E-Commerce in Japan – a Perspective From Shopify

with Mark Wang, Head of International – Shopify Japan

About Shopify 

Shopify is an e-commerce platform headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It offers online retailers a suite of services, including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store for small merchants. The company has over 1,000,000 businesses using its platform in approximately 175 countries, and reported a total gross merchandise volume of $61.1 billion in 2019.

Shopify in Japan

Shopify entered the Japanese market in 2017. Within a year of operation, the company more than doubled its sales figures.One of the biggest focuses for Shopify is to increase its range of payment methods on the platform, given the variety of payment methods available in Japan. Other areas of focus include building up partnerships with key stakeholders, as well as implementing localisation strategies to customise its product, buying experience,  selling experience and merchant support to the Japanese market. 

"From a payments perspective, Shopify had a very North American-centric product.

In the region, the vast majority of consumers use credit cards. You could offer no additional payment method apart from credit cards, and still scale as much as you possibly can in the market without being hindered by a lack of payment availability.  

As we all know, that's not the truth in most markets around the world—particularly for Japan. Here, the demand of being customisable to the shopper is increasingly important. This has been a challenge for Shopify, given the sheer range and variety of payment methods available in the market. 

As an operating system for e-commerce, there are many important components we need to implement to meet the needs of our merchants. One critical piece of the puzzle is payments, and given the fragmentation, we can't comfortably say we've offered the best product-market fit for the Japanese market without adapting to the payments landscape.

Given the high rates of mobile internet usage, Japan is a strong market for carrier billing. At Shopify, we've always believed in working with the best partners. To expand our payment methods through enabling carrier billing in Japan, we've chosen to partner with DOCOMO Digital."


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