The Negotiation

Today on The Negotiation we are speaking with Ben Robinson, Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus mostly covering the Japan and Singapore region. We talk about how to successfully localize a product to be successful selling into the Japanese market, noting how they are really rather price-insensitive and how Japan is one of the most insular and protected markets globally. We also talk about how long it might take, and the strategies brands can deploy, in order to build trust which is difficult to obtain as Japanese consumers typically live in the camp that foreign brands don’t build products with the Japanese in mind. We discuss the different social media in Japan and some consumer trends that have emerged in the last few years that are unique to Japan that brands should know about as well as their appetite for some of the trending techs coming out of the west like cryptocurrency and cleantech. We talk about how to be successful on the Shopify platform in Japan and the importance of getting delivery right including not just when but also what time.

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Ben Robinson, Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus. He shares his experience working with a growing number of large Asia-Pacific brands on the ecommerce platform, with a focus on the Japanese market.
Many of the brands Ben works with today are generally “high-growth, high-volume stores that are looking to increase their presence in different markets.” Ben and his team evaluate each company’s business model and operational capability in order to help them maximize the platform’s features. Two examples of brands who have successfully gone global are Koala Mattress and Allbirds.
To successfully localize products for the Japanese market, Ben says that it all comes down to three factors: trust, presentation, and knowing what is important to the Japanese consumer by region. Regarded as one of the most insular and protective markets globally, consumers generally prefer Japanese-made products and brands. He explains that the three consumer trends unique to Japan today are cost, space-saving, luxury, and eco-friendliness and sustainability. Ben recommends foreign brands to work with local influencers through social media to help grow their level of trust and relatability.
Foreign brands should research the already-established ecommerce ecosystem that is unique to Japan. They must then tailor their marketing, copy, and brand message accordingly, with a focus on describing your product’s features, since the Japanese tend to do extensive research on new brands before making a single purchase. It will also greatly help to tailor your SEO per region by understanding different writing systems and styles. Ben notes that Yahoo is as prevalent in Japan as Google is; so SEO must be optimized for both search engines.
To build brand loyalty using social media, it is important to first understand that the Japanese use social media differently to Westerners. Line is more widely used over Facebook. Twitter and YouTube also have a large presence, and Instagram is slowly catching on as well. It helps to drive consumer interactions post-purchase. After a sale is made, the brand can encourage consumers—even incentivize them—to leave positive reviews or share their experiences either through writing or video. This can go a long way in nurturing loyalty.

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.