Marketing Shopify

[A must see for anyone considering expanding their site to the Japanese market] Essential functions for E-Commerce sites in Japan

Here we would like to introduce what functions are important for E-Commerce sites in Japan, and how to implement them into your website using Shopify!

1.Designated Delivery Time

In Japan, designated delivery time is essential. I always select a delivery time when I order things online.
In the US, there is no designated delivery time, except for with Amazon!
I was shocked to find out that in the US packages are just left outside your door in the US when they are delivered.

Designated delivery time is for sure a must have function. On Shopify, you can easily add functions to your online store by installing apps from the App Store. You can of course introduce designated delivery time to you store as well using an App!


Order Delivery Date, for example, is an app that allows you to display a calendar on the checkout screen where customers can simply and clearly select a delivery time. You can even customize the calendar to match the design of the rest of the website!

2.Displaying Sale Prices, Adding Labels

It seems that sale prices are displayed slightly differently in Japan and the US.
In Japan, you can easily see how much products are discounted during a sale and their final price in one quick glance. However, outside of Japan customers oftentimes do not see the final sale price until they go to their cart.

Let’s take a look at the major apparel brand Beams. As you can see below, customers are shown which products are on sale directly on the product list page.

 On Shopify, sales are mostly conducted through discount codes, similar to what we in Japan refer to as coupons. In the US, generally, customers input discount codes (also called “Promo codes”) at the checkout screen to receive a discount or free shipping. However, just as Nana said, in Japan we are not used to this kind of sale display.

Of course, you can also conduct Japanese-style sales using Shopify.

On the product page, you can input both the retail price and the sale price so that the customer can clearly see the sale price before checking out.

Since you can export the CSV format, you can quickly update your site simply by exporting a CSV containing the new updated prices.

You can do the same thing using the app Discount Master ‑ Quantity, which allows you to create multiple discount campaigns and even set up countdown timers. You can also create “Buy X Get Y” campaigns. 

However, if you do not want to apply a time limit to your sale, or do not want to pay for the app, we recommend that you use a “Discount Code,” which is easy to create and will allow you to apply a discount to specific products.

One more question about sales: Can you add labels to certain items so that customers can quickly and easily see what products are part of a limited-time offer? That is also quite common for Japanese E-commerce sites.

For example, the large fashion E-Commerce mall, ZOZOTOWN:

This is really important. With EC malls you often see labels at the bottom of the product photos. This too is of course possible for your website. Product Labels is an app that allows you to set up any labels you like, such as for products that are on sale, “hot,” or out of stock. 

You can even choose from a number of possible positions where to place the labels, providing a level of customizability not available with other apps. No complaints there!

There aren’t really many platforms that allow you to easily implement these functions to your site. With Spotify, there is almost always an app on the App Store that can handle what you are looking for. 

3. Volume Discounts

Can you create volume discounts, discounts which provide a certain percent off if customers purchase certain products together? It would be nice if you can not only when buying one specific product in bulk, but when buying a combination of certain items.

In Japan, stores tend to come out with smaller end of the week campaigns, as opposed to storewide sales, for example a 10% off discount when buying both outerwear and a top, or 20% off for buying both a coffee maker and coffee beans.

Sites such as Amazon, which deal with a large amount of foreign capital, can do larger sales. However domestic EC sites tend to have sales more often but with a lower discount rate and fewer target items.

You can use the same Discount Master – Quantity app introduced earlier when talking about discount codes in order to discounts for buying multiple items. Or, you can try using Volume & Tiered Discounts, another easy to use app.

But if you are just trying to provide a discount of buying both outerwear and a top together, I recommend that you use the Buy X get Y discount code on Shopify.

What is “Buy X get Y?”

It’s a discount that means “If you buy X, get Y ~% off ! Or free!”

For example, if you were to apply the discount “buy a piece of outerwear, get a top 50% off,” the total for a $150 piece of outerwear and a $50 top goes down from $200 to $175.

Wow, that seems really useful!

4. Displaying Best-Selling Items

I feel like displaying best-selling items is also characteristic for Japan, even a must have for any E-Commerce site or mall. The E-Commerce mall, Rakuten, for example, ranks their products for each category. It’s amazing how much sales of a product are affected simply by being on the best-selling items list or not.

Major apparel retailer Baycrews incorporated a best-selling items list display on their homepage, and sure enough there is a big difference in sales for products listed there. This would be an especially effective tool in Japan, where people love to buy what’s popular.

I totally agree. Displaying best-selling items is extremely important,  not only for apparel, but for any store, such as one that sells digital products orgeneral goods.

On Shopify, you can create “collections” within your store by grouping products together based on various conditions.

You can set the order in which products in a collection are displayed, such as by sales ranking. 
You can easily display the best selling items since most of the templates on Shopify automatically display the collections at the top of the site.

5. Cash on Delivery, Paying at a Convenience Store

In Japan, you have the option to pay cash on delivery or at a convenience store. ”Cash on Delivery” means that the customer pays cash to the courier upon delivery. ”Convenience Store Payment,” just as the name suggests, means the customer can settle their account in cash at one of the nation-wide convenience stores. 
This may be unexpected in the US, which has gone almost completely cashless, but in Japan these are the most used payment methods next to paying by credit card.

As you can see, there is still a high demand to pay with cash in Japan, so you should be sure to incorporate these methods into your site. 
If you do add cash on delivery as a delivery option, make sure to clearly state any additional handling charge it may incur on your site.

6. Reward Programs

One more thing! Can you incorporate a point system? Reward Programs are extremely common for Japanese EC.
They also tend to emphasize customer loyalty more so than in other countries through programs that provide rewards to their customers based on their total annual purchases, rewards such as gifts or early access to sales.

The rate of repeat customers for E-Commerce stores in Japan is extremely high, and although they tend to buy only a few items at a time, they spend more on average for each purchase than anywhere else in the world. It’s a good idea to introduce programs geared to repeat customers, such as a reward program using points.

There are many apps on Shopify to create a reward program, but there are also Japanese apps which provide Japanese language support. Foreign apps often require that points be transferred to coupons, but the Japanese app allows customers to simply use their points as is, making it more convenient for the customer.

How was that?

E-Commerce varies depending on the country more than you may have expected, doesn’t it. I hope this article was helpful!

GO RIDE provides international E-Commerce support between Japan and the US.

For more information, please feel free to contact us from here.

About the author

Nana

Nana

Photographer