#539 – Selling on Amazon Japan – All You Need To Know

As the landscape of Japanese e-commerce undergoes a seismic shift, we’re fortunate to have e-commerce experts Nick Katz and Gary Huang join us again to unpack the transformation. It’s a world where Amazon goes toe-to-toe over local stalwart Rakuten, a surprising twist given the resilience of Japan’s physical storefronts during a pandemic that skipped a full lockdown. Their insights shed light on Rakuten’s gamble to step away from their cornerstone points program, a move that has sellers keenly watching the horizon for its ripple effects.

Steering through the complexities of international logistics, this episode covers the strategic use of freight forwarding when entering the Japanese market, a journey our expert guests navigated firsthand. We dive into the benefits of Japan’s proximity to China, the advantages of trade agreements with other Asian nations, and reminisce about the global hiccup caused by the Suez Canal crisis. These discussions are not just theoretical musings; they’re actionable insights for bolstering your bottom line and carving out a niche in one of the world’s most dynamic Amazon marketplaces.

Finally, we celebrate the cultural tapestry that is Japanese business ethos, examining the surprising competitive edge that international sellers can unleash with astute analytics and Amazon product reviews. These narratives of success and support—from local sellers to global players—culminate in an invitation to an upcoming event in Okinawa, promising to be an epicenter for networking amongst the entrepreneurial elite. It’s here where the theoretical becomes tangible, and where the future of selling in Amazon Japan takes shape before our very eyes.

In episode 539 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley, Gary, and Nick discuss:

  • 00:00 – Sell on Amazon Japan Expert Tips
  • 07:47 – E-Commerce Changes in Amazon Japan
  • 12:04 – Import Taxes and Duties Abroad 
  • 14:25 – Freight Forwarding and Japan Business Opportunities
  • 22:16 – Success Stories of Selling in Japan
  • 29:37 – Selling in Niche Markets – Japan
  • 33:49 – Leveraging Global Reviews for Success

Transcript

Bradley Sutton:
Today we’ve got two of the world’s foremost experts on selling on the one Amazon marketplace that you probably aren’t selling in, but you need to be Amazon Japan, where sellers are making more profit than all their other Amazon marketplaces. How cool is that? Pretty cool I think. We know that getting to page one on keyword search results is one of the most important goals that an Amazon seller might have. So track your progress on the way to page one and even get historical keyword ranking information and even see sponsored ad rank placement with keyword tracker by Helium 10. For more information, go to h10.me/keywordtracker. Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the series sellers podcast by Helium 10. I’m your host, Bradley Sutton, and this is the show. That’s a completely BS free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the e-commerce world. And it’s the middle of the night almost middle of the night here, so I’m in my normal attire of what I wear every night here in my house, but the only people that I can go ahead and keep this on and not have to change back to work clothes when I do something at this hour of the day is the two guests here because they are actually in Japan right now. So we are, makes me feel right at home here with what I’m wearing. We have a back on the show, Nick and Gary. Welcome back, guys.

Nick:
Thank you.

Gary:
It’s great to be back and for those of you guys that are listening, I can see Bradley. He has like a black and white sumo themed what they call you could tell or like a robe, but he wears it very well. I love the Japanese motif you got going on. It’s great to see you.

Bradley Sutton:
Yes, thank you for that. Likewise I haven’t seen Nick in a year. But, Gary, you know we saw each other. We had some nice Tonkatsu right there in Ginza a while back a few months ago with my favorite place to eat over there. So it was nice to see you there. But you know, for those who want to get the full backstory, go back guys to episode 426 was the first time Gary was on. Nick’s been on before then as well. But 426 was from last year and we had a lot of updates on what’s going on in Amazon Japan and since then there’s been new things. So I wanted to, you know, invite you guys back. But I’m not saying this is the reason. But we were talking earlier about how my LA Dodgers was able to sign Ohtani and Yamamoto, my two favorite baseball players, both Japanese, but I’m looking on the 7 Figure Seller Japan Mastermind website at last year’s event. Let me just show everybody this. All right, I’m not saying that the Dodgers have me to thank, but last year at this event I wore my Helium 10 Dodgers themed jersey and you can see me here in this picture. I’m explaining something. I’m like think about it, man Ohtani is going to come to the Dodgers. He’s like oh, I’m not exactly sure, but I was telling him that the Dodgers are coming. Well, we’re going to talk about your new event this year for sure. I just wanted to call that out, though. You know, dodgers, you know. Let me give you my address. My check should be in the mail. You have me to think I set the ground, I set the standard there last year early. Anyways, let’s start with Nick. How many years, now total, have you been Japan? I know Gary’s newer, but how many years do you have under your belt?

