Japanese consumers love to shop online and prefer to use apps on smartphones to make
purchases, with Japan leading the world in mobile transactions. In the past year this tendency has strengthened further, with customers shopping more while commuting, offering a clear time window for promotions.
The latest research from Criteo shows that Japan is rapidly moving towards apps as the main interface with customers online. Two years ago various sources pointed out how companies were not keeping up with the customer shift to mobile shopping, despite Criteo figures showing 50% of online purchases were made by phone.
In the latest survey, for the first quarter of the year 2017 to 2018, mobile devices accounted for 55% of all EC transactions, up 4 points on the year. Transactions through smartphones increased 9%, and tablets 3%, but purchases by PC were down 9%.
The latest report from METI estimated that 35% of all online purchases were made through smartphones last year, even though major players such as Rakuten claim figures of 68% and fashion retailer Zozotown 80%.
Criteo suggests that METI estimates are low. It shows 69% of fashion and luxury purchases online were made from mobiles, with 63% for health and beauty products, general goods 57%, household 56% and sporting goods 42%.
Of purchases made on mobile devices, 66% were made through dedicated apps for APAC countries as a whole, a major change over two years ago. This compares to 44% globally.
As the data above clearly shows, Japan’s commuter culture supports the growth in mobile shopping. Sales through mobile devices are at their highest from 6am to 8am, dropping down during the day, before rising again after 8pm.
In contrast, more shopping is done on PCs than on mobile devices between 8am and 8pm. Japan also shows a strong skew towards shopping online from Friday evening through Sunday, with smartphones the primary devices used on Fridays and Saturdays, but tablets used more on Sundays – the former probably when out and about showrooming, and the latter perhaps easier to use when lying on a sofa.
The use of the smartphone as Japanese consumers’ shopping device of choice has been clear for a couple of years and retailers and brands have been scrambling to catch up with customer preferences.
The dominance of the major online malls means that many brands still don’t bother to have their own shopping app available, and there is still a lot more that individual companies could do to promote and support customers in online shopping.
Michael Causton is the co-founder and partner at JapanConsuming, a specialist research firm on Japanese retail and consumer markets. Founded in 2000, JapanConsuming has become the leading provider of insights on Japanese retailers and consumer trends to retailers, brands, government agencies and investors. As well as a highly regarded monthly report on the market to help subscribers keep up to date with the latest trends and data. JapanConsuming produces in-depth reports on retail sectors, seminars on key trends and consulting on market strategies and future trends.
(Source: Japan Consuming)