How to Meet Customers’ Needs When Shipping in Japan

The B2C e-commerce market represents a growing part of the total annual sales in Japan. Its two biggest platforms, Rakuten and Amazon, have a total annual sales estimated respectively at JPY 3.43 trillion (USD 31.7 billion) and JPY 2.75 trillion in 2019 (USD 25.42 billion). They offer amazing services, so consumers in Japan have high expectations concerning shipping or customer support. After we saw what the best methods of payment were in Japan, let’s focus on what you can do to improve your shipping service.

What Customers Expect

In Japan, customers expect a very fast delivery service. Usually, when they order on Amazon or Rakuten, they receive their parcel the day or a few days after. Of course, you cannot deliver as fast as Japanese companies do, but inform your customers that your product comes from overseas and will not be delivered in one or two days.

Besides, check out our article about methods of payment and Japanese customer service to meet the maximum of their wants, needs and expectations. Remember that perfection is in the details (even though shipping, payment and customer service should not be considered as details)!

The Main Parcel Delivery Companies

Home delivery market share in Japan. Source: FlagShipBlog, Medium (2017).


Yamato Transport

Its logo is known by everyone in Japan: a cat carrying her kitten, symbolizing the care employees give when delivering. Yamato Transport has more than 200,000 employees and owns 46.7% of the Japanese market share. They can also pack, store and plan everything, from distribution to delivery. 

Sagawa Express

In the second position, but who is not outdone, Sagawa Express offers several services, like home delivery and logistics consulting. You can choose between their Standard, Support or Solution offers. They also work for major companies like Amazon.

Japan Post

When Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express had to cut back on some services because of the increasing number of customers, Japan Post took over some of them. They offer a basic postal service coupled with insurance and bank services. They are looking for customers’ satisfaction locally and nationally, want their trust and respect before all. The “Yu-pack” has also become popular, which includes several optional services such as Cash on Delivery.

Items You Cannot Ship Without a Special License

Here is a list of restricted items, according to Japan FedEx

    • “Alcohol
    • Certain textiles
    • Chemical substances (including Fertilizers)
    • Chemicals
    • Compressed gases and their containers
    • Cosmetics and other products that are used on the human body (hair tonics, bath preparations, etc.)
    • Cutlery, cookware, containers, dishes, etc. used for food, beverages, or for food preparation
    • Dairy Products
    • Drugs and medicines and other products such as eye drops, toothpaste, vitamins, etc. that have an effect on humans or animals
    • Explosives
    • Fertilizer
    • Food, Food additives
    • Goods that may interface with the Japan’s [sic] public infrastructure (roads, radio frequencies, telephone or power lines, etc.) can clear customs without special documents or prior approval but the end-user or reseller must obtain approval from the responsible government agency before the goods can be used in Japan. Examples of these goods include motor vehicles, electric & telecommunication equipment, radios, telephones, and modems.
    • High pressure Gas
    • Meat and meat products
    • Medical Equipment
    • Medicine
    • Plants and plant products
    • Radioactive Isotopes
    • Rice, wheat and their products
    • Sugar
    • Textiles
    • Toys for babies
    • Tuna, Whale, Seaweed” 

For those items, you will need a license. Note that more or fewer products can be restricted depending on the platform you sell your product on, for example, or that the list can change over the years. Contact your partner/distributor in Japan for more information. 

Certifications You Need to Have

You should check that your product is conforming to the Japanese legislation if you want to enter the market. 

To sell your product on Gloture’s e-commerce website, you need a certification for the following items:

For further information, check out JQA’s list about the Testing and Certification of Electrical Equipment, Components, and Medical Devices.

Besides, Gloture cannot sell medical equipment or other medical items since we do not have the required permit. 

Whether you need a strategy or assistance with your new innovative product, we provide value for your new product launch in the Japanese Market. We offer Crowdfunding Support and Digital Marketing Services, all under one roof. You can contact us here.