Nick:
I can’t even count how many years now, but I came in 1995. So whatever it is from then?

Bradley Sutton:
1995. Yes, that’s quite a while. Right after a few years, just after I moved out. Now You’ve been there so long. Just like you just said, the years kind of just bleed together. But if we were just to start off with one of the biggest changes in the e-commerce landscape in Japan in the last year, what would it be? This is maybe like the first kind of full year after COVID and dust is kind of settled. In America at least, there’s a lot of the boom that was happening in e-commerce, I wouldn’t say one crashing down. It’s a steep decline to pre-COVID time. Something similar in Japan, or how do you view the landscape over there?

Nick:
Yeah, well, I mean, e-commerce is very, very strong here. It still is very, very strong. Japan, unlike a lot of other countries, has always traditionally had very strong brick and mortar retail. People do like going to stores, but I mean, Japan never had a full-on lockdown, so most of the stores were open for most of the time. There were small periods where they weren’t open, but because we also do retail, we actually do distribution to stores. We’ve seen that they are really starting to cut back. So there has been a real shift to online and I’ve noticed, certainly in the last year. I hope no one from Rakuten is hearing this, but I think they’re starting to feel a little bit of pain. They’ve made a few adjustments and I think there is definitely more of a swing towards Amazon over Rakuten. They are pretty much half and half for the section of the market, no, of the section of the market, so they’ve both got about 20%.

Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, no, I mean, I thought Rakuten was still way ahead.

Nick:
No, I think Amazon has now overtaken Rakuten. It’s kind of hard to compare apples to apples, but it does look like Amazon has overtaken Rakuten and Rakuten have started to do some strange things cut back on their points program, which has always been their main strategy. That it was their strongest point the fact that you can collect points. Japanese people get Rakuten points in their lives, doing everything, and even my company has a Rakuten bank account. People have Rakuten. They have Rakuten for everything for travel, for insurance, for everything and it’s to get points. But Rakuten started to cut back on those points. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think that is going to encourage more people to move over. So that’s kind of something that I’m seeing personally, all the Rakuten is still a very, very good marketplace here.

Bradley Sutton:
All right, interesting. Now, going back to Gary, let’s take a step back from e-commerce. This is only what is it? Second, third year in Japan for you?

Gary:
Third year in Japan, one year in Tokyo.

Bradley Sutton:
Third year in Japan.

Gary:
Yeah, two and a half or two years in Okinawa.

Bradley Sutton:
How has your family settled in now? Japanese speaking, culture, food. Is it home now or still feels a little bit foreign?

Gary:
Well, I wish my Japanese was better. I mean, my son is 5, he’s in pre-kindergarten. I’m pretty sure his Japanese is going to surpass mine very soon. But yeah, we’re acclimating very well and we actually just got back from a trip from Hokkaido, which is in the north, really nice skiing. My wife had, they have this drift ice area in the northern part of Hokkaido like literally the ocean is like frozen, and my wife had that on her bucket list for many years and we were able to do that. So, yeah, very fortunate to be here and, yeah, very happy.

Bradley Sutton:
That’s awesome. Yeah, I used to live right south of there, in Aomori, for about a year and a half. Not quite as cold as Hokkaido, the oceans didn’t get frozen over there but it was cold, I didn’t mind that. I went back last year. Yeah, I went back to Aomori for the first time in like 20 years no, 25 years and so it was nice to go out there. My son actually went to Hokkaido. My son took his very first trip without his parents. He was friends and he actually went to Hokkaido before me. Now, what about e-commerce for you? Like, what have you noticed on your side that has changed? Maybe specifically more to Amazon Japan for your network of sellers there in the community?

Gary:
Selling on Amazon. Amazon is still very strong. We can get deliveries very quickly. But, for example, when we went up to Hokkaido, rather than buying like a sled and like lugging it from Tokyo to Hokkaido, we just ordered off Amazon and shipped it to the hotel and you know my son was thrilled. He was ready to go, and so Amazon has that coverage. But one of the biggest changes for e-commerce sellers foreign sellers especially importing into Japan is there was a new import law change October of 2023. So previously you could use what they call a importer of record or IOR. I mean, you’re not in Japan. If, let’s say, you’re a US seller with the LLC, previously you could use an IOR, a company that’s importer of record to represent you to import the products. But now they changed the law because it seems the government is getting smarter when it comes to all of these e-commerce sellers. So now you have to go through ACP. I think that stands for Attorney of Customs Process. I might be getting the verbiage mixed up, but basically it’s a different scheme and you may have to pay more in the taxes because you will be billed on the total selling cost. So that’s the Amazon cost. So that’s one of the big changes that we’re seeing so far.

