Japan leads the world in mobile commerce



In January, digital performance advertising firm Criteo released a report titled The State of Mobile Commerce Q4 2014, in which they present and discuss a range of statistics and other compelling data about the state of mobile commerce worldwide.

Some of the key takeaways:

  • Consumers are buying on mobile devices, not just researching
  • Smartphones have overtaken tablets in mobile sales
  • Mobile average order value is reaching desktop levels, and mobile conversion rates are catching up with those of desktops, too
  • Top quartile retailers generate almost 40% of their online sales from mobile
  • Share of mobile sales from Android devices is now significant

The data they collected in the course of their research includes global EC markets, but there are a number of interesting figures related specifically to the Japan market. I’ll summarize these here.

Japan and Asia top the charts in mobile commerce

Mobile Share of Online Retail Transactions, by Country

In Japan nearly half of all online retail transactions are made on either a smartphone or tablet. South Korea is just behind Japan, with the UK coming in third at 41%. The breakdown by device type looks like this:



Note the massive gulf between smartphones and tablets in the top two countries, Japan and South Korea. In these two markets consumers are overwhelmingly using smartphones to purchase online.

Mobile Conversion Rates Compared to the US (Benchmarked at 100)

Japan also leads the world when it comes to mobile conversion rates. To what can we attribute this? The Criteo reports suggest that larger screen sizes, the growth in mobile-optimized e-commerce websites, and access to a variety of payment methods may be key factors. There is also the fact that mobile commence has been around in Japanese since the days of old the feature phone, making Japan a more mature (and mobile-friendly) market than, for example, the US or France.

Mobile device support on Japanese EC websites

The online shopping figures for Japan are impressive, to be sure, but how does this relate to support for mobile devices? The most recent figures we have access to are from 2013 and are based on a survey of 334 Japanese e-commerce websites. Their findings look like this:



Smartphone-optimized e-commerce websites account for around 60% of the total, with the majority of these being in the areas of fashion and accessories (with around 90% of these supporting smartphones) followed by Books/CDs/DVDs and hobbies (incl. sports and music).


Looking Ahead

In Japan the trend is only expected to continue as more and more websites become optimized for mobile devices and offer e-commerce features. While the move to responsive website design in Japanese EC has been slow in coming, this is beginning to change as new responsive EC platforms become available. Magento is one such a platform, and it allows for cost-effective development of responsive (mobile-optimized) and multi-lingual websites for both B2C and B2B.

Another reason for optimism about the growth of EC in Japan is the small but quickly growing B2B e-commerce market here. B2B e-commerce in Japan has long been dominated by an entrenched old guard of expensive ERP and other back-office systems, but this is beginning to change with the increasing availability of alternatives like Netsuite and Hybris, along with EC platforms like Magento that can be developed and customized to support multiple market types.

In other words, we can only expect mobile commerce in Japan to get bigger and better going forward!

Have a Japanese e-commerce website which could benefit from improved mobile support?

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