Amazon Japan: What It Takes (Plus Bonus Sales Channels) with Nick Katz

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Ecommerce, Podcast0 Comments

This is our seventh year and we are talking Amazon Japan with the Japan guy, Nick Katz. He is a seven figure seller in Japan and we talk about selling in the Japanese market on Amazon. Let’s tune in.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Nick

    Thanks for coming on the podcast! You are the Amazon Japan guy, we are Global From Asia, so this show was just a matter of time 😉

  • Thought process of entering Japanese market

    What should we think about when deciding to go to Japan or not as an Amazon seller?

  • Estimating Sales vs Other Markets

    We like to see how much we are selling in one market and compare it to Japan, is there any index / rough percentage?

  • Need a company, import duties, Japanese language, support, logistics?

    It is quite an insulated market in my opinion, needing its own TLC.

  • Trademarks, IPs: Branding

    Those with brands (hopefully everyone) – we should protect our IP in Japan right? So there is the whole trademark process and other procedures there.

  • Other channels on top of Amazon?

    I’d love to hear some other sales channels, and is Amazon the main one to consider / to start with? May be easiest for those already on Amazon in other markets, but maybe there are ways to grow in Japan.

  • Japanese Website / Language on your own site?

    Is there any reason for building a Japanese language site? Is it required? Encouraged?

  • What you’re uptown and how people can find you

    Thank you so much Nick! How can people find you online and what are you working on these days?

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

√ Nick’s personal site –
Nick’s GFA VIP profile
Line App (popular in Japan)
Aeon Stores (Japanese store popular in China)
Rakuten (famous Japanese online marketplace)

Episode Length 37:08

Thank you so much, Nick for sharing. It’s really great. I am glad we finally made this happen.

Download Options

Listen in on Youtube

Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Episode 330 of Global from Asia podcast. This is our seventh year and we are talking Amazon, Japan with the Japan guy, Nick Katz. Let’s tune in. Welcome to the Global from Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down, into straight up actionable advice. And now your host, Michael Michelini. Happy birthday to Global from Asia.

[00:00:30] It was actually last week, but hey, October, 2013. We started this show as the Hong Kong business podcasts. Last change, of course, Amazon e-commerce cross-border trade. You know, a lot of people say we have no focus, but it’s about Asia international business, kind of like not the normal stuff you might see in a normal, the normal podcast world.

[00:00:51] And we are recording this on video right now. It’s trying our best to be innovative and upgrading the style we do these shows. And putting this into the video formats. Today’s guest, we have Nick Katz, the Japan guy, a Brit in Japan for 25 years, if you can believe that. And he’s an Amazon seller seven figure seller, and he’s also really, really.

[00:01:18] Kind and generous with his knowledge. It’s really unbelievable. It’s a really valuable show and I’m really happy he agreed. Actually I’ve met him many, many years ago. I’m really glad I finally got him on the show. Of course, Global from Asia has to have the Japan guy. So let’s, let’s tune in. We really hope you enjoy these shows.

[00:01:36] It really means a lot to us just by watching or listening, subscribing, giving comments, sharing. But if you want to go above and beyond, we have, our private membership, where you get inside access to some of these live sessions. Also some private sessions we never actually put public at all and a community and just really support what we do.

[00:01:56] If you’d like to learn more and apply. It’s an amazing opportunity, We are, we’re upping the game here, actually. Do you know, this is seven years of Global from Asia as of tomorrow. So the 21st of October, 2013. So yeah, man, and one thing we’re trying to do is engage more people with these, you know, of course we could have just done this maybe on, we could have just done this, like on a Private zoom or Skype or something, but we were trying now to upgrade, upgrade our, our game.

[00:02:28] So there’s live chat and now chat. This is also on Facebook and, yeah. Thanks Zach. Thank you everybody. So, you know, we have, we have an outline and like Nick said there, this could go on for, you know, you have, you can make, you should make a course. Honestly, we were talking before the show, but yeah.

[00:02:47] Yeah, I should, but I won’t,

[00:02:53] Everyone tells me I should do a course, but I am too lazy, but it’s fine. People can just hit me up and stuff, so. Sure, sure. So let me, so you’re the Japan guy. But you’re actually in that Catherine asking in the, in the session, you know, she thought that you would be Japanese, but you’re British. And you’ve been to Japan for quite some time.