Bradley Sutton:
So if somebody was already selling Japan, they don’t need to convert to that. They can keep going with their importer of record. Or do they need now? They needed, you know, even if they already have tenure there, they got to switch to this new thing.

Nick:
Yeah, so it’s actually import base, so it’s the time that you import. So if you’re importing after October 1st, in theory you can’t use IOR. I should probably stress the fact that this is all in theory. I can tell you that there are sellers who are still importing using Chinese freight forwarders, who are getting the goods into totally fine, but in theory there is no more IOR and so you have to use this. As Gary was mentioning ACP, which, although it’s not so, the tax and duty is based on the selling price, which doesn’t mean it’s not exactly on the selling price. You’re allowed to remove the cost, like Amazon fees and certain things, but the whole concept is that who is the purchaser of the goods. So if you’re, if you’re not a domestic company, if you’re an international seller that don’t have a registered business in Japan, then the goods being sent to Japan, going to Amazon, going to the customer the customer is the person purchasing the goods, so for tax and duty should be based on what they’re paying, as opposed to, for example, for my company. We’re based in Japan, so we actually do purchase the goods. We can show a paper trail back to the supplier. We are the purchaser, so we only pay tax and duty and what we buy it for and then we set it on Amazon. So it’s just the way that the import office is just customs office is kind of interpreting. It’s all a bit gray, to be honest, but that’s kind of how they’re interpreting it. The actual final buyer online is the kind of original purchaser of the goods. Therefore, tax and duty should be based off whatever they are paying.

Bradley Sutton:
And then what? So is the customer paying for that then?

Nick:
No, so the customer isn’t paying it. So, but that is what they are using. So it’s actually the ACP, or so you have to pay. So your company pays, so the customer isn’t paying that, but that’s what they’re basing off and that’s their reasoning for it. They are essentially, they’re being almost regarded as the importer, which is obviously just ridiculous.


Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, but it’s not something like in Europe, where VAT is applied to what the customer’s paying at the time of purchase and then the. I believe that I don’t even sell in Europe, so I believe the seller has to remit that or Amazon keeps it, but it’s like that price has to include that and so it’s kind of like a surcharge. But how much are we talking about, like for somebody like me? I’m selling, let’s say I sell in Japan and I’m importing. Like are my duties and all these taxes? Is it comparable to you know what I’m doing by importing from China to US and what I have to pay for customs? Or is it more? Is it less?

Nick:
Well, it kind of depends on a few different things. Obviously depends on the categories and exactly what the products are, you have to remember. So in Japan the consumption tax is a lot lower than, for example, Europe. You mentioned Europe. So the tax is 10% in Japan, or it’s 8% if it’s, for example, food or drink. So, but because they base it on the price that you’re selling as opposed to the price that you are actually purchasing the goods, for at that point it will be a bit higher. But there are. I say there are lots of ways actually around this and I don’t know if Gary is going to mention it. There are a lot of countries that have agreements where you don’t actually have to pay duty at all, for example. But it does kind of make things smoother and easier if it’s a Japanese business doing the import as opposed to an international business. And one of the main ways around it is that you get a company in Japan to do the import for you and that kind of covers all of the problems. So all the large kind of import companies. That’s what they’re doing now. They’re essentially importing themselves, paying the supplier, and then you only pay the tax and duty on basically the cost of goods, so it will become a lot cheaper. So you kind of have like a bit of a middleman in there.

Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, makes sense. Now this question is for either of you. So at what point am I having to have my ducks in a row for this like am I? Do I need that already when I apply to sell in Japan? You know, I just go into my US, or if I’m a European seller, I go into my European seller central and apply to sell in Japan. Are they already asking me for this? You know ACP preview, the artist formerly known as IOR, or is that just something I need to take care of by the time?

Nick:
It’s something you need to take care of yourself. Amazon is not involved in this whatsoever. This is completely

Bradley Sutton:
No. But are they asking me? for it, for like proof that I have that. Just to apply the account?

