Opportunities and Challenges When Selling on Amazon Japan

Discover the exciting opportunities and conquer the challenges of selling on Amazon Japan. Overcome hurdles, maximize profits, and succeed in the Japanese market.


The Japanese commerce landscape is rapidly growing and offers expanded opportunities for foreign merchants. Gaining entry into the Japanese e-commerce space can appear daunting, so many international sellers begin their journey with Amazon. This makes sense, as Amazon has a familiar interface and the highest market share among the platforms.

However, companies like Rakuten Ichiba, Yahoo Shopping, and ZOZOTOWN are powerful players that can’t be overlooked when considering e-commerce in Japan. Many of these sites offer unique advantages such as multimedia display options to showcase products. They also provide international payment options that make it easier for foreign customers to make purchases from abroad. Still, selling on Amazon Japan comes with its own set of opportunities and challenges. In this article, we will explore both.

selling on Amazon Japan - opportunities


The Lucrative Japanese Market: Selling on Amazon Japan Opportunities

1. Untapped market potential

Amazon Japan is an untapped market full of potential for businesses looking to expand their reach and increase their sales. With a population of over 126 million people and a high level of internet penetration, Japan is a lucrative market for online sellers. One of the advantages of selling on Amazon Japan is that there is less competition compared to other Amazon marketplaces. This means that there is a greater opportunity for businesses to get noticed and stand out from the competition. Additionally, Amazon Japan has a strong reputation for customer service, which is highly valued by Japanese consumers. 

Japan is the 4th biggest Amazon marketplace

This makes it an attractive platform for businesses that prioritize customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Japan is known for its high GDP per capita and its strong economy, which means that consumers in Japan have more disposable income to spend on products. This makes it an ideal market for businesses that want to target consumers who are willing to spend more money on quality products. Another advantage of selling on Amazon Japan is that the platform has a highly developed logistics system, which means that businesses can easily and efficiently ship products to customers across Japan. This makes it easier for international sellers to enter the Japanese market without having to worry about complicated shipping procedures.

Finally, there is a high level of trust in the Amazon brand in Japan, which means that consumers are more likely to trust and purchase products from sellers who use the Amazon platform. This can help businesses to establish a strong reputation and gain loyal customers in Japan.

2. Growing e-commerce landscape

Amazon Japan has become a prominent player in the e-commerce landscape, offering a platform for businesses to sell their products to a vast customer base in Japan. The growing popularity of Amazon Japan as an e-commerce marketplace has created a significant opportunity for businesses looking to expand their customer base and increase their sales. 

One of the primary advantages of selling on Amazon Japan is the platform's vast reach. With over 100 million registered users, Amazon Japan provides access to an extensive customer base that is actively looking for products to purchase. Additionally, Amazon Japan has invested heavily in its logistics infrastructure, providing sellers with access to its world-class fulfillment network, which enables businesses to store and ship their products quickly and efficiently across Japan.

3. Cultural affinity for online shopping 

Cultural affinity for online shopping in Japan has been increasing rapidly in recent years, making it an attractive market for businesses looking to sell their products on Amazon Japan. The Japanese market is very tech-savvy, with a high level of smartphone and internet usage, making online shopping a natural choice for many consumers. In addition to convenience and ease of use, Japanese consumers value quality, authenticity, and reliability, which are key factors for success in selling on Amazon Japan. 

Japanese consumers also have a strong affinity for products that are made in Japan or have a connection to Japanese cultures, such as traditional crafts and products with unique Japanese designs. When selling on Amazon Japan, it is important to understand and respect Japanese culture and customs.

For example, gift-giving is an important aspect of Japanese culture, so offering gift-wrapping services or including a small gift with purchases can be a good way to appeal to Japanese customers.

Furthermore, Japanese consumers tend to be very detail-oriented and value thorough product descriptions and images. Providing high-quality product photos and detailed descriptions in both English and Japanese can help ensure that your products stand out and appeal to Japanese customers.

