In recent years, Japanese online retailers have been exporting an increasing amount of merchandise cross-border, primarily to the United States and China. According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan, the retail value generated through cross-border e-commerce by Chinese consumers from Japanese business operators was at approximately 1.3 trillion Japanese yen in 2017. In the same year, people from the United States spent about 713 billion yen on products ordered via online retail platforms from Japan.
Japan is not only the fourth largest global e-commerce market, but also the leading mobile online retail market in the world, which adds to the many attractive opportunities for cross-border merchants. However, the country also maintains a highly sophisticated shopping environment with a variety of trusted, domestic online retail sites. Therefore, cross-border e-commerce imports are significantly lower. According to a survey conducted by PayPal, only about six percent of Japanese respondents participated in cross-border shopping this year. Despite the apparent hesitance towards ordering from overseas retailers, cross-border imports are estimated to consistently rise over the course of the next four years. Based on data provided by METI, e-commerce imports from China and the United States to Japan will reach a market value of almost 309 billion Japanese yen by 2021, up from 257 billion yen in 2017.
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