Nick:
No. So basically, when you want to send goods to Japan, you just speak to your freight forwarder, whoever you use, and the freight forwarder will give you all the information and sort it out for you. It’s not something that you really need to do yourself. The freight forwarder will do that. So the freight forwarder is traditionally done IOR. A lot of the Chinese freight forwarders, as I said, are still doing it and they seem to be getting the goods in quite fine. But there’s something that you will do through your freight forwarder so whoever you use and to ship the goods, that. So it’s not something you specifically need to kind of go out and do yourself in most circumstances.

Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, all right, makes sense. That’s good, like I thought it was something I had to, like, you know, find and or maybe you know, hire a company to handle it. But that’s good to know that. You’re like me. For example, when I import from from China to US, I actually don’t worry about anything. Yes, there are obviously customs, yes, there’s some kind of certification, but actually my sourcing agent, who’s also my freight forwarder, she handles all that for me. I’m like, all right, you know apply, you know tell me what you need from me, but you take care of everything. That’s nice to know that there’s something like that, where you know I don’t have to go searching in the Japanese yellow pages for people on my own, so that’s good to know.

Nick:
Yeah, I mean, if it’s all set up, you don’t? There isn’t any extra work that needs to be done by you.

Bradley Sutton:
Now, Gary, you know like speaking, you know we’re talking about freight forwarding. You had mentioned something interesting. You know, in recent months, obviously many Sellers in Europe were affected and actually worldwide about. You know what was going on with the pirates of the Caribbean, there in the Suez Canal, like you know, the Red Sea, you know like that, that affected shipping prices worldwide because you know like ships couldn’t go there. You know they didn’t want to get shot down and things, and then obviously you know there are shipping delays and that increases prices. You know people felt it here in the States, people felt it in Europe, but you were saying kind of in Japan it was whatever, right, because it’s so, so close.

Gary:
Yeah, I mean the Suez Canal Crisis. It’s really impacting ocean freight all over the world, like going from like 2000 something dollars or containers, who you know, over 5,000 and even more right, even if you’re not, by passing through Suez canal, because it has a ripple effect, because it’s taking longer for the ships to go around, like South of Africa, so it adds like two additional weeks and most people don’t realize. You have to factor in for the containers as well, because the containers are used, so you have to have more empty containers to accommodate that. But if you look at the map, you know Japan is China’s neighbor, right? So I mean a container from China to Japan can arrive in, you know, like a week, so it’s really fast, I mean compared to China, USA, you know 30 to 45 days or even more right, so you can definitely save a lot of time shipping if you’re selling in Amazon, Japan shipping from China. And also you can save a lot of money as well because distance wise is very close, I mean literally, I mean their neighbors, right, so you will save a lot of money as well. And then in terms of sellers, you know we were talking to with, you know, Brandon Young Last year and that was kind of like a light bulb moment for him, because if you can reduce the lead time you know from when the factory ships out the good until you land it, you know from you don’t have to keep so much inventory, right? So rather than buying up like three, four months of the inventory just staying stock, you could cut that to, let’s say, a month or two months inventory so that for the seller, that frees up your cash flow as well. If you were to sell in Japan, from China, Japan, given the shorter lead times. That’s why we feel like there’s, at least you know, this one big X factor for sellers. You know it would be an advantage to sell into Japan. If you’re sourcing from China and actually not only China, because you know, as they could quickly touch upon just a few minutes ago. If you’re sourcing from other countries in Asia, there’s actually three trade agreements between India and Japan, Vietnam in Japan and Thailand in Japan. So it depends on your exact product, but your product could come in if it’s made in India. If you’re exporting Japan, if you land duty free right, I mean, it could be zero. So there’s and obviously there’s no trade war going on between you know, China, Japan. So there’s no Trump tariffs and you could significantly reduce your landing cost and obviously that would help every seller, you know profit margins right if you’re able to do that. So you know there’s a lot of these type of logistical advantages that Japan has. Then not a lot of sellers are aware of, and you know that would it could. I mean you could land your product a lot cheaper, a lot faster. You know if your cash flow selling in Japan compared to other countries. So we feel like that’s one big advantage.

Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, I really need to get off my butt and do it. You know, like I’ve been saying I would, but I just been so busy at Helium 10 that I haven’t been able to expand any of my Amazon business almost like this week. I’m finally launching like three products for the first time in probably a year and a half. But um, but yeah, I need to get.

