Japan’s e-Commerce Market: A Skillfully Successful Market Competitor Amongst Giants
As the 4th-ranking largest e-commerce market worldwide – right behind largely populous countries like China, the United States, and the United Kingdom – Japan is no stranger to intense eCommerce competitiveness in the global eCommerce market. From 2012-2018 (a period of only 6 years), the Japanese e-Commerce market grew by a whopping 89% – from a market worth of 86.5 billion to 163.5 billion U.S. dollars; considering that the U.S.’ total population outstretches Japan’s by more than 60%, this market worth growth factor’s astonishing – as the U.S. e-Commerce market grew during this period by 125% (from USD$ 230.5 billion – USD$ 519.6 billion dollars) – only 28.8% compared to Japan’s market growth during that timeframe.
Since Japan’s success during the early 2010s, a highly-developed economy, well-urbanized population, strong internet penetration, and single-language culture have largely contributed to the country’s e-Commerce growth amongst the other three eCommerce giants; Japan’s excellent infrastructure and small size provide for eSellers rapid delivery times – and, additionally, it’s penetration rate (above 93%) has provided for eCommerce sellers in such eCommerce platforms as Amazon Japan, DMM, Mercari, Qoo10 Japan (formerly GMarket), Rakuma and Rakuten, Wowma, Yahoo!, Zozo Town, and other online e-Commerce Store sellers an unprecedented – albeit congestive – opportunity to reach large Japanese eCommerce consumer numbers with their brands – whether it be the older generations, the baby boomers, or the younger generations – allowing them to maximize on strong customer acquisition and customer retention rates so that they may increment their brands’ customer loyalty and find long-term financial security and a steady forward-moving financial success. Behind Japan’s success throughout the mid-to-late 2010s, the Japanese eCommerce market has been building strong e-Commerce sales momentum – and, that is not expected to even come near to a rolling stop. Japan’s e-commerce sector is expected to continue active growth throughout the years ahead – and, by 2025, its market is forecast to reach an astonishing worth of US$ 3.4 billion dollars – up from its US$ 163.5 billion in 2018, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.7%.
eCommerce Market Success in Japan: Solid Opportunities for Cross-border eCommerce Expansion
As we consider Japan’s recent electronic sales success and highly-optimistic 3-to-4-year future eCommerce market growth forecast, we must clearly emphasize that market-expanding eSellers looking to extend their sales overseas and penetrate Japan’s eCommerce market have a solid chance for long-term eCommerce sales success considering that over 70% of Japanese adults out of the overall 93% of the Japanese population’s internet penetration use the internet for online shopping alone; this doesn’t even take into account the percentage of young people that contribute to online sales.
Genuine Top-tier Customer Service: the Path to the Japanese Consumer’s Heart
For cross-border global eCommerce sellers looking to take their eSales into the Japanese eCommerce market and take advantage of the market’s predicted boom and Japan’s optimistically-looking future long-term economic growth, it’s vitally important to understand how best to resonate with Japanese consumers so that their customer service teams can provide superb pre-sales/post-sales customer service that creates attractive long-term customer relationships built on a strong business-to-consumer (B2C) foundation that has trust and respect at its center; by putting into practice the following principles and more, customer service teams can tap right into the core of each Japanese consumer’s heart, cultivating pleasant customer service experiences that motivate native Japanese eCommerce customers to remain long-term loyal shoppers and influence them to happily spread the word to others, creating long-term loyalty and an even grander customer base.
Omotenashi – Whole-hearted Care for Everyone
Omotenashi – which signifies “preventative hospitality” – is a Japanese word that describes the spirit of the Japanese people; when referring to e-Commerce customer service, this word carries the connotation of earnest and passionate customer service that shows customers whole-hearted care and devotion. To provide an example from our Western world: omotenashi is the feeling that one gets when someone gives them “the shirt off their back” – that is, when another gives without counting the sacrifice’s cost.
For customer care representatives, the spirit of omotenashi can be applied when:
- every customer is enthusiastically and sincerely taken care of fervently and proactively,
- every contact via multichannel communication and Telecom platforms (i.e. phone calls, live chat w/ conversational AI [artificial intelligence], SMS messaging, e-mails, and social media) is taken with equal heart and a holy greeting,
- every customer feels that the eCommerce business providing the customer service deserves their business,
- consumer needs are anticipated completely, and
- a lot of attention to detail is incorporated.
