B2C and C2C e-commerceThe consumer-oriented e-commerce market is characterized by the prevalence of business-to-consumer (B2C) retail as a driver for growth and a comparatively smaller consumer-to-consumer (C2C) market carried by online auctions and flea market platforms. Online marketplaces play a major role in the integration of Japanese consumers into the digital economy, introducing users to online transactions, digital payment methods, and mobile shopping applications. As consumers prefer the services of familiar domestic brands over cross-border purchases, e-commerce mostly features trades within country borders.
Apart from ordering new goods, consumers are increasingly considering flea market applications a flexible and convenient method to resell used goods. With popular C2C applications like Mercari driving the growth of the mobile economy, devices such as tablets and smartphones are growing important as means to access B2C retailers as well. Furthermore, digital buyers are getting used to the variety of electronic money services, which act not only as a settlement method within the frame of online shopping, but also at instore retailers through cashless payment services like credit cards, mobile QR codes, and smart cards.
Digital shopping trendsEven though consumers are still hesitating to fully shift their purchases online, internet shopping is taking off in Japan, with e-commerce penetration reaching decade-highs and households raising monthly expenditures on online orders. While store-based retail remains at the center to supply domestic consumers with daily necessities, digital stores cater to households on tight time schedules with around-the-clock shopping and the possibility to stay at home to address care responsibilities. Therefore, online grocers are garnering attention, with long-standing retail chains setting up their version of an online supermarket. But the market still has room to grow since foodstuff show one of the lowest e-commerce ratios of sales among physical goods in Japan, with durable goods ranking the highest.
Apart from the procurement of new or used goods, the e-commerce market offers a platform for the sharing economy. Allowing participants to share physical goods, services, or skilled labor, peer-to-peer transactions are drawing the interest of young adults. Besides financial aspects geared towards users with tight budgets, sharing platforms are considered an opportunity to address economic and social issues by reducing wasteful consumption, catering to a growing consciousness towards sustainable lifestyles in Japan. Although consumers remain hesitant to give up traditional shopping activities outside the home, convenience and customer-oriented services are incentives driving the integration of online shopping in Japanese households, with platform economies benefitting from the exposure to online transactions.