4. Access to a tech-savvy customer base

Selling on Amazon Japan provides businesses with access to a tech-savvy customer base in Japan. As one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the country, Amazon Japan boasts over 50 million active customers, many of whom are technologically advanced and accustomed to online shopping. This presents an opportunity for businesses to tap into this market and grow their customer base in Japan.

Amazon Japan's website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making it an ideal platform for businesses looking to sell their products online. 

Additionally, Amazon Japan offers various marketing and advertising options for businesses to increase their visibility and attract more customers. These include sponsored products, sponsored brands, and sponsored display ads.

By selling on Amazon Japan, businesses can also take advantage of the platform's robust logistics and fulfillment services. Amazon Japan operates its own warehouses and handles all aspects of order fulfillment, including packing and shipping. This means that businesses can focus on their core operations while Amazon handles the logistics, ensuring a seamless experience for both the seller and the customer.

Furthermore, Amazon Japan provides businesses with access to valuable data and insights about customer behavior, allowing them to optimize their product offerings and better understand their target audience. This data can be used to inform marketing strategies, product development, and overall business operations.

5. Leveraging Amazon's brand reputation 

Leveraging Amazon's brand reputation can be extremely beneficial for businesses selling on Amazon Japan. As one of the most trusted and popular online marketplaces, Amazon brings instant credibility to any seller operating on its platform. Therefore, businesses can capitalize on this reputation and use it to their advantage when selling on Amazon Japan. By leveraging Amazon's brand reputation, businesses can benefit from increased visibility and trust among potential customers. The Amazon brand name is synonymous with reliability, quality, and customer satisfaction, which can help businesses attract new customers and increase sales. 

In addition, Amazon Japan's extensive customer base means that businesses can tap into a large and diverse market without having to invest in costly marketing campaigns. Another advantage of leveraging Amazon's brand reputation is that it helps with search engine optimization (SEO). Amazon's reputation as a trusted e-commerce platform means that its pages rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords.

Businesses selling on Amazon Japan can benefit from this by optimizing their product listings for these same keywords, which can help them rank higher in SERPs and attract more potential customers.

6. Proximity to China

Selling on Amazon Japan can present a unique opportunity for businesses, particularly those who manufacture their products in China. Due to the proximity of China to Japan, shipping costs and times can be significantly lower compared to sending products to the United States. This can allow businesses to offer more competitive pricing on their products, making them more appealing to customers in Japan.

selling on Amazon Japan - challenges


Master Unique Challenges on Selling Amazon Japan

1. Language and cultural barriers 

Language and cultural barriers can be significant challenges when selling on Amazon Japan. Japan has a unique culture that values traditions, customs, and etiquette that can differ significantly from Western cultures, making it difficult for businesses to navigate this market successfully.

One of the biggest barriers is the language, as Japanese is a complex language with three different writing systems, including kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Many Japanese consumers are not fluent in English, so it's essential to have a localized website and product descriptions in Japanese to ensure that businesses can communicate effectively with their target audience.

Less than 30% of Japanese people speak english

Another cultural barrier is the emphasis on formalities and respect for hierarchy in Japanese business culture. Business owners must be aware of the correct way to address customers and clients, as well as the appropriate gift-giving practices and business card etiquette, which is crucial in Japan.

2. Competing with established local sellers

Selling on Amazon Japan can present some unique challenges for businesses looking to compete with established local sellers. One of the biggest challenges is the language barrier, as many local sellers may have an advantage in being able to communicate more effectively with Japanese customers. This can make it difficult for foreign businesses to establish a strong customer base and build trust with Japanese consumers.

Another challenge is the established reputation of local sellers, who may have a long history of providing high-quality products and excellent customer service. This can make it difficult for new sellers to compete, as they may not have the same level of brand recognition or trust among Japanese consumers.

In addition, local sellers may have a better understanding of the Japanese market and culture, allowing them to tailor their products and marketing efforts to better meet the needs and preferences of Japanese consumers. This can put foreign sellers at a disadvantage, as they may not have the same level of knowledge or understanding of the local market.