[00:03:16] Right. More in 95. So 25 years, so way too long. So say if I tell people in Japan, how long I’ve been in Japan, they say you should go home by now. I mean, just, you know, get out. So, how did you get there? What’s the, what’s the quick story. The really quick story is when I finished university, I wanted to take a gap year before starting work, and I came to Japan for one year.

[00:03:42] It’s like a, it’s a job. And the job paid for the flights and things paid for accommodations. I came out for one year. And it’s been 25 years. So that’s the short story similar to similar. It’s not twenty-five for me, but, similar. I know trade shows in China, and then felt like stay a little bit longer, six, eight, six months a year.

[00:04:05] And now, still here. I think, I think often it’s actually, actually someone, someone told me in my first year that if you stay for three years, you’ll probably stay for a very long time, for good. I think kind of for three years, then it starts to kind of become where you live as opposed to somewhere where you’re visiting.

[00:04:22] Got it. Got it. So, Catherine’s asking in Japan or any country, I think, I think that might be true for offered a similar fridges for China, but I think anywhere else in your home country, right. Or anywhere in life, even in another city, you know, and other, another part of you know, town, uh, if you’re.

[00:04:42] Happy there. And if you willingly stay there for three years, you know, there’s like a time test. So yeah. Of three years, I mean, it must be, you know? Yeah, yeah. I mean, you obviously like it or there’s something going on for you, but yeah. I mean, it’s obviously not the same for everyone, but I know a lot of people who’ve said the same thing after we’ve talked about this, but.

[00:05:00] Yeah. Okay. So, so your name, Nick Katz, the jap-, the Japanese, the Japanese guru. The Japan guy. And we, we actually did meet quickly in Hong Kong with Chris Davey, you know, that little get together, which was awesome. And I remember. I remember, you know, you’re always in your own, a lot of Wechat groups sharing your knowledge and experience.

[00:05:22] You’re always so accessible and I’m really happy to finally get you on the show Global from Asia. So you’re a seven figure seller in Japan selling mostly in the Japanese market on Amazon. Would you say, or yes. So, so I started mainly selling in Japan I do set another markets, but in Japan I started on Amazon.

[00:05:46] But I do have a history. I’ve been in retail for a very long time in Japan, and I used to have my own brick and mortar store and I used to distribute. So, after being on Amazon for a couple of years, I have also moved into distribution, got my products in some of the big, under the big box retailers in Japan.

[00:06:06] And I also sell on most of the other marketplaces or the bigger marketplaces and obviously my own site as well, but I did start on Amazon, Japan, and that’s still my, definitely my main, my main marketplace. Awesome. And. So there’s so much to cover. Like you said, you know, we, we will try to do about a half hour, which is gonna be really hard.

[00:06:32] But I think for listeners, you know, people want to try new markets trying to try new channels. You know what, what’s the, what’s the pitch for deciding Japan or not, you know, like we always see it in groups. Should I sell? And this market, that market what’s the sales pitch or the, you know, what’s the opportunity in Japan?

[00:06:49] Well, I mean, There’s, there are lots of things you can do to, to kind of distribute your, your risk. So for example, if you were to sell him one marketplace and say America, because obviously that’s where a lot of people are selling. If you’re selling an America, you can sell is obviously risky to sell one or two products in one marketplace, but you can just start selling more and more.

[00:07:10] No different products, just in case because products have a lifecycle. They raised the possibility of products having an issue with, you know IP infringement claims or, or accounts being, or listings being suspended for periods of time. So I, I thought it would be a good idea to, to sell as opposed to doing lots of different products to sell on different marketplaces.

[00:07:31] So that’s just one option you have you can have more products in one marketplace, or you can kind of start to sell on other marketplaces to try and spread your risk. So if you’re selling, for example, in the US and you want to sell in another marketplace normally people would go and sell in the UK and then Germany the third and fourth largest marketplaces in the world.

