards online ads.


In short, the eCommerce landscape in Japan continues to thrive as even more of their population becomes accustomed to online shopping. Although marketing to and interacting with Japanese consumers online may be different than North America and Europe, it’s difficult to deny given its history and success in eCommerce that Japan is among the most established eCommerce countries in the world.