Gary:
Can we do a Project X Japan?

Bradley Sutton:
We should do that, yeah

Gary:
We should do a project here first.

Bradley Sutton:
Yeah, Project X will be doing. All right, I like it, we’ll do it. Anime with Japanese animation. We’ll get Wit studios to do it for us yeah. Speaking of Japan and Japan. So we’ll get back to the Amazon strategy. But let’s talk a little bit about the 7 Figure Seller Japan Mastermind. I attended last year. I’m probably going to attend this year. I’m not going like it in the official capacity. I think I like it so much I think I’m going to pay my own way, you know, because we have a certain budget for events at Helium 10 and then, you know, usually they rotate things, or one year we’ll do, you know, like last year we did Prague European one, this year we’re not doing that one, in the next year we might do it again or something, but this one wasn’t on the list for our travel budget. But you know I’m a points hacker, so, like I’m sure I could, you know, probably pay for a flight myself or make it not so much. And it’s going to be in a place that I have been in Japan 40 times, lived in Japan, have never, ever been, and that’s Okinawa. So, Gary, was it your decision to do it in Okinawa, since you had lived there before, or how did you decide that you’re going to do this event in Okinawa?

Gary:
Yeah, well, Okinawa I mean, for those that don’t know, it’s known as the Hawaii of Japan. So there’s beautiful beaches, it’s, you know, subtropical climate, and we were able to secure a fantastic resort hotel, that Hilton in Okinawa. So literally it’s on the beach. I wanted to do it in Okinawa, and I was talking with Nick as well, because it’s Japan, but it’s a nice change of pace as well. So it’s kind of like the Hawaii of Japan and then logistically, there’s, you know, the airport. You can arrive there pretty conveniently at Naha Airport and basically everyone’s going to be there at the same place. You know we have 8 figure sellers, 7 figure Japan sellers. We have, like, all these different experts. You know, every step of the way, right from compliance to shipping, localization etc. But yeah, and I kind of wanted to to give back to Okinawa as well, because during COVID I mean, some of you guys know my family story. We weren’t able to because we were living in Shanghai before. You know, I’m American and I couldn’t go back to Shanghai, even though my wife is Chinese. I lived there 11 years, I paid all my taxes. I couldn’t go back because they closed the border and my visa had expired. But Okinawa, you know they allowed us to stay on a temporary tourist visa for two and a half years. So Okinawa also is like the poorest prefecture in Japan and they really suffered a lot during COVID. So I’m just happy that you know people can come visit and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do in Okinawa, to kind of get back as well.

Bradley Sutton:
Alright, yeah, I’m a history buff, I’m a travel buff, so, alright, guys, you heard it here first. Like I’m committing that I’m going to go, you know so, April 8th to 10th. If you guys want to join, like, I have a forwarding website here that make it easier. Remember, just go to h10.me/japan and that’ll bring you to sign up and there will be, you know, a lot of great speakers talking about local. You know selling in Japan, strategies and, while I was there last year, you know there was a couple interesting success stories. I saw one I forgot his name, but one influencer who was doing 7 figures in Japan. I forgot his name, but, Nick, maybe you can give us some other success stories, maybe of either local Japanese sellers or maybe somebody from a foreign marketplace foreign to Japan. You know Europe or USA getting started in Japan and being successful? Any stories you can relate.

Nick:
So one of our clients is an international brand, they’re an American registered company and last year they cleared 7 figures and we’re definitely looking to do a lot more this year and that’s in two years. The sales currently are, so they’re actually doing very, very well.

Bradley Sutton:
Seven figures in US dollars, we’re talking. Seven figures in Japanese Yen is not too much, but you’re saying, you’re saying US dollars, right.

Nick:
No, we’re doing 7 figures in Yen a month now. So, no, yeah, they’re doing very, very well in America. They sell in Europe and they sell in Canada, but the Japanese sales are now almost comparable to the US sales, but the profit margins are a lot higher.

Bradley Sutton:
That was about to be my second question.