Finally, competition among sellers on Amazon Japan can be fierce, with many businesses vying for the same customers and trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. This can make it difficult for new sellers to stand out and attract customers, particularly if they are competing against established local sellers with a strong reputation and loyal customer base.

To overcome these challenges, foreign businesses looking to sell on Amazon Japan may need to invest in targeted marketing and advertising campaigns, as well as offer high-quality products and excellent customer service to build a strong reputation and establish trust with Japanese consumers. They may also need to work with local partners and collaborators to better understand the Japanese market and culture, and tailor their products and marketing efforts accordingly.

3. Understanding Japanese consumer preferences

Selling on Amazon Japan can be a lucrative opportunity for businesses looking to expand their reach into the Asian market. However, understanding Japanese consumer preferences can be a challenge for those who are not familiar with the culture and the expectations of the market.

One of the key challenges that businesses face is the importance of customer service in Japan. Japanese consumers expect high levels of customer service and support, and businesses that cannot meet these expectations may struggle to gain a foothold in the market. This means that businesses need to invest in training their customer service teams to be knowledgeable and responsive to customer needs and to be able to communicate effectively in Japanese.

Another challenge in selling on Amazon Japan is the importance of product quality and reliability. Japanese consumers are known for their high standards, and they expect products to be well-made, reliable, and durable. This means that businesses need to ensure that their products meet the highest quality standards and that they are able to communicate this effectively in their product descriptions and marketing materials.

In addition, Japanese consumers are highly value-conscious and price-sensitive. This means that businesses need to be able to offer competitive pricing and promotions, while also maintaining high levels of product quality and customer service. Businesses that are able to strike the right balance between these factors are more likely to succeed in the Japanese market.

4. Navigating complex import regulations

Selling on Amazon Japan can be a lucrative opportunity for businesses looking to expand their reach in the Japanese market. However, navigating the complex import regulations can pose a significant challenge for sellers.

The Japanese government has strict regulations when it comes to the importation of goods, with many restrictions in place to protect local industries and consumers. This means that businesses looking to sell on Amazon Japan must adhere to a range of regulations, including product standards, labeling requirements, and customs duties.

One of the main challenges for sellers is understanding and complying with these regulations. This can be particularly difficult for businesses that are new to the Japanese market, as the regulations can be complex and difficult to navigate.

For example, certain products, such as food and cosmetics, are subject to strict labeling requirements that must be met before they can be sold in Japan. This can include having labels in both Japanese and English, as well as complying with specific standards for product testing and certification.

In addition to these regulations, businesses must also navigate the customs clearance process, which can be time-consuming and costly. Customs duties and taxes must be paid on imported goods, and importers must also obtain various permits and licenses to ensure compliance with local regulations.

Overall, navigating the complex import regulations in Japan can be a significant challenge for businesses looking to sell on Amazon Japan. However, with the right support and guidance, it is possible to overcome these challenges and succeed in the Japanese market.

5. Building trust and credibility with Japanese customers 

One of the challenges that sellers face when selling on Amazon Japan is building trust and credibility with Japanese customers. Japan is a culture that values trust and relationships, and this is reflected in its business growth practices. As a result, sellers need to take extra steps to build trust with Japanese customers to be successful on Amazon Japan.

One way to build trust is by offering high-quality products. Japanese customers are known for their discerning taste and preference for quality products. Sellers who can provide high-quality products that meet the expectations of Japanese customers are more likely to build trust and credibility.

6. Driving external traffic 

Driving external traffic to Amazon listings is an important ranking factor. This can be quite challenging in Japan, since most brands don't have a Japanese online presence that would rank organically and allow to drive organic traffic to their listings. And running Ad campaigns comes with the language and culture challenges mentioned above. The solution for this is to engage a local agency or work with an agency that is familiar with this task.


Selling on Amazon Japan presents a significant opportunity for sellers to access a large customer base, but it also comes with unique challenges. Sellers must be aware of the language barrier, cultural differences, and intense competition to succeed in this market. However, with the right approach, sellers can build a successful business on Amazon Japan.

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