Amazon Takes On Alibaba Through Its Japanese Portal

Chinese tourists shopping in Japan is not an unusual site – for many years consumers from mainland China have been a mainstay of Japan’s various shopping districts. Also well established is the Chinese consumer’s love of shopping online.

Amazon is now moving to combine the passion for shopping the web and the passion for shopping one of their nearer national neighbors by quietly launching a Chinese language version of its Japanese site and offering reduced shipping rates to mainland China. Alibaba may be the king of the category when it comes to Chinese eCommerce, but Amazon is betting that it can cash in on the 2.34 trillion yen ($22.5 billion) in 2019 Chinese consumers are projected to spend on Japanese eCommerce products 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.”

Amazon is not alone in noticing that “huge” opportunity. Hometown hero Rakuten already offers a Chinese language portal, as well as one in English.

Amazon Japan’s shopping portal offers listings  in simplified Chinese, and trades on the promise of authentic brands and quality.

“Things in Japan are well made and 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.

Shipping rates range from  500 to 600 yen, and delivery takes 2 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.

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