Launching in Amazon Japan with John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce -
Launching in Amazon Japan with John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce

Launching in Amazon Japan 

Expanding internationally -what’s the process?

Are you looking into expanding and launching in Amazon Japan? Know the differences, the similarities, and the pitfalls when exploring the Japanese market.

The process is just the same 

  • Do research before you start, same as do it for Japan. 
  • Keep eyes open 
  • Try to offset risk before starting. 

Market Research

Definitely start with market research before you start sending inventory.

Most of the usual research tools don’t work well there

You have to do the research manually really when you are launching in Amazon Japan. JS etc. doesn’t work there. 

Amazon research – (answering Q is there a market for your product?) 

Sometimes there’s an inconclusive answer from research

  • If not many people buying a product, what does that tell you? 

Research can’t give you the answer in the end – you have to be prepared to take a risk. 

DIY research Process?

Look at your product

Work out best search term

Translate into Japanese Look at 2-3 variations 

Look in category ranking for that listing. 

Brings up category best-sellers list – what kind of products doing well. 

  • See identical/similar products for sale/how to do well. 

Google translate is the key! 

Potential pitfalls would be 

  • Can display the content of listing in English
  • But that’s reliant on the seller putting fields in English 
    • It’s not actually a translation
  • So it might not look like there’s any content
  • You’re better off pasting the Japanese product details into Google Translate

What is the basic process for keyword research manually?

Don’t be intimidated by how it looks!

Google translate for research is actually quite good. 

Don’t do big long sentences – target individual words when launching in Amazon Japan.

Look for product main keyword search term – type that into Amazon.jp – get a feel for what’s going on. 

How would you make a decision to go into this area or not?

Check reviews, images

Check the review stars. 

Check the images. 

Content – size of description, bullet points. 

A lot of listings in Japan have enhanced content – didn’t use to have to be registered to get that. 

What are the similarities between  Amazon Japan and Amazon UK or USA?

Fulfilment side works exactly the same.

PPC pretty much same. 

All similar – interface is similar – can use English

What are the differences between Amazon Japan and Amazon UK? 

Japan Amazon is just oversize of UK Amazon but the population is double

Also, Japan Amazon has just 20% of the e-commerce market. That has increased from just 12% a few years ago. So Amazon’s market share of e-commerce in Japan is growing fast.  

It’s easier to get to the top of the markets when the market is smaller – so now is a great time to get selling in Amazon Japan. 

John’s Background and Foundation of Rising Sun Commerce

In 2005 John lived in London and worked as a programmer. He met a Japanese girl who wanted to move back to Japan. 

He went to Japan for 5 years and married the girl!

Moved back to the UK in 2010. Met business partner Neil, who runs a PL brand, who wanted to grow his business. He was interested in Japan. 

They teamed up and sent a batch of his products to Japan. They went well. 

They thought other businesses would have a similar need so they created an agency about 2 years ago. 

Cultural differences? (Products? Marketing?)

Japan is in some ways technologically advanced but in other ways not. 

Had to fax timesheet in 2010. 

But very fast trains. 

In 2005 had tv and internet on phone. 

Ecommerce differences

Most people overthink it!

The one difference is that Q4 is not as big as in the USA, Europe. 

Christmas related products are not really a thing. 

Also, Japanese consumers like high-quality products. It’s quite a high population density, especially big cities, so they tend to buy quality products rather quantity. 

Income levels of consumers 

Not as extreme levels of wealth and poverty as the USA or UK – the general audience is not for the really high or low end. 

Product differences? 

They are quite subtle  – if a product sells well in .com or .co.uk, they often sell well. People often over-estimate the complexity. 

What are the details of the differences?

It’s product-specific. 

Fashion offering on Amazon is more basic in Amazon Japan. 

But Japanese consumers are very into international fashion. 

The search volume on Amazon for clothing and fashion is however not high – you could do a blend of marketing off Amazon and use Amazon Japan for fulfilment. 

FBA in Japan

It’s almost identical to the USA or UK. The storage fees are higher compared to Europe and USA – throughout the year they are about same as Q4 in the UK. 

It’s the same for everyone who is selling FBA – just build into pricing when launching in Amazon Japan. 

Clothing

Clothes are one area of difference. International clothing brands including UK ones do well. 

But from a sizing point of view, it’s a bit of a risk to launch with a poor size range. That could lead to lots of returns. You need smaller sizes for Japanese consumers. 

Compliance

When do you have to think about this? 

Certain categories often require this:

Food-related, kitchenware

Cosmetics 

Toys

Medical 

Electrical products

Would CE (EU legislations) or American standards be enough? Or do you need different testing?

Japan operates to different testing standards. Needs to be specific. It’s not more stringent than Europe or USA. 

Fundamentally it’s the same. 

How expensive is that? 

For medical products, getting into The £5000-10,000 ($7-13K) 

For some kitchenware, £1-2000 

For food-related £1000-2000

How do you deal with that?

John’s team will make a link to existing companies. 

Are most categories outside of testing?

Yes – most products don’t have big documentation needed.  

What other categories are difficult in Amazon Japan?

Supplements – notoriously hard to get compliance work done. 

John gets quite a few enquiries from supplement brands, but not got one to launch yet. 

It’s growing in Japan but behind the USA. 

Cosmetics can be tricky with the compliance side. 

Toys are interesting 

What categories have you seen greatest success with for your clients?

Homeware  

DIY 

Sports and outdoors

Beauty – but not cosmetics generally because of compliance issues 

 

How do people find out more about your services? 

risingsuncommerce.co.uk/

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  • What are the best sellers doing
  • Are products photos good
  • Listings etc.

Aim: derisk launch on Japan

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Other Amazon International Marketplaces help from John Cant:

Import into Amazon Japan


 

TRANSCRIPT:

Michael Veazey 0:56
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the 10 k collective podcasts the place to be for six, seven and eight figure, Amazon sellers, particularly in the UK at the moment. And we have a Brit with us as the makers, our UK fellow Englishman, john Cantor of rising sun commerce, rising sun helps brands sell successfully on Amazon in Japan. I was just joking with john that, if you are from California will be helping you crush it awesomely. But think British we’re going to keep it more low key. So, john, welcome to the show.

John Cant 1:23
Hi, Michael, how you doing?

Michael Veazey 1:24
I’m good. Thanks. Yes. Thank you very much. Where are you coming to us from today?

John Cant 1:29
So I’m in the UK at the moment. I’m in whole in East Yorkshire.

Michael Veazey 1:34
Excellent. Nice to have a bit of Yorkshire home to us. Straight talking if I remember, I studied there many years ago. So mostly in Japan. It’s a very big topic every so often. But to me, it seems like a really, really underused opportunity. So glad you could come and help us with because I honestly think there’s a hell of a lot of money to be made for existing sellers. without too much trouble is my understanding of it. But let’s let’s go through that, first of all, what is the process of expanding internationally from the sort of 50,000 foot view? So I mean, the when, when you

John Cant 2:06
as a seller, if you’re trying to expand overseas, I think before you jump in the doing a bit of research, market research is definitely the the place to start. You don’t want to, you know, send a load of inventory to a new country and then find out there’s no market when it’s already too late. And it’s better to have a look at what’s going on before you launch and do your homework, I guess.

Michael Veazey 2:31
Yeah, that makes total sense in most places. Now, my understanding of the Amazon Japan market, though, is that most of the usual research tools don’t actually work very well there. I mean, is that still true? more out of date with that?

John Cant 2:42
Yeah, no, that’s true. You sort of Jungle Scout type things and helium 10, that they don’t really cover Japan very well. So you kind of rewinding the clock to before Jungle Scout existed, if any sellers were and then when kinda got to do the research kind of manually? Really, there’s no, there’s no quick solution, like, with Jungle Scout these days. So, yeah, I mean, we’ve got our own sort of internal systems of how we estimate your sales. But because the data is not readily available, it’s it’s, you know, it’s quite take it with a pinch of salt, you know, we do, but we you know, it’s better than nothing we can, we can look at and get a reasonable overview of what’s going on. And we’re getting better at it, the more we do it as well. So great. So you

Michael Veazey 3:32
guys offer that as a service, which, which makes a lot of sense. And I think for anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese know that you speak Japanese, you’ve lived there, your wife’s Japanese, so you’re deep in that culture. So for most of us, that isn’t going to be an option. So what what is the way if you have to do it as a non native or as a non Japanese speaker? What is the basic process for doing the manual product research in Japan,

John Cant 3:52
I’d say there’s two things to consider. One is, don’t get intimidated by how it looks. Obviously, you know, Japanese is a completely different language to, you know, the Roman alphabet. And it does look like it’s hard work. But at the end of the day, it’s just characters on paper. And second, Google Translate for doing research is actually quite good. When it’s doesn’t work very well, if you translate in big long sentences. But in terms of individual words, then it does a pretty reasonable job. So if you’re selling, you know, whatever your products main keyword search term is, if you type that into Google Translate, you should get something reasonable back and then be able to type that into Amazon, Japan and get get a feel for what was going on, you know, what type of similar products are selling? Okay,

Michael Veazey 4:46
that makes sense. And what’s the next step after that.

John Cant 4:49
And so after that, if you’re kind of going about doing the research, you sell food, you can get a feel for how well they’re selling, you know, they have lots of reviews, the reviews, any good you can look at the images, to see it, you know, your images are international, so that you can get a feel for if they’re that good quality or not. And just by looking. And then from a content perspective, you can see that the size of the description, you can see if the sellers are bothering to put any effort in, or if that might be an opportunity to improve on what’s there, in terms of sort of the size of the content, but bullet points and description. And a lot of listings in Japan have enhanced content, or a plus content, whatever you call it. And historically, brand, you didn’t need to be brand registered to be able to have the A plus content. So a lot of listings do tend to have that. So you can see a lot of, you know, decent quality listings with lots of images on Amazon, Japan.

Michael Veazey 5:56
OK, so the competition levels reasonably high. And people still treated as an add on. I just remind people, again, that is bigger than Amazon, UK, and it’s pretty similar size, but it’s the third biggest marketplace. So yeah, it’s quite developed, I’d expect there to be a level of competition as in seeing what you’re saying about I suppose what we probably call in UK, USA enhance brand content, and maybe a plastic baby, whatever, in Japan, but so there is a certain level of competition, what do we need to be looking at in order to? Well, I suppose make a decision, I’m and I’m assuming for a lot of people, for most people that Japan is going to be a second or third marketplace a lot into after UK or USA or possibly Germany or somewhere like that. So what what sort of criteria would you apply? When you’re assessing it? You’ve looked at the keyword research, you looked at the reviews, images, enhanced brand content, or a plus content? What sort of criteria would you use to say, yes, this looks like an opportunity, or no, this is going to be too competitive for us.