[00:07:58] Amazon marketplaces are UK and Japan. So, if you’re already selling, for example, in Germany, UK, and America, then Japan will be your next logical fourth marketplace, because those for you, America, America is by far the largest then Germany, UK, Japan are quite similar in size, but they are vastly bigger than all the other, you know, the other ones like, you know, France or people say Australia, Australia, you know, there, there are lots of very, very small ones.

[00:08:31] So Japan is one of the big four. So on the Amazon reports, their annual reports, they show the sales every year for America. Japan, Germany and the UK and all the other countries go down as rest of world. They don’t even break those out. So Okay. So, so if you’re selling, if you want to sell on full marketplaces and you’re not selling on Japan, Then, you know, you’re not selling a full marketplace.

[00:09:00] You’re selling on 3.1 well 3.2 marketplaces. So it’s just the, so it’s just a logical step. So that’s one thing. It’s a big marketplace. And the other one, I mean, personally, I find Amazon Japan to be the most profitable marketplace for a number of reasons. I find there’s less competition. There’s way less returns.

[00:09:19] PPC costs much less for the products that I have sold in other marketplaces as well. It’s not obviously there, there still are products that will be very expensive. If you try to sell Bluetooth headphones in Japan or be as expensive as anywhere else. But generally costs are lower. Competition is lower.

[00:09:38] Competition is inferior. The domestic Japanese sellers aren’t very sophisticated. So your main sophistic, your main competition will be as well. Not most places, your main competition in Japan will be Chinese sellers, but your main competition in America would probably be good American sellers as well.

[00:09:57] But there aren’t very many, high level Japanese sellers. Okay. So those are some, some reasons why you probably would want to look at Japan if you were looking to sell in another marketplace. Got it, got it. Let’s go while you’re, you know, I know, you know, I’m trying to be thinking a lot of people watching, you know, listening tuning in today, right.

[00:10:19] You’re in Japan, right? You, you speak Japanese, you know, you’ve been there 25 years. So, obviously you have a really clear advantage. Like somebody listening today, you know, it’s pretty overwhelming. Is there a company set up or can you do cross border? You know, there’s the duties, there’s the language barrier, you know, there are, there are areas like that, but that, you know, Amazon is the same everywhere.

[00:10:49] I mean, Amazon Japan does have a few less features than, than Europe and Europe’s got some less than America. So there are, but essentially seller central is the same. The whole process is essentially the same. So when it comes to language, obviously language is a barrier. But my, so I actually have highest sales in Germany.

[00:11:13] I make more money in Japan. So I do sell a lot in Germany and I don’t speak a lick of German. So the whole language barrier thing, I just do not, you know, I don’t believe that’s a barrier at all. I actually do the PPC for Germany and I, I do it, I think pretty well. I’ve been there sitting there for three years now and I’ve got very low rate costs and that’s not without an 

[00:11:36] And I don’t know the language at all because I just look at the data. And, you know, it’s kind of better to not know the language. I do have a part-time German VA who helps with responding to customers. So like Japan’s a different language, but it’s the language is never a barrier. I don’t think, I don’t think that’s a good reason.

[00:11:58] And I. I find Germany a lot better than the UK. I find that the UK has got a lot of competition just because I think it’s mainly American sellers want to sell there because it’s English, but the German marketplace is way bigger and way better. Well, there’s definitely a lot more chance there to make all the profits, it’s definitely higher than the UK.

[00:12:19] because of the language barrier. So Japan is definitely a big step from that, as well as in, if you’ve got a product that’s a good fit for Japan, and you’re probably going to make a lot more money for a lot longer because everyone thinks that language is a barrier and it’s not. Yeah. Got it. All right. Which is good.

[00:12:36] Catherine is asking, I’m not sure Catherine Zhang. She’s saying, well, the product need to be different to sell in US, UK or Japan. I don’t think as long as it’s able to be imported and sold there or. Yeah. So, that’s kind of a difficult thing. I mean, I kind of have found that there are very few global products, so things like Bluetooth headphones are, there’ll be, you know, the number one or the top, certainly the top 10 selling products in probably every single marketplace.

