Business / Companies

Version of Amazon's Japan website takes fight to Alibaba

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-15 11:08

Version of Amazon's Japan website takes fight to Alibaba

A couple wait in a queue to pay for some made-in-Japan baby diapers during a Japanese commodities fair in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. LV BING/CHINA DAILY

Just before the stores open in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district, buses pull up, unleashing Chinese tourists and their credit cards to snap up televisions, rice cookers and other gadgets. Walk into any department store and there they are, buying mascara, T-shirts and other merchandise.

China's infatuation with Japanese products is now discovering a new source of satisfaction: the internet. And is responding.

On June 30, the web retailer quietly rolled out a Chinese-language version of its shopping site in Japan, along with new, reduced shipping rates to mainland homes and businesses. It's another example of how Inc is evolving in Asia to open up new streams of revenue and make up for the lack of a bigger presence in China, where Alibaba Group Holding Ltd dominates.

Underscoring that potential, e-commerce demand from China to Japan is projected to almost triple to 2.34 trillion yen ($22.5 billion) in 2019, according to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"The opportunity is huge," said Jasper Cheung, president of Amazon Japan. "We have already increased the selection that we can export by the millions over the last several weeks."

Chinese shoppers are looking for authentic Made-in-Japan products, spooked by tainted baby milk and fake merchandise proffered on web stores in China. While that's helping to drive an influx of shoppers to Japan-3.08 million Chinese tourists have visited the archipelago so far this year, up 41 percent-it's also boosting demand for, Wandou and other web outlets featuring Japanese goods.

Rakuten Inc, the Japanese online store, also lets people shop for stuff from Japan in Chinese, as well as in Korean and English. Amazon's Japan website has been available in English for years.

The new iteration of Amazon Japan's shopping portal, in simplified Chinese, offers millions of products with more coming, the company said. Consumers in Asia's biggest economy are demanding access to authentic brands and quality, from clothing and cosmetics to baby products and health goods.

That's why Costco Wholesale Corp has a shop on Alibaba's, while Macy's Inc and other US retailers are tapping into China's dominant online-payments system by accepting Alipay on their sites.

"Things in Japan are well made and of high quality, and the packages are cute," said Qian Jing, 31, an employee of an entertainment company in Wuhan who has bought comic books, Pilot pens and tea from Amazon Japan.

Most shipping rates to China from Japan are 500 to 600 yen, about a third less than it costs to transport similar items to Australia, according to the website. Regular delivery takes two to 18 days.

"We used to have only one option for shipping to China, and we added a lower shipping cost to China as well," Cheung said.

Amazon also operates an online store in China, featuring local products, and even opened a shop on last year to reach more Chinese shoppers.

"The Chinese version of the Amazon website makes shopping much easier," Qian said. "It was hard for people who don't understand Japanese."

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks