Opening Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) is not an easy process. You need a Japanese phone number, address, and customer support representative. You may also be required to get permission to sell your products in Japan depending on the nature of your product (e.g. alcohol). You cannot ship your goods to Amazon like sending a gift to your friend in Japan using FedEx, because Amazon cannot serve as the declarant, importer of record, or consignee on any customs documentation for goods you send to an Amazon warehouse in Japan.
It would be a huge waste of money and time if your products don’t sell well in Japan.
Unfortunately, that is not rare. I get so many requests from companies all over the world to help them market their products in Japan because they have almost no sales and literally no reviews on their Amazon listings.
In this article, I will explain what you can do to prevent that misfortune from you.
1. Don’t hire native Japanese ‘translators’
When you list your products in Amazon.com, would you or did you hire just any native speakers of English who don’t understand your products, marketing or copywriting at all? No. They are written by you or by professional copywriters.
If you Amazon listings are not configured and written well, they won’t drive sales.
Professional copywriters are more expensive than regular translators or your customer support reps, but it’s worth it. I mean, what kind of copywriter needs to work as customer support rep? Copywriters who cannot copywrite their service to sell their service cannot write kickass copies for your products.
2. Your competitors are your best teachers
It always surprises me how many of my customers assume that their Amazon.com strategy works in Amazon Japan.
Look at Rakuten, the biggest e-commerce platform in Japan. Their design is awful, at least in westerns eyes, but we like it. It looks like old school paper direct mail which 99% of Japanese customers prefer than elegant minimalistic design.
Watch anime(cartoon in Japan) or drama in Japan, everything is different from Simpsons or Game of Thrones.
The best way to learn the difference between Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp is to check top seller of your category. You would be surprised how weird they look to you.
3. Minimal design is not Japanese
As evidenced by the popularity of flashy and noisy design of Rakuten, Japanese consumers don’t like simple and minimalistic design in ads. They want as much information as possible about your products. They may even consider having white space on your website or Amazon listing images are waste of spaces.
4. Don’t forget Amazon Sponsored Ads
In a perfect world, if your products are good, consumers find them buy them, and they stop buying your competitors’ products. We both know that’s not how it works. Consumers don’t research or try new alternatives when they are happy with what they already have, or maybe even when they are not really happy with what they already have…
That is why we have ads. In the internet era, where all connected individuals have tools to do their research to make the best shopping decisions which seem to make ads obsolete, we have never had more ads in our history.
If they won’t look for you, make them notice that you are there using Amazon Sponsored Ads.
5. Also, don’t forget digital marketing outside of Amazon
Amazon Sponsored Ads and Amazon Listings are great. You can do many things.
But, sometimes, it’s not enough.
Amazon and Amazon users are not fair. Popular products get more and more reviews, but nobody pays attention to new products with no stars. This is called the Bandwagon effect in psychology. The bandwagon effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it.
I understand them. I never stay at hostels with zero reviews. It’s risky. You don’t think? Have you watched the movie “Hostel” by Tarantino?
If ads don’t drive sales, you need marketing effort outside of Amazon. For example, giving away a product to bloggers to get reviews on their blog.
Selling products in Amazon.co.jp needs so many steps and so much money. I understand that you get tempted to save money from translation, but don’t. Aim perfect or don’t register it at all. Halfbaked efforts are worse than not trying sometimes.