[00:13:08] They’re very ubiquitous. Everybody needs them, but usually for most products, there’ll be a cultural reason why a product will be more popular in one country than another. So even between America and Japan, there’s lots of cultural reasons why there’s lots of products that wouldn’t sell as well.

[00:13:28] Americans tend to have bigger houses, for example, bigger gardens. I mean, this is, the weather is not as good in the UK. There’s lots of things that would mean it’s very difficult to sell exactly the same product everywhere. And that definitely goes for Japan. So there are some products that would sell very well in all marketplaces, but normally for Japan, you probably either want to have a different variation of the product you’re selling, which is you definitely need to look into, whether it’s a fit for Japan or not.

[00:13:54] And I find that the biggest problem when people want to sell in the smaller market, places like Japan or the same for any other one, apart outside America. Is that because the marketplace is smaller. If you try and sell a very niche product to get, you know, your 10, 20, a day in America, you’re not going to get very many sales a day.

[00:14:15] So normally you want to have a slightly higher level. You want to kind of go, go up the category. You don’t want to niche down. I say, niche up. You want to kind of go back. You don’t want to go down to the sub sub sub categories because you’re not going to get enough sales. So if you’ve got a product that’s doing like 20, 30, 40, a day in America, that’s probably going to be doing one, two, three a day, or maybe not as well.

[00:14:39] It could do in Japan. So you need to have a product that has a bit more of an appeal because the size of the market’s different, but that’s the same for every marketplace outside America. Basically, if you start in America, you’re kind of screwed because your way of thinking and a wrong, if you start in Europe, you’ll probably find Japan a lot easier because it’s the same size or bigger for a lot of the markets.

[00:15:03] So it kind of, it does depend on where you start and how you think about these makes sense. So it makes sense. Yeah. We’ve had, we’ve had some others in the community talk about, you know, they started in the German market. They’re trying to go global. Therefore, the, you know, the other fear though, if you start a local market, your other competitor, your other market competitors might enter your market.

[00:15:24] So sometimes it’s better to be aggressive than defensive, right. So rather than waiting for them to come to you, you go, you go to them, you know, they be offensive rather than defensive, which is, you know, think about it. So still the same FBA, you use FBA Japan, you send your stuff there, they take care of it.

[00:15:48] Yeah. The whole, everything is the same. FBM is the same. FBA is the same, the whole system, everything is the same. That is recently there’s been a problem with, in Japan. You’ve always needed something called an importer of record which is a company you’re not allowed to send your products directly into a fulfillment center, but recently that there’s been a big crackdown with the customs office and then not allowing people to use iOS.

[00:16:10] So it is a bit more difficult to get your products into Japan is basically you don’t want to go directly into a fulfillment center. You want to go to a company to a warehouse and have them send it on to a fulfillment center. This is a very new problem. I’ve actually got, I actually did a, I did a, a video yesterday or two days ago.

[00:16:32] With another guy in Japan, who’s got, I’ve got a Facebook group, he’s got a Facebook group. We did a, we did a video call about this. Then there’s a video on both of our pages that kind of, I just went through and explain what the current problem is and how to get around it. There certainly are ways to get around it, but yeah, we can link it up in the show notes or and talk about it more later, but so.

[00:16:57] Yeah, I think that’s happening everywhere in the world. The trend is going that way. I mean, I think, you know, I don’t want to say gray, but even in the U S people used to try to like, you know, have logistics companies as importers and, you know, there’s, there’s also liability with the importer of record in any country.

[00:17:12] They’re that, they’re the ultimate. They’re the, yeah, like, as it says importer record means if there’s a product liability problem, if there’s a quality problem, a question, anything that goes to that’s who they, they look up, that’s who they call. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. The IOR is ultimately responsible for the product, but there’s been the reason for the current problem in Japan.

[00:17:35] It’s a lot of it, is of course of a crackdown. We think it’s probably because of the Chinese sellers who aren’t paying tax. So they’re kind of trying to get their tax so that it’s it’s yeah, it’s kind of, I’m not going to go through it now cause that’s,

[00:17:51] similar in, in US whether it’s, you know, any seller or any other international seller, you know, it it’s, that’s the whole point of, I guess the whole trend is things are getting in this direction. Things are the gray or the, you know, things, the policies, the procedures, the red tape, or correct way is getting more and more happy.

[00:18:12] Required to be done just generally it seems globally, or is it going up so that governments can get tax money seems to be as well. That happened last year in Germany, where they kind of, even if you had a German VAT number, they, they, you know, you don’t have to have a VAT number unless you’ve got a hundred thousand euros in sales.

[00:18:28] They added this new, that this new tax requirement that you had to. So you had to get a VAT registered to get this other number and registered that in Amazons that you could sell, it was stupid. It was like, So people had to get registered, even if they were under the threshold, it’s just to get money, basically it’s happening in the States, it’s happening everywhere.

[00:18:49] Right? They realize that Amazon there’s a lot of money that can be made from Amazon sellers. Yeah, well, with the rise of eCommerce and a government is getting more desperate for cash, you know, it’s, it’s inevitable. It was something we were all maybe getting away with for too long. If you know, um, you know, just kinda more on the procedures, trademarks, you know, brand registry, uh, IP kind of stuff.

[00:19:15] Generally, same procedure. Yep. That’s the same thing. So if you’ve got, if you’ve got brand registry yeah. In another marketplace, you can transfer your brand registry to Japan. I tend to transfer my brand registry a different way. Most people seem to be reapplying in each marketplace. But you can just basically give yourself brand registry in another marketplace.

[00:19:34] You don’t actually have to reapply. That’s not. A process is required. Anyway, if you have it in one place, you can get it in another. If you’ve got a if you’ve got a trademark in Europe or America or somewhere, you can use that enter, apply in Japan, it’s not a problem. So if you wanted to get a trademark in Japan, you can do that.

[00:19:53] As if he actually wants to apply for trademark in Japan, you can do that. And you need to do that if there is an infringement claim. So you can use your trademark in another country to get registry. If you want to be, if you want to have a bit more, enforcement, and you’re going to have to get a trademark in Japan, and it’s not, it’s not that difficult.

[00:20:14] It’s not that expensive. It does take a little bit of time. It took me about. I can’t remember now at six, seven months, but my UK ones, I got those in, you know, less than two months. So it’s it’s yeah, it’s not that hard. It’s not that expensive. You can certainly, you just got to Google it and you’ll find someone in it is harder to find service providers who can handle English, but if you Google in English and you find a company that has a website that is in English, then they’ll they’ll, they will be used to working with foreign clients.

[00:20:49] I honestly don’t need to do that, but that’s one thing, you know there certainly will be people and they’ll probably be in Tokyo as well. Yeah. I mean, that’s the question I get a lot is English speaking service 

[00:21:00] providers in Japan, but yeah, I mean, I guess the English is not, there’s not as many English speaking, just like from, I think we’ve talked about it in my experience too.

[00:21:10] Yeah. And yeah, I don’t know why. Well, I kind of do know why, but in Japan, the level of English is really, really low. It should be a lot higher. They study English as long as, you know, they, they study for many years. But I suppose English people are use less of French and we studied for the same amount of time.

[00:21:25] But, you know, Japanese are really, really bad at English, generally awful. So many companies don’t speak, but they will if say, if you Google in English and you find a website that has English on it, that means. There’s a reason for that they will be able to, they will have staff that will handle it.

[00:21:41] So it’s it’s it’s okay. Okay, great. And also people have questions, you know, you’re here live and we’re also gonna have some live chat after for the people in the, in the, in the air meet. Just keep that going. So I would assume law, you know, everyone always thinks about product launch, you know, reviews, I guess, every PPC.

[00:22:01] So it seems like what you already said is it’s less competition. PPC is easier, so. It seems like a, you don’t have to stress so much about launching there. Yeah. The launch process is the same as everywhere. You don’t, there aren’t really any rebate companies. Well, I started never used a rebate company.

[00:22:22] It’s not as easy to do rebates in Japan. There’s there is a tax reason for that. And also another problem is that Japanese people generally don’t use PayPal. So it’s not as actually easy to rebate. You’d have to use something like line or, but so Germany, that’s not really done, but on the flip side, you don’t need to have as many, products don’t have as many reviews, even very, very high selling products don’t have as many reviews as they would in other marketplaces.

[00:22:46] So you don’t need as many reviews. So you only really need, you know, if you’ve got five, 10, that’s generally more than enough. So, um, and you can always, like, if you want to kind of do it the slightly gray way you can go on there. There are websites you can go to, or you could go to things like five or you’ll find Japanese people that will, that will do it.

[00:23:11] Got it. And just a shout out to Zach Franklin.  He’s in the chat. He also runs a Panda Leap, which is a European, uh, launch service. And, uh, he says, he’s tried to do a launch, a review rebate service. He says it’s really hard, impossible. So, uh, yeah, so I guess, uh, I’m curious to know why maybe that’s another show, but yeah.

[00:23:33] I guess you don’t need to stress about, it seems like you don’t need to stress about it too much. You know, like five to 10 reviews. Shouldn’t be too. You don’t need as many actually Catherine’s is, has got a very question here. That’s actually quite an interesting question about Facebook because Facebook exists in Japan.

[00:23:50] People use Facebook in Japan. You’ll find that most Facebook users in Japan use Facebook because they’ve got foreign friends, Japanese people don’t tend to use Facebook as a rule. Uh, Japanese people do tend to use Instagram a lot. So I do a lot of Instagram advertising. I find it’s going to be incredibly effective.

[00:24:14] And the, if you want to do any promotion in Japan, use Line. Line is where it’s at that’s a whole kind of, that’s a big, long discussion with yeah. I mean, that’s like a lot, that’s another marketing. I mean just, yeah, it’s just giving people, just, just saying Line is helpful. I mean, I have a line account.

[00:24:37] I think having it installed in a while, but yeah, it’s basically like the number one chat app in, in Japan. It’s like, you will never find anybody who’s not on Line. You know, from a 10 year old to a 99 year old, everybody is on Line. It is, it is incredibly ubiquitous. Amazing. If you meet anybody, you would exchange Line.

[00:24:58] It’s so it’s brilliant. Japan focuses. It has focused all on this one app, so it makes it so easy. So I, I have Line lists. We just build Line users as opposed to building email users and you can build Line really, really fast. And if I send out something to, to, to my Line group, like a sale, like I did last weekend.

[00:25:21] I mean, it just crashes I’ve got a really good site and a really good server. It still crashes it because there’s so much people, you know, click and go into it really, really fast because it’s obviously it’s mobile. It’s like, you know, as we use we-chat so definitely look into Line if you want to do promotion in Japan, it’s, that’s, that’s really where it’s at.

[00:25:41] Great. And then another one from Zach, but it’s not really about Japan, but just about the chats. Instagram just did announce an API opening up. So many, many chat will be going with Instagram, but yeah, that’s not really about Japan specifically. And then Catherine is asking about email. I think email is probably not so popular in Japan, right?

[00:25:58] Like, yeah. Okay. So, email. So, so we have, we have email lists, you know, I keep, I try and keep my email list as clean as possible. So I keep it above a 50% open rates. So I do use email a lot. It is useful. There is an, there is a specific problem with Japan and that everybody uses smartphones and most people use a smartphone email, and a lot of the smartphone emails, people use.

[00:26:24] email formats that you’re not allowed to use as in finishing with a dot before the app Mark, which works between phones, but it doesn’t actually work if you try and send somebody an email. So that’s one problem. Another one is, one of the largest services is called DoCoMo in Japan, and you cannot send an email to somebody who has a DoCoMo account.

[00:26:45] They won’t receive the email. They have to accept the domain before they can receive an email. So it means a lot of people won’t be received. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass. So, and all the email forms that we’ve got on our websites, we have to keep on reminding people, if you’ve got a DoCoMo. If you’re using a DoCoMo email address, put in our domain so that you can receive the emails we get, we used to be really bad at the beginning.

[00:27:09] We get a lot of complaints. People would like fill out a warranty form. They didn’t get the email back because they’re using DoCoMo. So there are things you’ve got to kind of, but email is still good though. Email is still useful. We use it a lot basically. Great, great. This is really amazing. Thanks again, Nick, for sharing all this.