John Cant 6:52
And so when when we do the sort of market research for clients, we would say that, you know, there are various factors is that we take into account, it’s kind of the number of reviews review rating, and we’ve got like a data model in the background, which as I was saying is kind of loose, but we can use it to get an idea of sales. So looking at the best seller rank of a particular product. And in that, you know, in that sort of high level category, you can get a feel for how many it’s selling per month. So you know that, you know, is it selling, you know, one or two a day? Or is it selling 10 a day? Or is it selling 100 a day kind of thing you can get, you can get a feel for for that type of, you know, sales level is not, it’s not going to give you you know, this is selling 37.3 per day or something like that, right here it but but you can get an A, you know, you can get a feel for demand for the products. And also, you know, as you as you mentioned in what the competition is. So, if, if there’s lots of similar products, then they’ve you know, they’ve all got fives, hundreds of five star ratings, the demand is mediocre, then yeah, it probably doesn’t make sense to, to kind of launch but, you know, obviously the opposite of that. If you think that there’s listing, which doesn’t look particularly good, but demand seems to be quite high, then, you know, you take that as an opportunity and, and test the market and yeah, get stuck in.

Michael Veazey 8:22
Yeah, sounds good. And I think what I quite like about this is like really like about it, whenever I find it as somewhat moderate barrier to entry, I’m really happy. And you know, when working with mentoring clients, they often aren’t that happy. And by say, look, the fact for example, that Jungle Scout and helium 10. But effort that everyone puts too much faith in, I’m not saying they’re not useful tools, by the way they have their place, they definitely do. But if you put too much faith in a machine and turn your brain off, particularly when it comes to allowing your intuition to kick in or to to educate your intuition. If you’re new, then I think you’re getting over a lot and the wrong thing anyway. So I think the other thing is that a lot of people just will give up at that point, which is because it seems the heard it means your competition is just going to be less from outside of Amazon sellers. So yeah,

John Cant 9:06
it’s really good. I agree. Yeah. I mean, people, people I’ve spoken to have said, you know, what do you mean, there’s no Jungle Scout? How can I find a product to sell? And it’s like, well, use your brain? Use you come up with some ideas, and you know, do his things can’t be handed to you on a plate? You know, I know they are sometimes but you know, you need to do the work. And I agree. If there’s barriers to entry that stops the people entering the market, then yeah, that’s good, because it means there’s, there’s less competition. Absolutely. I’m

Michael Veazey 9:39
given that on Amazon demand is normally pretty good. Unless you’re looking at a really small marketplace like Spain, for example, in you in Europe, I mean, yes, a few people make some good sales there. But not many where if you’re looking at substantial demand marketplace like Japan, which is as I said, the size of Amazon, UK, so it’s going to be what 10 $11 billion a year or something like that, but it’s substantial. So the main thing is not actually demand is competition in most markets, right? You might find very obscure, but so having the inability to use Jungle Scout is is great no point out to people as well as Jungle Scout is not something it’s going to give you close to the edge. It’s a wonderful tool, but it’s a kind of entry level activity if you’re in the US, UK, Germany, because the Chinese sellers use it and the Chinese factories will be you know, there are 4050 factors. I was talking to Kevin King the other day who probably have several 10s of thousands of employees between them and dominate Amazon from the Chinese perspective and therefore dominate Amazon full stop when they launch crazy terms of skews. So if if using Jungle Scout, so they so and they’re seeing the same opportunities. So I really think I can’t stress enough how great it is that Jungle Scout doesn’t really work in Japan, and there’s nothing against that tool, or Greg, he’s a great guy. But I just think it’s brilliant. And also the idea. The other thing that I would point out is that the false accuracy sorry, john, I’m just being on a soapbox here. But I just think it’s so critical to understand the idea that you have this accuracy from helium 10, Jungle Scout via launch, they’re all good tools. But none of them have to sort of get to tap Amazon source since December last year that got cut off. So they’re all working on old data. So none of them are hundred percent accurate anyway, so thinking you’re 100% accurate and making really precision bland, but on the basis of that I think is more dangerous than knowing that what you’re doing is just an estimate, but you can say, yeah, it’s between one and three a day or it’s 10 to 15 a day, I think it’s actually more honest, you know, so I think it’s there’s a lot in favor of this, I really having to go back to basics, I think is a really good thing. But anyway, I’m I’m banging on about this, but I just think you know, as you were implying, get get over the addiction to the tools and start making your own decisions, I really think is great.

John Cant 11:46
And I don’t know, if you you mentioned about the size of the market earlier, I think you know, is it as you said it’s about the same size as the UK now. But obviously Japan has doubled the population of the UK, it’s 127 million. there’s potential for Amazon, Japan’s grow, I think and, and Amazon’s wave to, you know, get bigger and bigger. So

Michael Veazey 12:09
it’s a very good point. I mean, yeah, thank you for reminding us of that. I mean, the the percentage of the population in, in the UK that shops online, I think is the biggest in the world as a percentage. So the growth potential is going to be lower there. So that’s a very good point, actually. So not only is Japan a little bit bigger than the UK, but yeah, I’d imagine that the potential for it could be much, much bigger in the future as well. Yeah, yeah. If you got any stats on the sort of growth rates of that, I mean, I don’t know anything about those statistics

John Cant 12:36
me say in terms of the market share that Amazon has in Japan, it’s been growing significantly over recent years. And the last data I saw it was about 22%, I think of market share. So 22% of e commerce transactions in Japan are done on Amazon.

