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Launching in Japan

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Nick Katz comes in to chat about launching in Japan. Nick got into Japan in 1995 and has been in Retail since the end of the 1990’s. Selling mainly in Japan, UK and Germany on Amazon.

Identifying and Sourcing a Product

  • Biggest hurdle for people with japan
  • Choosing the right porduct
  • 3rd Largest Market behind USA and Germany
  • Look at the size of the category before going in (20-30 in USA may translate to 1-2 in Japan)


  • Amachete is a JungleScout type overly on your screen showing you info on product sales and BSR
  • There are just whole categories that won’t sell in Japan
  • Garlic Presses and Spatulas are the kind of products that the Japanese market will support – not what you think
  • Well known products and interesting products do fairly well – more ubiquitous products – things you see around you every day
  • A very different mindset than USA is needed for launching in Japan


  • Keep things concise and not hard to read when launching in Japan
  • Style of writing is similar to Germany – no fluff and fun just informative
  • This is good for Japan listing
  • Writing good copy is not an easy thing even for native speakers
  • Get keywords in the title and bullets
  • Put a listing up and iterate on it

Enhanced Brand Content

  • A plus is what it’s called in Japan – a bit different to A plus in the USA
  • EBC has always been there in Japan
  • Jury is out on how useful it is
  • You should be using it anyway
  • Use your foreignness to your advantage
  • US or UK brand then make sure people understand it – a competitive advantage
  • Put your photos in there and with brand registry use storefront


  • Japanese don’t leave reviews
  • Email sequences are not effective
  • If they like a product they will leave reviews
  • You don’t need a lot of reviews to compete – 10 is terrific, 1-2 is okay
  • Type of product is important – functional products less likely
  • Garlic press in US might have 3,000 reviews but in Japan it would be 65 reviews

Storage and FBA

  • Japan has the highest storage fees of all the markets Nick is in
  • Fees are high and are going up again
  • Try and use a Just in Time system with your own warehouse
  • Not expensive to ship into Amazon itself
  • A company called Jwire – Takiomi is the contact Danny used in Japan
  • Use a 3rd Party
  • Sending a product into Japan you have to have an importer of record for customs to contact
  • Amazon will not be you importer of record and if you don’t arrange it they will send your product away
  • Costs about $50 for this importer of record
  • Optimize by not using a shipping agent on the Japanese side but in China and just use Japan for clearance
  • Can be costly if you’re not careful
  • Quantity shipping – use a company that has experience of sending to Japan, not all freight forwarders have
  • There are not many Chinese companies that are on the ground in Japan for clearing
  • Costs from the Port to Amazon is very costly
  • China to Japan is 7 days by Sea! Very quick

Chinese in the Market

  • There area lot of Chinese competitors in the Japan market as it’s so close
  • Premium products work quite well as a differentiator
  • Japanese like good high quality but not too expensive – show a lot of value
  • A decent product at a fair price

PPC and Marketing

  • Danny had just one keyword that worked for his product in Japan
  • It was $6-7 / click
  • No top ad slots for this main keyword
  • Danny did Facebook ads, a landing page and a coupon server to promote
  • Got into AMS but then kicked out as the paperwork wasn’t right
  • Nick uses headline ads

Consumption Tax

  • Nick has a Japanese company which is different to a Foreign Seller
  • If over $500k
  • Like UK VAT – it is 8% in Japan
  • Tax on Seller central and PPC fees
  • If your address is not in Japan then you don’t get the 8% included
  • VAT on your sales – you don’t pay on the 1st two years – you start paying in the 3rd year in arrears (so your year 1 VAT is paid in year 3)
  • You don’t pay until you’re at $100k USD sales
  • It’s a grey area
  • Corporation tax is 33%

Customer Service

  • Get a lot less customer contact from buyers in Japan
  • Native language customer service is a requirement
  • Either get a VA paid hourly or maybe Google Translate if on a budget
  • Pay a flat fee per month (circa $50) to Takiomi’s company
  • Or you can do $10 per response if you don’t get many queries


  • Select a ubiquitous product
  • Use Amachete to check viability
  • Translation – technical and cultural
  • Include enhanced brand content as it is free
  • Leverage your brand
  • Being foreign is a good thing
  • 7 days via sea from china
  • Don’t store in FBA – use a prep centre
  • Understand your shipping costs
  • Optimise – make trucking cost cheaper by being close to the warehouse



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