[00:27:26] I think we’re about five, five more minutes or so, and then we’ll go into our, start, just start our smaller table. I saw, I saw Catherine also mentioning in the chat, but besides Amazon, obviously there’s, she’s, I’m going to mess up the name Rock, rocket to Rocca toucan? Rakuten, and there’s other there’s many other channels.

[00:27:47] I think you also mentioned it when we’re preparing for the show. Amazon is one, but what would you say is Amazon versus the others in Japan? Like, is it a. That’s a very, very good question. So yeah. 

[00:28:00] In many countries, like for example, America, or probably UK Germany, Amazon is by far the largest. And I, I, I go and speak generally every year in Germany.

[00:28:11] And so I, you know, I’m very, very aware that countries, like, for example, France or lots of European countries, there are, there are other marketplaces or other online stores are as big. If not bigger than Amazon, everyone thinks Amazon is the biggest everywhere it is not. And in Japan, Amazon’s main rival is Rakuten or.

[00:28:32] Rakuten’s main rival is Amazon. They together, they have about 30%. They’ve got about 15% each. And although, well, Amazon’s getting bigger and bigger every year and Rakuten is getting a little, a little bit smaller. The products that sell on Rakuten are completely different from their Amazon products.

[00:28:52] And there are Rakuten products and some products are a better fit. If you want to. For example, Clothing, Amazon sucks. Food, Amazon sucks. Rakuten clothing and food and supplements is absolutely amazing and also higher priced products. So, and certainly products North of about 70, $80. You want to start looking at Rakuten

[00:29:17] And the reason why Rakuten, although the site itself is horrible, it’s the worst shopping experience ever. And I avoid it as much as I can. Japanese love Rakuten because everyone’s got a Rakuten credit card. Everybody goes, when they go and fill up with petrol with gas at the gas station, they use their Rakuten card, they get points, Rakuten points are everywhere.

[00:29:39] They’re in, people pay, you know, this is there’s. So like Rakuten is everywhere in Japan and it’s those points. And that’s the reason why people use the site. Right. So you definitely need to look at both of them say I’m on Rakuten and on Amazon. They definitely have their advantages. The PPC platform is as 

[00:30:00] horrible on Rakuten and they, they only started the proper PPC last year.

[00:30:03] And it’s the worst. It’s the worst advertising platform I’ve ever tried and used. It’s like, it’s ridiculous. So awful, but it’s definitely going to get better. That’s for sure. Got it. Interesting. So, yeah, I mean, we’re in 2020, you know, in COVID has really accelerated e-commerce I’m assuming it seems happened in Japan.

[00:30:23] It’s a question from Catherine Xu, but I guess just in general, like. Well, I don’t know, you might not have the stats or the numbers, but you know, I, what do you think is a percentage breakdown of online sales offline? You know, e-commerce versus retail. I can’t, yeah, I don’t, I don’t know what those are, but I can tell you that.

[00:30:40] I can tell you that the retail is very, very strong in Japan. It always has been, and it always will be. Then, then there never was a lockdown in Japan. Um, A lot of stores in Tokyo did close down for a few months. I moved a lot into retail at the end of last year. And that was obviously affected, but retail is still very, very large in Japan.

[00:31:01] There certainly that there are a lot of chains that, you know, people just go to, people go there as a day out. Kind of like, I mean, I’ve talked about this and other things that places like Costco, for example, that’s a day out. Going to Ikea is a day out. Americans will just think it’s the funniest thing.

[00:31:18] Like, you know, you, you just go to Costco, they’re shopping in Japan, going to Costco is an event. Okay. So there’s a lot of people that they will, the shopping mall still do very well here. The Aeon shopping malls that you get in China, right? That’s obviously a Japanese company. So, so retail is still, retail is still great.

[00:31:35] It’s brilliant for a lot of products. This certainly has been more of a moved offline how far? I don’t know, but I would expect retail, store retailers to come back strong. And people are out shopping a lot in Japan. As I say, there isn’t a lot down there. The, the, the infection rates of COVID are very, very low.

