Here is a quick, high-level look at what is happening in Japan online:
1. Internet Penetration
A recent report by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) shows that 93.3% of Japan’s population (127 million) access the internet. Further growth will slow as practically everyone already has internet access. Usage levels is where growth will see continued increases, especially for mobile.
Cisco expects “in 2020, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the internet every 43 minutes in Japan.”
2. Top Search Engines
As of August 2018, Google’s share of Japan’s search market was 72%. They have been by far the leader in Japan and still have an upward trend slowly siphoning users from Yahoo! (23%) and Bing (under 4%). Yahoo! Japan is a popular site for many purposes in Japan, but for search, Google is the leader.
3. Mobile Usage
eMarketer reports that smartphone usage is at about 56% of the Japanese population and will increase about one percentage point per year for the next few years. While Japanese consumers have always liked new technology, they lag behind some other countries in Asia in smartphone penetration. For example, mobile usage is above 75% in Singapore and South Korea.
The reason given by the report is that the Japanese population is older on average and not as interested in smartphones and their applications as a typical customer is in the other countries in Asia. Cost is also a reason as it is more expensive for data plans and smartphones in Japan than the other Asian markets.
The leading ecommerce shopping platforms in Japan currently are Amazon (20%), Yahoo! Japan (9%) and Rakuten (20%). Amazon has made a large investment in Japan in recent years where only two years ago Rakuten was the clear leader. Now, Amazon has slightly taken the lead.
5. Online Payments
Online businesses widely accept credit cards and it is the most common method for payment. But other methods are also quite popular, like cash on delivery, payment at a convenience store and bank transfers. To a much smaller degree, some payments for online purchases may be as a billing add-on via an internet provider, eMoney, a check or other methods.