Nick:
Yeah, because you know things like the PPC is a hell of a lot cheaper. The ACoS for the account is about, I think it’s about 8, 9 percent now. The TACoS is about 3 or 4 percent and it’s the kind of figures you can’t really get in the US. So, actually in theory you could sell a lot less in Japan and still end up with the same kind of profit as you could in the US. But obviously, if you, if you’re getting sales close to the US, you’re probably going to have much, much higher margins. Japan really is cheaper. It’s a cheaper tax as well. If you are off the threshold to pay tax. But if you’re under 10 million Yen, which is probably about 60-70,000 US, if you’re under that in sales, you don’t have to pay consumption tax. There is no tax. So anybody like me selling in Europe who gets absolutely lost by the tax authorities there you know paying 19, 20, 21, 23 percent in some of the some of the regions in Europe, you could be selling, you know, 50-60,000 US in Japan and not have to pay any consumption tax whatsoever. So there are definite advantages to selling in Japan.

Bradley Sutton:
Another advantage that I’ve seen is the kind of Amazon seller culture is a little bit different. So, for example, the Chinese sellers and the foreign sellers there they’re used to. You know they’re using a lot of Chinese tools. They’re using Helium 10, you know to be able to do their keyword research. But one thing I noticed, you know at least last year or the year before, was a lot of the Japanese-based sellers, even some of the bigger ones, it’s like not in their business culture to really use like tools, like they’re not using Helium 10. They’re not using the Chinese tools and so sometimes you can go in there and like you might have these insights about keywords. You know running Cerebro, you know they wouldn’t have any idea what reverse ASIN means and you’ve got keywords that you can put in your listing that they might not even know because they’re just maybe relying on PPC to find their keywords. Is that still kind of like the case where you know tool usage is not widespread amongst the local Japanese selling community?

Nick:
Yeah, definitely. I think it comes from the fact that most of the sellers, most of the largest sellers, were originally on Rakuten and Rakuten there aren’t really as many kind of tools available, so they just haven’t really kind of built up the systems and kind of the processes to handle that kind of data. So no, I don’t think they are using it. Obviously the Chinese sellers are, but the local sellers don’t think are anywhere near as much.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah, that’s definitely what I’ve noticed. Now, Gary, back to you. You know you’ve probably heard a lot of excuses. You know I just gave you an excuse of I don’t have any time, you know, to do it, but what are some of the myths or excuses that you hear about what people think? Maybe it’s just a conception of how selling in Japan is, or obstacles that really aren’t there. What are some things that maybe you can debunk for those who might be timid to dip their feet into the Japanese waters over there?

Gary:
Yeah, I think one of the biggest ones is language, because obviously Japanese language is very different and you know I don’t really speak Japanese and you know I figured out how to sell in Japan because you really you don’t need to actually know Japanese to sell in Japan. I mean, obviously it helps, but the fact that the number 1 Amazon Seller Central Japan is all in English, so literally, if you know how to sell in the US or Europe, you instantly can sell in Japan. And number 2, in terms of the keyword research obviously we have tools like Helium 10 so sellers can get smart. They’re already familiar with how to do reverse ASIN searches and you know all that good stuff. You can do the same thing in Japan. And number three now we have tools like AI, ChatGPT and the translation feature. I mean, it’s like miles ahead of Google translate, like you know what we’re using just two years ago. So I’m able to use ChatGPT to really get smart and even dissect some of the Japanese competitors listings to extract keywords to better understand that. So I feel like you know that’s one big myth about Japan and I feel at the same time, you know like all of these obstacles. You know, talking about culture, talking about language. You know, I kind of. You know I like that book, The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Like I don’t know if you guys read that book, it’s kind of like a stoicism book. But like these obstacles actually, if you look at it from the flip side, right, a lot of people are intimidated by Japan. But if the fact that you learn how to do this I mean, if you want to come to our conference, we’ll literally guide you through it. You can leave no stone unturned; these obstacles actually become your moat, right, they’re like a barrier against your competition, that they’re intimidated by it. So I feel you know, for the certain seller that is motivated to do this especially, I mean this selling in Japan is really good, for sellers who are already selling in the US or already selling in EU. They have skews, let’s say, with like 700 reviews, 1000 reviews. Why? Because you can actually carry over those reviews from Amazon US to Amazon Japan. So that way when you launch on day one, you don’t launch with zero reviews, you launch with 700 reviews and like the review moat, I mean the review, like the average review is a lot lower, like review score is a lot lower in Japan as well. So I mean,Japan is the fourth biggest market, but it still seems like a lot of people are either too intimidated or, you know, they don’t know about it. So I’m really trying to help sellers, and you know, Nick as well, right, we’re trying to help sellers better, you know, take advantage of this opportunity, even though it’s 2024, you know, like, what Nick said before, you know Japan is the niche, right? I mean, we’re all talking about the riches are in the niches, I mean in Japan, like the best selling thick yoga mats, like I actually did. Like a comparison, in the US, the best selling thick yoga mat has 4.6 stars and has 75,000 reviews, so it’s way too saturated, right? But in Japan, the best selling thick yoga mat only had 3.9 stars and only 370 reviews, right? So you think about it. I mean, which one would you rather compete against, right? The yoga mat with 4.6 stars, 75,000 reviews, or Japan, right? And if you’re already selling the US, if you have a thousand reviews, you can actually carry them over to Japan and then you can be like, you know, the king right from day one. So there’s all of these advantages that sellers can have if they know how to do this. Just sounds in Japan.

