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B2C e-commerce in Japan - statistics & facts

Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce refers to transactions between businesses and consumers mediated over the internet. The Japanese B2C e-commerce market is characterized by the prevalence of growing online sales to domestic end-consumers and a comparatively smaller digital cross-border market. As consumers value the sophisticated goods and services provided by trusted Japanese brands, the focus lies on the domestic market as a driver for future growth.
However, even though the country is well-known for its fast handling of logistics, customer-oriented services, and efficient solutions tailored to convenience, the implementation rate of online shopping is among the lowest within the Asia-Pacific region. While businesses started to shift to a multi-channel approach to defend their market positions against platform operators offering shopping around the clock, brick-and-mortar stores remain the main point of sales for non-durable goods.

Online marketplaces and stores

The Japanese mail-order market offers a variety of channels to distribute products throughout the country, with online sales replacing catalog orders and teleshopping as a flexible method for distance selling. But businesses are still shying away from building up their virtual brand stores, relying instead on the services of established online marketplaces. Rakuten Ichiba, Amazon Japan, and Yahoo! Shopping offer third-party sellers a platform to set up their virtual stores, with the three e-commerce websites reaching millions of shoppers in the country.
The domestic market is led by the Japanese e-commerce and FinTech company Rakuten, Inc., which has been successfully operating its business-to-many (B2M) platforms for several decades. With more than 50 million merchants selling over Rakuten Ichiba, the product range rivals Amazon Japan in variety. Apart from B2C retail, the company operates the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) business Rakuma, competing against its rivals, Yahoo! Auctions and Amazon Marketplace’s second-hand goods sales.

Digital shoppers in Japan

Even though e-commerce is emerging in Japan and consumers are becoming more familiar with online transactions, store-based retail remains key to the domestic business landscape. Among digital buyers, purchases are mainly made on major marketplaces, with direct-to-consumer (D2C) websites falling behind in popularity. Shopping mall formats like the three leading e-commerce platforms are popular types of websites, convincing potential customers with their broad selection, free-shipping services, and a variety of payment methods. To cater to a cash-centered society in which the realization of cashless payment is sluggish, online retailers offer konbini payment to consumers avoiding e-money use, a cash-based billing method for online orders settled at counters of convenience stores.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent states of emergencies gave online channels a significant boost, the lifting of restrictions capped the formation of a potential boom. The growth in physical goods sales was able to offset a dip in the service sector, but the experience of going out and visiting a physical store became enticing for consumers who practiced self-restraint during the past two years, calling for platform operators to give their customers a convincing reason to stay online.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "B2C e-commerce in Japan".

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