Keigo – Reputation is Key
Keigo – “respectful language” – is the politest form of the Japanese language reserved for formal, official situations and includes words, phrases, and conjugations that show humility and respect – but, the way of keigo doesn’t stop at the surface – it indicates a way of life. Customer care reps would do well to put into practice the way of keigo because it builds a strong business reputation that Japanese consumers can count on for their eCommerce needs.
Ways for CSRs to build a strong brand reputation include:
- showing empathy and creating the feeling that Japanese consumers’ issues are genuinely being considered; they’ll feel they can trust CSRs to handle their issues with care and a sense of understanding and urgency,
- knowing and reinforcing the business’ vision – a superb way for CSRs to keep their focus on the business’ short-term/long-term goals regardless of any arising issues, ensuring that they continue to put their best foot forward and don’t compromise on the quality of service that they provide; the reward will be high-quality customer experiences that build strong loyalty and a plethora of happy long-term Japanese customers, and
- offering a consistent service experience that’s always as good as the first – a strong means of building a positive brand image; consistently taking customer service to the next level through considering what customers really need and think about, through anticipating customer inquiries, and through considering customers as a lifelong valuable asset can ensure their customer loyalty.
Ichi-go ichi-e – The Importance of a Lasting Impression
Ichi-go ichi-e – literally, “a lasting first impression” – is a philosophical concept that describes treasuring the transient nature of a moment; since there’s no Ctrl+Z in real life to re-do the past, it’s vitally important that customer service representatives (CSRs) leave a lasting first impression that builds rapport and trust with Japanese consumers – since CSRs are the first, the last, and the in-between interaction that customers have with businesses at face value – meaning that they represent the business on all aspects.
CSRs can put into practice the following to leave a lasting first impression:
- deliver on made promises and always be transparent with consumers if promises can’t be fulfilled,
- keep communication personal and empathetic, and
- keep communication available via all possible communications channels.
Reaching the Japanese Heart: the Vital Importance of Native Call Center Customer Service Outsourcing
As we’ve seen above, Japanese culture – that to which cross-border e-Commerce sellers are looking to expand their eCommerce sales – requires top-quality customer service that shows Japanese e-Commerce consumers earnest care with fervency, respect and honor, and that builds mutual trust between the consumer and the cross-border eSeller. While putting into practice the above-mentioned principles is accomplishable, meeting that standard of customer service excellence completely simply isn’t feasible without considering call center customer service outsourcing; with outsourced customer service solutions via a contact center, eCommerce businesses like your own can reach a high customer service level standard since all Japanese customers will have access to 24/7/365 localized customer service options in their own native language and through every telecommunications channel, guaranteeing clear communication without language barriers and no service limitations – all to the relative convenience of each of Japan’s customers.
That’s where our very own Callnovo Contact Center comes in – your Global Customer Service Experts; our own call center – an international leader in customer service outsourcing with service experience in more than 40 different industries – has been providing superb customer service outsourcing solutions to 1,000+ businesses for more than 16 years. Our customer service teams can skillfully provide omnichannel customer service through all telecommunications platforms and in 35+ different native languages (i.e. English, Japanese, Malaysian, Spanish, Mandarin / Cantonese, French, Indonesian, Korean, Russian, German, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese – amongst others) to ensure that your customers receive top-tier service when needed. Furthermore, through our detailed 6-step hiring and onboarding process that provides rigorous soft-skills training throughout the entirety of each agent’s time onboard – as well as constant monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) through our highly-customizable Global Omnichannel SaaS Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform – businesses like your own can rest, assured that they’ll have what it takes to create strong customer loyalty amongst Japanese consumers so that they may compete in the global sales market at a higher level.
While the Japanese eCommerce market’s booming and is in good market growth shape for the next 5 years or so, global eSellers have a grand opportunity to build their eCommerce sales future through exceptional customer service that taps right into the hearts of all Japanese consumers; we urge businesses to consider how customer service outsourcing solutions like our very own can help take their market expansion efforts to the next level, creating opportunities to build strong brand loyalty within Japan’s eCommerce market and further increasing their long-term financial sales success.