Bradley Sutton:
What else that we haven’t talked about yet are people going to be able to learn about at the conference in April?

Gary:
I think something that’s new that we talked about is Rakuten, because everyone knows Amazon, right, but Rakuten, like what Nick said, they’re literally neck and neck with Amazon. So we’re going to bring in a speaker to talk about how to sell on Rakuten and this way we can give the sellers, you know, a balanced perspective, right, Amazon and Rakuten. We didn’t have this last year, so this way we want to give sellers more information, because certain products may sell better on Amazon or on Rakuten, so this way you can have more perspective there. And then we’re also talking about how to get into offline retail in Japan as well, so we’re going to have some content there as well. So I mean, if you’re a seller, if you’re going to make the investment to import your products into Japan, it kind of makes sense to maximize the different options that you have, right? So, beyond Amazon, Rakuten, getting into physical retail stores, and then we’re also going to talk about external marketing strategies. There’s social media, and you know Nick is really good at this, like using Japan social media platforms. eI think this is information You’re not going to get anywhere else and you know we share, like real examples from real sellers. You know what they’re doing, that you can take away, you can imitate. So, yeah, I think these are all great opportunities, and also AI as well. I mean AI is like super prevalent now you know Japan is trying to like push AI a lot as well because you know, with like the labor costs and you know Japan has kind of like fallen behind compared to the rest of the world. Right, but they’re looking to amplify AI. So we’re trying to help sellers use AI to scale your business in Japan, even if you don’t speak the language.

Bradley Sutton:
All right. So again, guys, if you didn’t write down that address, how can you get more information on this conference, h10.me/japan. Nick, maybe any last words about selling Japan that you think foreign sellers need to know about the market, good or bad?


Nick:
So I think one of the main things that people should really understand is that about half of the market in Amazon, Amazon Japan is made up of Chinese sellers. So, although you know we have these kind of podcasts and Gary is explaining to people about the fact that Amazon Japan is a very good marketplace, a lot of people who sell in Europe or the US, they might think about it, they might consider it. The Chinese they know. They know just how good it is because they know there is very little competition, there’s very little branding, so they can ship products out to Japan and sell. They don’t need to have very many reviews. If you are a brand that already has. Sorry. If you are a seller who already has a brand and you’ve already got reviews on your products, all you need to do is list them in Japan. Global review thinking has been a thing for probably about three years now. You can start in Japan with more reviews than all the other sellers combined. You don’t even need to have very many, even if you’ve got 500, that might be more than all the people in the top 50. And so it’s so much easier to launch in a marketplace where your main competition are Chinese, non-face brands. They aren’t even brands, they aren’t even brand registered, whereas you are a brand, you look good, you’ve got the assets, you’ve got the images, you’ve got the videos are more importantly, the most important thing you have the reviews. You are starting with more reviews than anybody else. I mean there isn’t any other way, any other better way to sell. You’ll have cheaper conversions, you’ll have cheaper PPC than everybody else and I think that’s probably the main thing.

Bradley Sutton:
Awesome, all right guys. Well, if you’re convinced already, well, hurry up and sign up for selling in Japan, and you could reach out to Nick and Gary for help from their network or attend in person the event and meet a lot of these people who can help you in person while enjoying the Hawaii of Japan. So I look forward to seeing you guys in Okinawa and month or so now, and it’ll be great to see you there and hope to see some listeners there as well, so look forward to it.


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Director of Training & Chief Evangelist

Bradley is the Director of Training and Chief Evangelist for Helium 10 as well as the host of the most listened to podcast in the world for Amazon sellers, the Serious Sellers Podcast. He has been involved in e-commerce for over 20 years, and before joining Helium 10, launched over 400 products as a consultant for Amazon Sellers.

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