[00:31:58] So it is a different, it’s a different market, you know, it’s a different market. Great. so Catherine, we can talk into networking after and okay. Yeah. Let me, we’ll add some, I’m also figuring out the format of this call. So we have some great active people. Let’s let’s invite them on stage just for the end, this last end.

[00:32:23] If they have a couple of questions I’ll do that. So for those on Facebook, you know, this is, we’re doing this on a, on an online platform for, for people in the GFAVIP community. And, I’m inviting Catherine first. I’m learning this software, all learning. My last main tech question is Japanese website.

[00:32:42] Do you need a Japanese website for, I guess, I guess either for your brand or for customer support or expectations or for sales or any of that. Well, you don’t, you don’t need a website any more than any website anywhere else, but you, you want to have a website that’s for sure. Yeah. I mean, the website is your home base.

[00:33:07] I wouldn’t, yes, you definitely. I mean, I would recommend the website. You don’t have to have one. Got it. Yeah. Okay. I brought Catherine up. Zach didn’t didn’t join. So we’re going to go to the networking stage. I think we’ll, unless Catherine, you want to say anything on the last for the Q and A? No, I’m fine.

[00:33:29] I’m fine. I’m happy with all the answers that Nick provided is very interesting to know a new market. Yeah, thanks. The last thing is just for the people on Facebook or live or for our recording is how can people connect with you, find you. Yeah. Okay. So probably the easiest way, I do have a website that I haven’t been updating, but you can contact me through there and it’s

[00:33:58] It’s very easy to remember, That’s a different guy. If you go to, there’s a contact form there. You can contact me there. You can contact me, That’s probably the easiest way. I’ve also got a Facebook group called Amazon Japan, P L. Um, it’s been going for like four years, since 2016.

[00:34:25] And that’s kind of a good place if people, people ask me questions a lot on messenger and I asked them to ask it in the group, just so that when I reply, but it’s not a very active group to be honest, but you know, but it’s still a good, a good way to contact me if you’ve got any questions. I’ll sneak in the last question from Zack, but I think we’re going to go into the table mode for those in the, in this live session.

[00:34:44] But he’s asked him about like licenses for websites or servers. I think just, just to just China, right? Mainland China has IC that you have to get licenses and approval, but I don’t think there’s anything. Yeah, no, you don’t need any of that. No, no, no, you don’t. No, no. Right. So for those don’t, don’t go away.

[00:34:59] If you’re on this, we’re going to go to the table mode where we can jump around and, and to connect a little bit again, thank you so much, Nick, for sharing. It’s really great. I am glad we finally made this happen. You’ve been on my list for awhile and let’s, let’s keep, yeah, really appreciate it.

[00:35:13] Thank you again. Yeah, thank you for having me on Mike. Thanks for thanks very much. Okay. Thank you. We’re going to go into table mode. We’re bringing it back. our group buying for factory direct platform. A little bit of a break after this whole PPE and the pandemic and everything. But people keep asking both on the factory side and on the importer seller side where’s load pipe who wants some more products.

[00:35:37] So we’re working on bringing it back. We’re going to send it to integrate that into our content. We’re going to have live demos of different factories, products and things happening. Stay tuned for more. And I look forward to sharing with you Thank you so much, Nick, for sharing. I hope everybody enjoyed that was actually using our live.

[00:35:58] Streaming setup. Now we’re doing these with, we invite our GFAVIP members on, we streamed us on Facebook. We’re trying to stream it on more places. We’re doing video now. Or of course, audio originally was where we started audio seven years ago. There’s lots going on. Lots going on. I hope this was fun for you.

[00:36:18] And I’m open to always feedback. We’re trying to make this better and more impactful and really get our community together even more. So, thanks again. Subscribe. If you’re on iTunes or YouTube or wechat or in Himalaya and China. So wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying this. We’re trying to put this to reach as many people help as many people as we possibly can.

[00:36:46] Thanks again. See you later. I’m like Michael Michelini, host Global from Asia. To get more info about running an international business. Please visit our website at That’s 

[00:37:00] Also be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

Related Posts

Tags: amazon, asia, business, china, corporate, e-commerce, ecommerce, entrepreneur, FBA, guide, Japan, tips

Leave a Reply