When trying to open an online store on any e-commerce site, many people might choose between Amazon, Rakuten, or Yahoo!. For any target audience to see your product, you need to check the ease of use on these sites, fees, and other factors.
Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! are the top Japanese e-commerce site, however, they differ in user base and characteristics. So when opening a store, it’s important to not only have a large number of users but also which target audience is using each site.
Since each of these companies differs in user base, so check which of these companies has a customer base that is closer to the target audience for your products.
Here we introduce the numbers of users and the characteristics of the users of the three companies.
In terms of the number of users, Amazon and Rakuten are in close competition.
In 2020, Amazon took the top position with approximately 52.53 million users but in 2021, Rakuten reached about 53.7 million, a significant increase from the previous year’s about 51.38 million, the top position.
This is a result of the increased use of e-commerce sites due to COVID-19.
Rakuten has the highest number of female customers in all age groups and Amazon has the highest usage among young adults aged 18-34 (Reference: Nielsen “Online Shopping Service Usage“).
The gender and age groups of users are unique for each of the three companies. Amazon tends to be used by many men who search by product name or brand name, while Rakuten’s users tend to be women who enjoy shopping.
Women between the ages of 35-49 are more likely to use online shopping followed by men over 50. All of them use Rakuten, which makes it a good target for the older age groups in the target group.
Similar to Rakuten, Yahoo! tends to be used by many women and those in their 20s and 30s, both of which are lower than Rakuten.
Although Yahoo! lags slightly behind Amazon and Rakuten in terms of market size, it has the largest number of products and stores of the three companies and is expected to continue to grow.
A unique feature of Yahoo! is the PayPay payment. PayPay is a service operated by “PayPay Co., Ltd.” established by SoftBank and Yahoo! PayPay is characterized by the fact that stores that meet high standards can open up with their service.
So as of June 2021, the number of registered PayPay users exceeded 40 million which means approximately one in three people in Japan are registered. With a growth rate second only to LINE among the major apps used in Japan, the number of PayPay Mall users is expected to continue to increase.
When considering opening a store on any of these e-commerce sites, it’s important to check the ease of use and profitable point system from the user’s point of view. So let’s check how easy it is to use the site, purchase, and how the point system works.
In addition to these, these e-commerce sites also offer apps, so we will discuss the difference between them.
Amazon makes it easy to find the lowest price for the product you are looking for. When you search for any product on their site, usually the cheapest product is displayed first. Amazon also offers a flat shipping fee* for products sold and delivered by them. This allows users to find what they are looking for quickly.
For Rakuten and Yahoo!, each of them handles shipping differently which can make both time-consuming to find the best deal. Rakuten often displays products together that are different from what you are looking for, so it can be troublesome to have to search by other criteria.
In addition, both Rakuten and Yahoo! needs you to contact each store to ask about returns and exchanges. Compared to Amazon where there is a single point of contact, making it a smoother process on their site.
*if the product is sold by the seller, then shipping fees are not included
All three of these e-commerce sites have a system where users can earn points to use later for buying other products. Below is a table with details of each site.
Each site offers a mobile app, each offering a different service. First, what they have in common is the way users earn points: you make a purchase at each point within the app.
Even with subsequent purchases, the point rate will increase in the case of Rakuten and Yahoo! For Yahoo!, there is a campaign that offers 5X points for purchases made with the app on days with a 5, which allows more points can be collected.
In terms of app features, all there of these sites, allow search functions by voice or barcode. In addition to this, Amazon’s app allows image search and offers chat services support.
The most important element for sellers is the fees and sales methods of each e-commerce site. So when opening an online shop for the first time, you will want to know what kind of support system are in place.
Here, we will compare listing fees and give you details of their product management and shipping methods as well as the degree of freedom in selling methods. In addition to these, we will also look at their support system including whether or not you will be provided with professional consultants.
The listing fees of each site are as followed below.
As you can see, Yahoo! Has the biggest advantage since the initial monthly system usage fee, sales royalties, etc. are all free.
Usually, product management and shipping are handled by each seller, however, Amazon and Rakuten, both offer a choice in service to act on your behalf.
Amazon offers FBA, Fulfillment by Amazon. This service handles the work from inventory management to delivery in its warehouse. This not only saves time and effort but also has the advantage to give reliability to the product through quick response.
Rakuten offers an outsourced logistics service called Rakuten Super Logistics. This operates 365 days a year, which means they can handle shipments on weekends and holidays. This makes it possible for you to differentiate yourself from competitors and increase your purchase rate.
Both Rakuten and Yahoo! offer a high degree of flexibility in terms of sales. So you can create store and shop pages with your characteristics. Compared to Amazon where there is a fixed format that does not allow creativity. But, on Amazon, it is easier for beginners to get started because it doesn’t have to create a site.
Rakuten provides a dedicated EC consultant for each store operator. They support everything from store management to sales strategies and offer the know-how Rakuten has accumulated over 20 years of experience. On the other hand, Amazon and Yahoo! do not provide consultant support but consultation via call center or email. And at Yahoo!, their help desk will support you with questions regarding store opening preparations and operations.
All three of these sites hold many campaigns throughout the year. Even though each has its unique promotions, they all share the same regular monthly sales and several major sales a year.
Also, Rakuten has store-specific sales while Yahoo! has PayPay-specific sales.
A look at the campaign content for each site and find which ones are likely to promote your products more.
Amazon holds regular monthly time sale festivals, as well as large-scale sales: the Prime Sale in July, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November. There are abundant opportunities to increase sales.
To participate in these sales, you must meet certain requirements such as being highly evaluated by large sellers. The Prime Sale aims to support small and medium-sized sellers and has panel discussions that are held in advance.
Rakuten holds a shopping marathon and a monthly sale of “Days with 5 and 0”. Rakuten also holds “Rakuten Wonderful Day” is held on the first day of every month, “Patronage Appreciation Day” is held on the 18th of every month, and Rakuten Super Sale is held four times a year. In addition to these regular sales, Rakuten also allows individual stores to hold their sales. Among these campaign sales, “Rakuten Super Sale” is very popular as products are sold at less than half the price, and store owners can expect to attract a lot of customers by listing them. Discounted items must be applied for in advance and must pass a screening process.
On Yahoo! They have “5’s Day Campaign” and “Doublet Day Coupon” that is held every month and November has “Super PayPay Festival” specializing in PayPay. During this campaign, the PayPay bonus is given more than usual if you pay with PayPal during the period.
During these sale periods, points increase is voluntarily funded store owner will voluntarily bear about 2.5% to 14%, which can be expected to attract customers and increase sales.
Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! each have different user groups and offer different costs, sales methods, and support systems. So, it’s important to choose one according to your needs.
For example, you would use Amazon if you want to concentrate on sales promotion without spending time on site creation or use Rakuten if you want individuality on the shop page, and Yahoo! if you want to open a store with a low initial cost.