MBA Professor dumbfounded by how brands can now successfully enter Japan (via Amazon)

His thinking was the OLD way of doing business but the NEW way of doing business is through Amazon FBA

Recently I had a conversation with a long time MBA professor friend of mine.

Though he is very well versed in the MBA world and the OLD way of doing business, he knew little about the NEW way of doing business via the Amazon FBA entrepreneurial opportunity.  

This professor spent years living, working, and doing research in Japan and China from the 2000s through today and shall remain nameless.  

I asked him how foreign brands did market research on Japan before deciding to enter this marketplace.

He said “the history of foreign companies trying to do business in Japan is long and the roadside is littered with failures.” 

But he didn’t know much about the Amazon FBA opportunity in Japan.

In or short conversation, I learned that these unsuccessful companies tried to enter Japan but they failed because of 4 main factors:

1) “Not understanding the Japanese consumer who have some specific and unusual traits”

He added that these unsuccessful companies “ didn’t have a Japanese person who was an advisor (or) representative. Somebody who has played a leading role in decision making about what to sell”

2) Underestimating Japanese fulfilment and logistics challenges

They weren’t able to access the Japanese marketplace channels and didn’t have good distribution. 

They struggled with finding storage and fulfillment problems.  

As well as handling returns and customer service.

3) Fierce competition from established players in Japan

He cited strong threats from local Japanese established players as well. 

4) Difficulty building trust as a foreign brand

Japanese consumers usually are wary of foreign brands especially in terms of customer service and cultural misalignment.

My reaction? 

His thinking was the OLD way of doing business but the NEW way of doing business is through Amazon FBA.  

Selling through Amazon Japan FBA actually solves 90% of those problems.

1) Amazon can help you understand the Japanese consumer

Amazon offers internal research tools such as Brand Analytics and business reports which will reveal data on keyword search trends on a monthly and quarterly basis.  This can help you forecast demand levels for your products in Japan.

And you can even analyze competitors’ products (ASINs) that can help you understand which types of similar products the Japanese customer prefers so you can better deduce how your product will sell in Japan.

You can also gauge product market fit by simply going on and searching for your keyword in English to see if similar results appear.  

In addition there are a host of 3rd party research tools that can help you gain intelligence through keyword research and product research on Amazon Japan.  

This way sellers can better understand the keyword search volume, demand, and competition that was not possible using the OLD WAY of selling into Japan.

However it is still important and extremely beneficial to have a local Japanese native speaker help you with the localization process as in the traditional business sense.

And this can be hired out.  

2) Japan storage, fulfillment, logistics, and customer service.

These are four of Amazon’s STRENGTHS and they have successfully transferred them to Japan.

The Amazon FBA model is best in the world at storage and fast and low cost fulfillment.

Even local players like Bic Camera, Yodobashi, and Yamada cannot beat Amazon’s fast and free delivery in Japan.

Local players take 5-6 business days for delivery (and they charge shipping) while Amazon Prime offers same day and overnight delivery for FREE across Japan.

A foreign brand can quickly ship their product into Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Japan at very minimal inventory investment and low cost. 

We’re talking the cost of your initial test order shipped into Japan and a $40 monthly investment in Amazon’s Professional selling subscription to start selling.

Amazon also handles customer returns and most customer service inquiries as well!

3) Amazon has localized in Japan and became the #1 online shopping platform

Amazon has surpassed Rakuten as Japan’s #1 leading ecommerce platform.  

By selling your brand on Amazon you are piggybacking on the most popular ecommerce player in Japan and you will instantly gain the advantage that foreign brands dreamed about in the 90s and 2000’s.

As of 2024, Amazon is the #1 ecommerce platform in Japan to a population of 126 million people, 73% of them routinely shop online.

Amazon delivery vans are everywhere in Japan.

Amazon’s delivery lockers are everywhere in Japan.  

Japanese routinely turn to Amazon for their purchases.  

4) Leverage the Japanese consumer’s trust in Amazon.

Customers trust the Amazon brand and are comfortable making purchases on this platform and enjoy fast and often free prime delivery to their homes. 

Even in the most remote regions across Japan from northern Hokkaido to southernmost islands of Okinawa.  

They also gain trust in products when seeing the reviews on Amazon. 

And they know that deliveries will arrive on schedule and customer service and returns are guaranteed.  

Amazon has truly Japanified its brand.

For such a low investment we’re just talking about one shipment, you can literally enter the Japanese market and start selling in months not years.

The MBA professor was dumbfounded by that because his thinking was the old way based in the 90s and 2000s.

But we’re in 2024 and brands can totally accelerate market entry into Japan through Amazon FBA.

This option was not available even 10 years ago but it is available now by leveraging the access and trust that Amazon Japan offers.

If you want to scale your Amazon business in 2024, one of the best ways is to expand into a new marketplace like Amazon Japan.

There are bridges to cross such as 

  • Product Market Fit Analysis
  • Localization
  • Import and compliance
  • Shipping and logistics into Japan
  • Marketing Optimization 
  • Driving External traffic and building a list

And these are the types of questions that we will answer in depth at the 7 Figure Seller Japan Mastermind in Okinawa from Apr 8-10, 2024.

This event is for you if you are a 6, 7, or 8 figure Amazon seller already selling in the US or European marketplaces and want to add an additional $300k-965k in revenue in 2024.

We will have 3 full days of trainings, panel discussions, and over the shoulder coaching for your business. 

At the end of the event, you will know exactly the next steps to take for your business to sell into Amazon Japan.

But don’t delay because we have a limited time discount on tickets that expires Mar 15th!  


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