Make your mark on Japan: Game-changing insights from W2Solution and Adyen

Looking to expand into Japan, or seeking ways to boost your business and success out there? Together with W2Solution, we’re sharing some key learnings to help you achieve your goals.

When we think of Japan, it’s easy for our minds to run away with themselves in terms of technology, trends and culture. After all, the market is one of the most advanced in the world (think the bullet train, futuristic toilets and robots), married with tradition and deep-rooted history.

What do consumers seek out there? And what makes you stand out from competitors? With the Japanese government setting a goal of increasing cashless payments to 40% of all transactions by 2025 (from the current 20%), you need to keep your pace here.

The Japanese government plans to increase cashless payments to 40% of all transactions by 2025.

After expanding into Japan in 2021, we launched our Japan guide to help you navigate the market with confidence. In this article, with help from one of our partners, W2Solution - a Japanese all-in-one ecommerce platform provider headquartered in Tokyo - we’re going to sum up three key trends you should keep in mind.

1. Localisation is key

With an estimated 99% of the population speaking Japanese only, this is a country known for its unique customs, culture, and approach to shopping.

Know your native language

To truly connect with your audience, simply using a translation tool isn’t going to cut it when localising your content. Native speakers will add value that no computer software can - especially when it comes to integrating terms and phrases that you’re unlikely to have considered.

This is also crucial for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). As 93% of Japanese consumers using search engines to find items online rather than specific websites or platforms, it’s a strong way to boost your brand’s credibility. A high search rank acts as an endorsement to your brand and increases the chance of your website being engaged with. It may be worth reviewing your target keywords to ensure your content aligns with the local search habits, with the help of a native Japanese speaker.

Win with your website

Since only around 10% of Japanese consumers shop on overseas websites, it’s important your platform and communications resonate with them on a local scale.

Only 10% of Japanese consumers shop on overseas websites.

To the Western eye, Japanese websites may seem very crowded and overwhelming. Detailed product copy is favoured over white space, while images and text are far from spared. This style may go against everything you have heard about successful UX, but embracing it is key to keeping consumers on your brand’s page. You can avoid complications that come with website design by using website management tools like the ones offered by W2. These make it quick and easy to build landing pages and make adjustments and content alterations.

Be seasonal

Having a solid website is key when it comes to catering to local holidays and celebrations. In fact, W2 found that websites can see up to a 300% peak on certain days and during holidays, so you must be prepared to handle this surge in traffic. And with 16 national holidays every year in Japan, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to make an impact.

Website traffic can increase by up to 300% during sales and holidays.

These special events come with an uplift in sales across luxury items, travel and leisure related products, as consumers go all out spending on themselves and loved ones. Keep in mind local dates such White Day on March 14th, a second Valentine’s Day, while Golden Week - kicking off on April 29th - includes four holidays alone. Meanwhile, many employees across the nation receive annual bonuses during the summer months, creating another busy period for spending and gift-giving, known as Ochugen.

2. Customer experience builds loyalty

‘Omotenashi’ is a deeply rooted cultural practice in Japan, focused on anticipating customers' wishes. There are many ways you can do this, and the better experience you provide for new guests and regulars, the more loyal they will become.

Consistency across platforms

Offering structured customer support that exceeds expectations is held in high regard in Japan. If this is an area you’re looking to strengthen, it may be worth leveraging unified commerce across your offline and digital channels. This goes beyond omnichannel, offering effective cross-channel experiences.

By connecting what happens behind the scenes, including payments, you’ll unlock a whole new world of data. This will prove to be invaluable for fulfilling consumers’ needs, in customer support and beyond.

The power of email

Email marketing in Japan is expected to grow by 9.4% between 2020-2027, making it an effective way to retain customers, especially later in the day. A Salesforce study discovered that 44% of Japanese respondents check their email last thing in their digital day - making it a valuable pre and post-sales tool.

This is especially the case if the content is personalised, adding real value to the customer’s purchase journey and increasing the chance of them placing repeat purchases. One way to help this along is, with a local speaker, carefully selecting which character set to use - Kanju, Hiragana or Katakana, as each creates a different tone to the message.

According to W2, combining your CRM strategy with marketing intelligence to create behaviour based email automation is a further recipe for successful purchases. For example, you can prevent cart abandonment when a customer visits and leaves your website by storing their activity in their CRM profile. That way you encourage them to return and complete their transaction, plus recommend further items.

3. Cashless is coming

In 2018, up to 82% of payments in Japan were made by cash, so to raise cashless payments to 40% by 2025 would be a huge feat.

With the pandemic changing habits and making us think twice about exchanging physical money, locals are steadily switching to digital and contactless payments.

Be ready for new ways to pay

Konbini payment, or convenience store payment, is currently the second most popular online payment method in Japan. It allows shoppers to pay for online orders using cash in store, through a unique reference number and barcode.

But when physical money isn’t readily available, and with the direction the government hopes to move in, payments via credit, debit, and IC cards are increasing. Since the pandemic began 72% of shoppers preferred using credit cards, with Visa, JCB and Mastercard serving as the front runners.

To be prepared for whatever new payment methods emerge, Adyen is always ready with our plug-and-play solution. With all major local payment methods available at the flick of a switch, you’ll stay ahead of the curve and meet consumers’ growing needs. Our Unified Commerce solution also plays a vital role here; it’s designed to keep your business agile by giving you a single view of your transactions, all in one place - no matter where or how they’re made. Just think how beneficial this will be during those peak sales periods.

Keep things secure

A study conducted in December 2020 found that more than half of respondents in Japan were concerned about risks to their personal data, such as it being leaked or improperly used, when using cashless payment methods.

Security will doubtless play a big part in which payments provider you choose to work with, especially as the cashless culture grows. We understand and share your concerns. Our Risk management solution was designed to help block fraud, prevent disputes, and stay ahead of the latest fraud trends. Combining advanced technology with customisable risk rules means whatever industry you’re in, you can help protect your operations from security breaches.

So, as you can see, by catering to Japan’s quirks and unique opportunities there is a great deal of potential to grow your business and make an impact in the country. To discover and learn more, check out our Japan guide in full and let yourself be transported to this magical, fast-moving market.

Still want to learn more?

If you'd like to explore how we can help you expand into Japan, or any other market, get in touch below:

Get in touch


Are you looking for test card numbers?

Would you like to contact support?