Michael Veazey 12:56
Okay. Well, given that it’s closer to half in in America, you could imagine that the trend might well be towards, you know, much higher than that.

John Cant 13:03
Yeah. I mean, it’s been accelerating quickly, sort of, I think seven or eight years ago, it was about 12%. So it’s kind of doubled. So

yeah, it’s, it’s growing, for sure.

Michael Veazey 13:15
Interesting. So that’s, that’s a very, very important point. So you want to be in a great market, all things being equal, if you can get a good toehold in a growth market and stay there and not lose market share to rivals. That’s how people get rich, because that’s where fast growth comes. So that’s, that’s even yet another reason to be there, which I wasn’t really conscious of, say,

John Cant 13:32
the way I think of it as well as easier, you know, if you if you look in a kind of get into the top of the listings, the top of the charts, it’s easier to get there when the market is, you know, smaller than then, you know, it’s harder for people to kick you off as it grows. I think that’s the way I look at it is that even if you know, sales aren’t as high as obviously the US or Germany. Now. If you get to the, you know, top of the rankings while the competition nice low, then you, you can stay there for the long term.

Michael Veazey 14:03
Absolutely. And also, I’d like to point out that the gaps aren’t that huge. I mean, I’m missing us. I’m I think like from 2016. That’s the latest stats I’ve got, which is shameful only to look it up. But it was something that $90 billion, total market revenue, or whatever the technical word is, you know, the amount of money that was massive money, it was changed hands in their actual marketplace, including Amazon and third party sellers. But, you know, Germany was 14 billion UK was 11 billion and and Japan was like 11.5, or something. So it’s not actually that far away. And if Japan grows like Topsy for the next three or four years, it will overtake Germany, I can definitely imagine that happening. I mean, Germany’s population is about 88 million Japan is 120, something million you said. So it’s, it could become actually the second biggest market place. And even if it doesn’t, I mean, as you say, I really think you’re 100%. Right, it’s much easier to grab a piece of the market when the market smaller and then write it the way to the top by staying on top, which is another art, but it’s not easier than getting established in the first place. So yeah, even more reasons to go into it. Thank you. This is a really powerful opportunity, I think then the more I hear about it from you, and the more we discuss it, the more I think, is this really even bigger than I thought so. So john, let’s let’s back pedal a little bit. Give me a little bit about your background. How did you end up being a specialist in I was in Japan, what’s your background in the black men the foundation of rising sun commerce?

John Cant 15:22
Well, I think like a lot of people who start businesses, it’s never a straightforward path. It

Michael Veazey 15:28
hasn’t been for me, that’s for sure.

John Cant 15:30
Exactly. So in 2005, known fact, rewind, a couple of years before that, I was living in London, working as a programmer and met a Japanese girl. And she wanted to go back home to family and hang out in went live, go back and move move back to Japan. So I thought, that sounds interesting. So yeah, I’ll go to Japan for a year. So I went back with her, lived with her for a year, then it turned into five years. And then we got married and stuff. So that’s sort of how I got got into the Japan side of life. And then we moved back to the UK in 2010. And I met my business partner, Neil, he runs a private label brand on Amazon, that he’d been running for a while. And he wanted to grow his business and was looking at new markets. But we got chatting one day, and he knew that I lived in Japan. So you know, Japan could be interesting. So we kind of teamed up and sent a batch of his products to Japan, and it when reasonably well. And then we thought that there’s probably other brands out there, or the businesses that you know, want to sell in Japan too. And that’s kind of how the agency side came about and how we started helping other brands to sell homes in Japan. So we’ve been going for about two years now as an agency. Okay.

Michael Veazey 16:58
So scratchy, it’s just start with, which is always always the good clue of how to create a business and I would say is, again, the same is true of the product. If you know nothing about products in your purely led by the numbers. I know some people who’ve done very well that way. But I think that’s the exception to the rule. I think most of the time, whether it’s a physical product or business, it’s it’s good to know that at least you’ve got one customer, which is yourself. I think that’s always Yes. Yeah, great. Okay, so what would you say then, having lived in Japan for five years are the main sort of cultural differences, as is relevant to e commerce specifically, and in anything else that is relevant to marketing in general.

John Cant 17:36
So the I guess the biggest differences I saw, I mean, Japan is, is an interesting place, because in many ways, it’s very technologically advanced. And then in some ways, it’s kind of a bit backwards in the late really. So for example, when I was living there, even in 2010, I had to fax my time sheet, which is bizarre, but on the other hand, they’ve got like, the most amazing trains in the world. Even in in 2005, when I moved there, everybody had TVs and internet on their phone, you know, long before the iPhone came along. So yeah, is a interesting place in terms of sort of e commerce and from a product point of view. You know, generally speaking, people overthink it, I think that the one difference is q4 is nowhere near as big in Japan as what it is in the US and Europe. They’re not a Christian country. And there’s not the sort of present given culture at Christmas time. So you don’t see that massive upsurge in q4, like you see over here. So and then, obviously, the Christmas related products and you know, not not really a thing either. But other than that, you know, that they like, they like high quality products, there’s quite a high population density. So, you know, especially in the big cities, people don’t have too much space in their apartments. So they tend to buy quality products rather than buying lots of, you know, cheap products. You know, they don’t, they don’t because the damage space, they, they prefer quality, I think,

Michael Veazey 19:15
yeah, that’s good. I mean that, yes, it’s interesting, their relationship with technology, when generally you know that the smallest iPhone, the smallest smartphones normally and then ahead of the curve, but yeah, I like the fact you think Don’t overthink it. So there’s a specific differences. So it’s kind of obvious when you think about it, that you’re not going to do Christmas, but also the fact that they’re like high quality products. It reminds me of Germany, really, which is simply not that crowded the country, but quite a big, wealthy population. And I think the wealthy the population, the more they want quality products. And in the US, Casey goes was showing a conference went to while ago that in Amazon, I think the in the US the average income of the average buyer is somewhere in the below $50,000 a year market. So it’s still mass market geared to the lowest sort of earners. I think one has to sort of tweak that a little bit for Japan and, and Germany, is that been your experience,

John Cant 20:07
the thing about Japan is in, you know, there’s not really extreme levels of wealth or poverty. It’s, you know, it’s fairly even, I’d say, you know, but you know, like Scandinavian countries, you know, it’s not as this you don’t get the extremes. You know, General, the general audience, really, you know, you’re not really catering to really high end, or really low end kind of thing, I think.

Michael Veazey 20:32
Interesting. Yeah. Okay. That’s an interesting point about the society as a whole. And so I guess that the quality thing, and then would you say there is some products that you could cheerfully sell in amazon.com? Which would be risky to selling them in Amazon, Japan, based on the quality level?

John Cant 20:48
Based on the quality low? I mean, yes, perhaps. But everybody likes a bargain as well that you know, when they see the price, so, yes, and no, I think I think I’d spin it the other way, in that if you’ve got a high quality product, don’t be afraid to go for it in Japan kind of thing, because people are willing to pay for quality.

Michael Veazey 21:12
Okay, that’s a nice way of putting it actually, I do think that erring on the side of quality these days is wise, because you got more compliance. For example, you have to get GS one barcodes these days, if you don’t want to risk account suspension, or at the very least product suspension. And that’s just another you know, whatever hundred and something pounds a year, it’s not a lot hundred and 50 bucks, maybe it’s a bit more including VAT, but but it’s just an example of there’s quite a lot more overheads now that you have to have, which before, obviously, you have to have product liability insurance. So with that situation, I just think you want to be getting some more, not just the gross margin percentage, but in absolute terms per sale, you want to be getting a reasonable chunk of cash, I think so. I think that ties in with where we need to go plus the markets growing up and maturing in all the marketplaces and low quality stuff just won’t sell very well. So I just think it’s wise to err on the side of quality, which again, sounds like it ties in with Japan quite nicely. So are there any differences in the type of product that you can sell in Japan? Or is it support is similar to the US or UK or anywhere like that?

John Cant 22:16
Yeah, no, it’s a generally speaking, it’s broadly similar, really, let’s say for the fashion products and maybe less developed than more basic on Amazon, Japan, and then we see over here in Europe in the US. Now that’s not to say, you know, for fashion in Japan is very big industry. It’s just that they’re not, we’re not really seeing, you know, the the types of diversity of clothes on Amazon at the moment, but I’m sure that might change in the future.

Michael Veazey 22:46
Yeah. So it sounds like I mean, fashion is a big thing in Japan, as I understand it, I remember that a couple of Japanese fans that I knew, musically said that. In Tokyo, people will spend crazy amounts of money on things like Louis retail handbags, apparently, there’s the fastest band in Tokyo, higher than Paris, as I understood it. So I don’t know if that’s accurate. But it sounds like that.

Yeah. I mean, that wouldn’t surprise sounds like

there might be an opportunity that if if the general, you know, appetite for fashion in Japan is really high. But the offering on Amazon, Japan is quite low, then. I guess that says opportunity. Right? That sounds sounds like an easy one. Yeah, I mean,

John Cant 23:18
the way the way I sort of think about it is if you’re an international, you know, if you’re in the fashion, if you’ve got a fashion brand, because the search volume, I don’t think for those type of clothes is there on Amazon, but you could still use Amazon for fulfillment purposes, and do your market in a way from Amazon, but then send customers to Amazon to buy the products for that sort of level of trust and things. If you didn’t have the resources to, you know, set up a fulfillment center in Japan, or use a distributor, you know, if you wanted to test the market and go through an e commerce route, then I think that type of solution is kind of an interesting one. But

Michael Veazey 24:03
that’s very interesting. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And again, I think in terms of overall trends, the off Amazon marketing, but using Amazon for sales, because they have the trust, and they have the credit cards on file, and fulfillment, because they’re so good at that, particularly somewhere like Japan, where it’s going to be tricky and to find English speaking fulfillment houses, have you, that makes a great deal of sense. And again, I think that’s quite an smart way to start approaching, even the US as well, especially as the fulfillment on Amazon often gets more expensive. So Tokyo, which let’s talk about Fulfillment by Amazon, in Japan, and it is it worked in the same way as in other countries, is there any big differences?

John Cant 24:42
Yep, it’s almost identical. The only difference to highlight is that the storage fees tend to be more or they are more expensive in Japan, compared to Europe and the USA. So they’re the fees in Japan throughout the year, round about the same as kill for fees for the UK, I’ve not got the spreadsheet in front of me at the moment,

Michael Veazey 25:09
don’t worry, we can, we can put them in the show notes. And if you want the show notes, by the way, just go to 10 k collective calm, and you can find plenty of notes, which I’m busy typing as we speak here. But yeah, I’m what I would say is same as key for in the UK. What I would point out, however, is that people need to really, really clock just how expensive q4 in the US is in terms of Fulfillment by Amazon, because quite rightly, they have quite limited capacity these days relative to the amount of, you know, fulfillment they got to do. And the key for fees in the US is sort of at least twice the usual fees. And again, I don’t have it in front of me, I’ll put it on the show notes. But it’s pretty expensive. And I think it is worth bearing in mind that that’s a quarter of the year quarter. It’s, it’s really something you got to take account of because Japan needs to put in context, these expenses throughout the year, sure. But the average out per unit sales, because obviously a lot of the unit sales are going to be made in q4 in the USA, you might find this nicely that different. So again, it’s just something you need to actually a lot of going into a new market, like going abroad. And if you find that by going to Germany, when I was in my late teens, we threw up a lot of major effect on England and going to Amazon, Japan makes you fact on Amazon other places. And actually, it’s not always that different. I think that’s the other thing is that this isn’t a cultural point of view, the US is not the same as UK, it is a different culture. And in fact, for example, for you say, you know, our way of helping people is to help Amazon sellers sell in Japan, the Americans would say that’s an extremely kind of low key that’s not good enough, it needs to be super awesome helping you crush it in Japan. And that’s that’s a joke, but it isn’t a joke, because I speak to a lot of Americans for that, because it is a different culture. So I think sometimes we’re fooled by the idea that us is friendly in the same kind of culture in Japan is deeply different. And actually, you know, in some ways, I think the US is quite different as well. So we need to put it in context, rather than going all Japan that’s scary and foreign in the US. That’s friendly, insane. It’s like not really language maybe the same, but it’s not not quite the same culture. So yeah, anyway. Yes, indeed. I’m totally pretty off the road there. Sorry.

John Cant 27:23
All right. And I mean, it’s the same for everyone. You know, everybody that’s using FBA is the same fees for everybody. So it’s just a case of being aware of them and building it into your price. And I think that’s the, you know, that’s what I’d highlight on that. It’s not, yeah, just be aware of them, basically.

Michael Veazey 27:42
Yeah, that’s true. So yeah, and you’re not at a disadvantage compared to any other sellers there. And certain they used to paying a price that reflects that, I guess, as well. Okay. That’s a very good point. So we talked about clothing. And that’s a bit of a different area, although the fashion offering is more basic, but there’s not quite the search volume. But that brings us to the question of the differences as well, I understand that clothes in every way needs to be a little bit careful with what you sell. So what where’s the difference there?

John Cant 28:10
Yeah, I mean, I think the sizing of clothing is is you know, that can be a challenge as well. Japanese people tend to have different shaped bodies that size, and if you’re selling clothing is going to be a bit of a challenge. In terms of other challenges. You know, there’s there’s the compliance issue of some products that we need to get around all that clothing. It’s relatively straightforward, but things like electronic products and toys and food related products, you need product testing to be done and get your paperwork in order for to be allowed to sell them through FBA.

Michael Veazey 28:47
Yes, so tell me a little bit more about the compliance side that sounds that’s always like something that strikes fear into one’s heart. So and what sort of categories would would cause you to have to think about that?

John Cant 28:58
Sure. So it’s like food related kitchenware, cosmetics, and medical products, and trolleys and electrical products are the main ones.

Michael Veazey 29:09
They include very simple toys as well, like so important ones or little plastic ones that you don’t have to have no electronics in it or that.

John Cant 29:17
I’m not sure to be honest, we’ve not really done any toys. Yeah, okay. I’ve not looked in that much detail. That is

Michael Veazey 29:24
fair enough. And to be fair to you, it’s a very product specific kind of category specific thing about compliance, isn’t it? I mean, what’s the air?

John Cant 29:32
So when when you’re doing that words, UCE markings led the legislation? was American standards be enough? Or do you need different testing for Japan? So that it needs Japan, the specific testing, but, you know, it’s nothing to be afraid of, in the sense that, you know, it’s not either, I don’t think it’s any more stringent than Europe, or the US is just the case of in Japan, they have their own system. They, you know, they’ve got their own paperwork that they do. And they they don’t recognize the sort of international standards, and they’ve got their own version of it. So there’s kind of you know, it’s not, it’s not like, the product will will fail this tests, you know, if it’s, if you sell it in Europe, and the US, then there’s nothing to be particularly afraid of, I don’t think it’s just the case of, you know, getting the paperwork done and the compliance and the documents sorted.

Michael Veazey 30:29
Yeah. Okay. So how expensive is the process like that? And then roughly, I mean, so how long is a piece of string? I know.

John Cant 30:36
Yeah. Depends on the category for food related products. You look in, probably around about 1000 pounds, one to 2000 pounds may be depending on this factors. But yeah, for kind of medical equipment and things like that, you’re looking at sort of five to 10,000 pounds.

quite serious. But yeah.

Michael Veazey 31:00
Okay. And so we mentioned in pounds, I was about to automatically translate to dollars, because it’s kind of the currency of the internet. So we’re talking to that they’re getting quite similar, folks. So about 1.3 dollars per pound. So it’s like we were talking about 1300 to three and a half, two and a half. $3,000. But so for food related stuff, so not too terrible. Talking of dollars, do you help American sellers sell? Is it only UK sellers that you help? Or who do you actually work with?

John Cant 31:25
Ya know, we we help people from all over the world? Yeah, we’ve got some US based clients, we’ve got help people from your European clients. And we’ve got a fair proportion of clients in the UK as well.

Michael Veazey 31:36
Cool. So was, I suppose discovered that the medical product sister translating in case you wonder what the hell a pound is worth, which is not an unreasonable thing these days? I suppose we’re looking about seven to sort of 12 $13,000 army. So for those that obviously that’s quite specialist, I imagine that if you’re in that area, you already know quite a bit about compliance, because you’ve had to deal with it. But so how do people go about that?

John Cant 31:58
Yeah, I mean, that the clients that we you spoke to they they know, to some extent, more than that more than we do you know, what I’m, I I know about Amazon and content on Amazon and stuff. I’m not a particular specialist in terms of the complaints side, but we are, we’re getting our contents, our contacts in place, and we just connect people with the right, the right people in Japan that can help solve these issues. Great. That was my next question is how do you solve them? But you basically answer that I mean, do you help with it to these guys normally speak English? Or do you act as a sort of intermediary and translator? And again, it depends on the individual company, some do have English support some downs. And it’s, it’s good. Sometimes it’s good for us to be in the loop anyway. So we know what we’re going on. But what what’s going on, and we can, you know, help our client in that way, but where we don’t mind whether we’re involved or not, as long as the problem is solved.

Michael Veazey 32:56
Yeah, that’s fair enough. Now, it’s reassuring to know that you can be part of it, I think it is always a good idea to have a genuine it, especially if it’s, if you’re putting together outsourced agencies, but even if its internal team, or I just these days insist on the team meeting three times a week, even though the part time team that I’ve got working on the podcast, for example, I just think the danger of not communicating is much bigger than the danger of over communicating when you deal with international situation. So yeah, it’s good to have somebody who’s got an overview like yourselves, you’ve been through it before I can just use the voice of common sense sometimes can be quite useful, like, actually don’t do that you could, in theory, but in practice is not a good idea.

John Cant 33:35
Yeah, sure that you provide that our clients know a lot more about it, that knows, in many ways, because it’s their products, and they’re used to selling them internationally in other markets and stuff so that they know, kind of what was expected and what the processes are, generally speaking.

Michael Veazey 33:53
Yeah. So tell me is, is that going to be a thing that most people have to do? Or in most categories of products outside of testing and compliance? Nice, like they are in the US, UK?

John Cant 34:02
Yeah, so most, you know, if it’s a simple product, then yeah, there’s no real compliance documents required, you know? Yeah, it’s fairly straightforward. You can just send it in the FBA centers.

Michael Veazey 34:14
Yeah, that’s good to hear. And again, just to flip it on its head, I think, again, that thing of like, when you go to somewhere, it’s obviously foreign. If you like, in the broader sense, you take more trouble. But the fact is that again, people sell stuff in the USA without compliant certification, or the UK or, or Germany, which is kind of really scary, because Germany always has more laws than anywhere else, that they like laws and regulations. And there’s a lot of people cruising for a bruising with that, because they don’t have this certification that if Amazon turns around and asks for it one day, and they don’t have it, Dallas has been the listing and they could, in theory, suspend their account. It’s not a common thing. But it does happen occasionally. So once again, it’s actually a question of run, assuming that Japan is a difficult place to be compliant. It’s about the same as everybody else, but sound of it. But certainly you shouldn’t be assuming before you launch your product that your product doesn’t need certification. Again, it’s just a question of educating yourself. Right. But I would just flag up once again, this, flip it on its head and save you selling in the US just double check that you don’t need compliance advocates give you do? Yes, it’s another expense. But it’s protecting yourself from getting that income stream rudely cut off? Yeah, I just pulled that one out. Because I think quite a lot of people are quite ignorant about their end product. Sometimes they make assumptions, which are a bit dangerous. So what are the categories? And we talked about the ones that, you know, you’ve mentioned already that fashion, although there’s a great appetite for fashion, that the search volume is low on Amazon, Japan? Are there any other categories that are difficult or the best avoided in Amazon, Japan?

John Cant 35:40
No, I mean, that the toys one’s an interesting one, you know, we’ve not done we’ve not helped any clients in that as yet. And so that, you know, that would be an interesting one to look at. Yeah, the cosmetics is can be tricky. Again, compliance side, and the medical stuff. supplements is is again, this is another one that has lots of compliance requirements that we haven’t cracked ourselves in terms of getting getting brands launched with supplements. So yeah, don’t don’t

Michael Veazey 36:14
Yeah, it’s a huge area in the US is it isn’t competitive in Japan, it is it as it is in the US as well, if you’ve got that sort of marketplace problem as well.

John Cant 36:22
I think it’s growing. I think it’s significantly behind the US, but I think it is a growing market. Okay. Yeah, dad? I don’t know in depth about it. But yeah,

Michael Veazey 36:34
no, of course, it’s a very specialist area. But it sounds like if you got a US supplement company, it’s worth trying to crack your family. It does. And it’s also an awkward thing. So it’s certainly not listen to rush today.

John Cant 36:46
Yeah, but I mean, it comes back to what we’ve just, you know, we’ve talked about already, if it’s difficult to do, then there’s, you know, it’s harder for other people to do as well, isn’t that?

Michael Veazey 36:55
Absolutely. Yeah. If I had a US based supplement company, and I could see there’s a growing market, it’s a bit difficult to get into, I’d certainly get somebody on the case to see if they could crack it. That’s, that’s for sure. So what categories this, put it on, let’s put it the other way around. What categories? Have you seen the greatest success for your clients? And we’ve been talking about the difficulties, which might be depressing people that where have you seen the great successes for your clients?

John Cant 37:16
Yes. So sort of how relatively simple products home where, and DIY, sports and outdoors beauty and the sort of four main ones and say that, you know, yeah, we’ve seen products do well in

Michael Veazey 37:32
excellence. So they’re pretty straightforward. Standard sorts of private label type products free then. Okay, interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So generally MBC, presumably avoiding the cosmetic side, which you mentioned already, but yeah,

John Cant 37:44
exactly. You know, yes. The sort of accessory side of things rather than products that you put on your skin.

Michael Veazey 37:50
Yeah. And again, just because you can sell it now, doesn’t mean there isn’t some requirement buried in the terms of service in America, guys, just always check the terms of service when you got any question might like that. So what it’s also only reasonably straightforward, really, and actually very similar to the barriers that you get in other countries. What are the other barriers to selling in Japan? And how do we overcome those?

John Cant 38:11
And I guess it’s the content side and the language, the customer support seller support, which, on the face of it feels very hard and intimidating, I think for sellers, but I guess that’s where people like me come in to kind of help facilitate that. Okay.

Michael Veazey 38:29
Yeah. So keyword research, King listings, customer service. So presumably, those are things you help with? Because I’d imagine those are the most obvious barriers to anyone who’s thinking of it.

John Cant 38:38
Yeah, I mean, getting your listing set up correctly, is obviously key. And so yeah, that that, that’s a big part of our offering is to, you know, help people get that listing setup for Japan. And by by that we don’t we don’t just translate things word for word, you know, we, we, we do the keyword research. Japan has three different alphabets, those kind of it works, the key words can be a bit different is like having a, you know, you need a big source, basically, because you can write the words three different ways, potentially, sir, the computers obviously interpret them as three separate things. It’s not like, you know, so yeah, doing keyword research for Japan is, yeah, definitely something that’s important. Yes,

Michael Veazey 39:25
it’s quite specialists. Yeah, it makes sense. And I think also, the idea of translating word for word anywhere is really bad idea. And again, less just the US in the UK as similar markets, but just even if the people use the same exact keywords, which they often don’t, you know, if you’re buying car accessories and you looking for a windshield versus a windscreen or a hood versus a bonnet and etc, etc, that are for service as a tap, there’s a lot of different words, but more importantly, each marketplace is going to behave how each marketplace happens to behave so a lot of British people are looking for and I’m just looking at the random objects in front of me here but you know, sunglasses with a strap on or something that’s not very good idea, but I don’t know, a ballpoint pen or whatever it may be that the word ballpoint pen in in the US is very, very highly searched and and very competitive.

John Cant 40:12
suspenders is always the

Michael Veazey 40:15
right suspenders. There you go. Yes. The meaning was somewhat different things in different marketplaces. Yes. So yeah, exactly. So there’s never get to translate word for what you need to do keyword research fresh in each country anywhere. In my opinion, if you just use Google translate to put your listing up in Germany, and he’s studying in the UK, you’re probably missing out on crazy amounts of sales. Because if you just did a

John Cant 40:35
well, just to mention the Google Translate side of thing. Yes, I think I mentioned already doing sentences. With with Japanese, it just comes out gobbledygook. To be honest, Google Translate for getting your listing. setup is not an option. You know, if you if you want to go the budget route, then employing a translator and getting it translated is the cheapest way you know, word for word, but you still need it. human being to do it.

Michael Veazey 41:02
I mean, going cheapskate on your listing is just, in my opinion, just ridiculous. Because apart from if you got the keywords, right, then that’s 50% of the work done. Because if you can’t get ranked on page one and visible, then nothing else happens even like some beautiful photos in the world, and even really nicely written listing but the keyword research is rubbish, then you’re doomed. So idea, I just think is ridiculous to be. Yeah, to be cheapskate on that. It’s just just ridiculous.

John Cant 41:28
To take back to the sort of market research as well, when when you’ve looked at what what’s going on already that, you know, that influences how you set up your listing as well, you know, if you’re looking at similar products, what keywords they are using and making sure that you’re using the right terminology that people are looking for is obviously very important.

Michael Veazey 41:49
Yeah. And at that point, you basically need a native speaker, I think, or somebody who works with my guest today can’t see your way around that really. So it’s something I’ve been banging the john for getting people in from UK, Germany for quite a long time. And I’ve never there’s one person I managed to persuade. He went, he just added an extra $600,000 revenue stream in the first year he did it. So I really think Japan is another one of those things that really is just a very, very overlooked opportunity. So, guys, you heard it here first, or maybe not first. But you may have heard it for the 10th time here. Maybe it’s the 10th time that gets you to take action. So if you’ve done that, john, you provide a valuable service. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing some great detail but also inspiring us to get into it. Yeah, thank you so much for coming on. And we’ll we’ll get you back to review the situation in few months time as he developed. So thanks again.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai