Any dropshipping business’s success depends on finding the right products with verified demand and then marketing them effectively.
While there are still many great opportunities for dropshippers working with products from China, there is a lot of competition.
Smart dropshippers are considering alternatives and wondering if Japan may be a viable source of products for an online business.
Let’s review dropshipping from Japan and take a look at the opportunities.
The Opportunity for Dropshipping from Japan
Japan is the world’s second-largest developed economy, with a vast range of consumer goods and well-established supply chain infrastructure.
It’s a country with excellent internet access and there’s a growing push toward using English in professional settings; this makes it easy to work with agents, suppliers, and other business contacts in Japan.
Even better, Japan has a reputation for making products that are of superior quality and design.
Dropshippers looking for an alternative to Chinese products and AliExpress will find that Japan is an excellent choice. They will also be able to offer their customers products with higher perceived quality.
Pros of Dropshipping Imported Products from Japan
There are very few dropshippers offering Japanese products.
Products made in Japan are perceived as being better than those made in China.
Japanese products allow dropshippers to explore unique niches, some of which we will discuss later.
Easier Ad Targeting
Because Japanese products are relatively unique, there is more opportunity to use specific keywords or interests in your Facebook or Google Ads targeting. Also, websites or ads featuring Japanese imagery will be different and stand out.
|FB Ads Interest||Audience Size|
|Nightmare (Japanese band)||36,310,560|
|History of Japan||40,287,220|
|Japanese popular culture||70,313,810|
|Japanese hip hop||129,287,500|
Cons of Dropshipping Imported Products from Japan
While many Japanese businesses are pushing to adopt English, it’s still only spoken by about 30% of Japanese people. This can make it difficult for you to navigate websites, let alone communicate with suppliers and agents.
Fewer Shipping Options
Most Japanese products are designed and marketed domestically, so most e-commerce platforms do not offer international shipping. You will need to use an agent or a mail forwarding service.
If a supplier does not ship internationally and does no business in your target country, it can be difficult to anticipate demand and test your market.
Products Available from Japanese Suppliers
Some of the products uniquely associated with Japan include:
Anime and Manga
Japanese anime and manga have a thriving fan community throughout the world. Products include comics, books, films, action figures, costumes and fashion accessories that fan communities are passionate about.
Video Games and Consoles
Of course, Japan is famous for its video game industry, including giants Nintendo and Sony. The Japanese gaming community also includes arcade games, tabletop games, and world-famous RPGs like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.
Toys and Hobbies
Remember when every kid in the world had a Tamagotchi? Japan produces world-renowned toys and games and is particularly famous for increasingly life-like robots and robotic toys.
From Seiko and Citizen watches to high-tech kitchen appliances, Japanese brands like Sony, Hitachi, Panasonic, Fujitsu, Sharp, Toshiba, and more bring you high-end electronics that are world-famous for quality and innovation.
Japanese Food Items
Japanese food items are hot right now, with matcha, chocolate, sake, and beef being incredibly popular. There is also a big market for unusual Japanese snacks, candies, and soft drinks.
Cameras and Camera Accessories
The best camera brands globally, including Canon, Fujifilm, JVC, Konica, and Olympus, are Japanese.
Beauty and Cosmetics
Japanese beauty brands are thriving, lagging just behind competitors in Korea. Beauty and skincare products from DHC, Shiseido, Canmake, and Kitao are regularly featured in must-have beauty lists. They are favored by influencers around the world.
Tools and Cutlery
From legendary swords and kitchen utensils to hand saws and woodworking tools, artisans in Japan have been working Japanese steel into iconic tools for centuries.
Japanese kitchen knives have revolutionized professional kitchens worldwide. On a side note, every woodworker on YouTube has an unboxing video when they get a new tool from Japan.
Japan is world-famous for groundbreaking fashion. Its industry runs the gamut from the highest quality silks in ancient designs to fresh-off-the-runway styles, to fashion-forward street looks.
In summary, there are thousands of fantastic Japanese products with well-established markets and consumers around the world.
These products tend to have a reputation for quality, luxury, and durability, so dropshippers should look for high-end customers willing to spend more for the best products.
Best Japanese Dropshipping Suppliers
There are several industry players and suppliers for dropshippers offering products from Japan. Here are some of your best options.
Japanese Dropshipping Platforms
Like in other countries, some Japanese suppliers offer products with the use of a dropshipping platform. These platforms make dropshipping from Japan fast and easy.
All you need to do is order from a seller on the platform and have them delivered to your customer’s address.
Some offer white label services so you can rebrand your products, and Shopkyo.com offers Shopify integration and app support.
Japanese Shipping/Forwarding Agents
These companies will help you order products from domestic suppliers in Japan and then ship them overseas on your behalf.
Because so few Japanese companies offer international shipping, using an agent may be essential. However, their service can be expensive, with fees and markups. Also orders can take longer to process as they are the go-between.
Japanese E-Commerce Platforms
These are consumer-facing e-commerce platforms designed for domestic sales within Japan. Many of these platforms have limited English and may offer limited payment options.
However, you may find some sellers on these platforms who provide international shipping. They also represent an excellent opportunity to find unique products with reduced international competition.
If you have space to store inventory, Japanese bulk and wholesale suppliers are much more accustomed to international shipping. You can order items in quantities for a discount.
The wholesale seller ships inventory to your warehouse, and then you fulfill orders locally. This is the best option for dropshippers who are using 3PL companies to manage their inventory and logistics.
Marketing Products from Japan
Because so many Japanese brands are well known, and their products enjoy a good reputation for quality, marketing them aren’t complicated. The most important consideration is what kind of products you are offering and how to reach your audience.
Japanese products with a younger target market, like clothing, games, beauty products, and food, are an excellent fit for demand-generation traffic sources.
They lend themselves to eye-catching videos and thumbnails for platforms like Instagram and YouTube. They are also marketable with precisely targeted keywords in paid ads.
Japanese products with a luxury market, like electronics, cutlery, and cameras, are higher ticket items.
Your website should reflect a high-end experience, with great content and a compelling story. As a rule of thumb, these products should only be remarketed with paid ads.
Advice for Dropshipping from Japan
Use a Professional Translation Service
Japanese does not translate easily into English, and most free online tools will not do a very good job.
When making initial inquiries and contacts, it’s not a bad idea to create a template email or document and have it professionally translated to start the communication on the right foot.
You can also use companies that will translate phone calls in real-time, if necessary.
Use an Agent
Because of Japan’s unique challenges, including language, culture, and shipping issues, it’s even more important to try to work with a local agent than it might be in other countries.
Research Payment Methods
Japanese e-commerce stores offer a vast range of digital payment methods. Many of them are unfamiliar to international buyers. Using an agent or platform will help simplify the payment and transaction process.
Japanese products lend themselves to a wide variety of unique niche markets for dropshippers.
Also, because of language and shipping challenges, there is significantly less competition.
For dropshippers willing to take on these challenges, it represents an incredible opportunity to offer unique, eye-catching, desirable products that come with outstanding reputations for quality and performance.
Japan is also becoming more friendly for dropshipping, as merchants who have started doing international business on Shopify and Alibaba are experiencing great success and getting a lot of attention.
Recent Japanese initiatives to expand the use of English and explore new export opportunities will benefit dropshippers who want to take advantage of the moment and gain from this new trend.
In fact, it might be the perfect moment to step off the beaten path and explore new opportunities from Japan.