Japan - Selling and buying
Reaching the consumers
Customer service is an important element in a sale: extra technical explanations, keeping to delivery dates, etc.
The quality of the service rendered will depend on the way linguistic barriers have been raised and the way in which sales techniques have been adapted to the local population.
Traditionally, Japan’s consumers are rich, sophisticated and highly diverse in their interests and tastes, going from traditional needs to westernized desires. They value home comfort. They like goods to be meticulously presented, and to have exquisite packaging and very detailed instructions for use. Tough economic times have made price an increasingly important consideration for Japanese consumers.
1. Protection standards and recourse to a system of licenses and permits impose heavy restrictions on the free development of stores. In particular, the setting up of hypermarkets is controlled by the Large-Scale Retail Store Location Law of 2000 and regulated by local authorities on the basis of environmental considerations.
2. The deflationist trend of the macroeconomic situation has eroded the margins of middle-men.
3. Information technology allows producers to be informed rapidly of fashion effects and the evolution of consumer tastes. To react quickly to changes in consumer trends, producers tend to develop internet sales platforms.
To learn about current trends in the Japanese retail trade, consult the Einnews.com website.
Supermarkets are in second position with a market share of sales of 30% although they only represent 9% of stores. Nevertheless, sales made by supermarkets have shown a negative rate of growth over the last few years.
The well-known foreign names are present on the Japanese market: Tesco, Metro, Toys’R’Us, etc. But the Japanese do not easily accept foreign sales techniques. Carrefour paid for this and decided to withdraw from the Japanese market after having set up 8 stores.
Unlike supermarkets, small stores are doing well. The number of convenience stores, especially, is increasing, with a constantly growing volume of sales.
For further statistical information about the sector, consult the METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) website.
Market access procedures
Japan signed in March 2011 a Tariff-Cutting Trade Treaty with India that will eliminate or reduce about 94% of tariffs on the countries’ bilateral trade over a ten-year period. Also, an agreement between Japan and the Republic of Peru was reached in May 2011. Bilateral agreements with Australia, the European Union, and the Republic of Korea are currently being negotiated.
Quotas exist for certain marine products, certain organic chemical products, explosives, certain pharmaceutical and medical products, certain animals and plants in respect of the Washington Convention.
An import license is necessary for products subject to quotas, dangerous products and perishable goods.
Some goods are prohibited from importation.
The WTO gives a sheet summarizing the Customs tariffs of the country.
As a reminder :
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, generally referred to as "Harmonized System" or simply "HS", developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), comprises nearly 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a six digit code. The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for
The Customs Counselor System assists companies with import procedures.
Organizing goods transport
Ports are the mainstay for 99% of Japan's foreign trade and 42% of its domestic distribution. Tokyo Bay (six harbors, including Yokohama and Tokyo), Osaka Bay (five harbors including Kobe and Osaka) and Ise Bay (five harbors including Nagoya) are known as the Three Major Bays. These bays handle approximately 35% of all port cargo in Japan. Japanese ports handle more than 3,090 thousand tons per year.
The total amount of international freight handled at airports in Japan is more than 3,100 thousand tons per year. Japanese Airlines carried approximately one third of the total amount of international freight.
Domestic business directories
- Japan Manufacturers Automotives Associations
- Japan Electronics and Information Technology industries Association
- Japan Electrical %anufacturers Association
- Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers Association
- Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations
- Japan Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association