Three examples of successful cross-border e-commerce by Japanese companies! What are the key points in selling?

Some of you may want to know about examples of Japanese manufacturers’ success in cross-border e-commerce. This article introduces three companies with different success factors.

In addition, key points based on successful case studies will be explained, so those who plan to sell their products and services through cross-border EC are encouraged to refer to this section.

By the end, you should be able to find the sales and marketing methods that are right for your company.

Three examples of successful cross-border EC by Japanese manufacturers

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It is said that the market for cross-border EC will expand in the future, and the industry as a whole will become even more exciting. The following three Japanese manufacturers are examples of successful cross-border EC.

  2. Tokyo Otaku Mode
  3. Kanarabo Corporation

The details below will give you some hints on how to succeed in cross-border EC. We recommend that companies who are planning to start cross-border EC should check each case study.

Case Study 1: BE FORWARD Co.

BE FORWARD, an exporter of used cars to overseas markets, has been very successful in entering the African market.

This site sells exported automobiles, mainly to Africa, and had sales of approximately 400 million yen in 2007. However, the market for cross-border EC has expanded over time, and by the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, sales were approximately 43 billion yen. With the rise of cross-border EC, the company’s sales have swelled to about 100 times in 10 years.

As of 2016, the company now exports used cars not only to Africa, but to 126 countries around the world. Nevertheless, the African business still accounts for more than half of our sales.

The main reason for BE FORWARD’s success is believed to be word-of-mouth promotion of the site’s convenience and reliability. The site’s appeal spread throughout Africa by word of mouth, with customers saying, “If you buy from BE FORWARD, it’s cheap, fast, and trustworthy.

In an effort to expand word-of-mouth, B.F.O.R.D., Inc. also puts exclusive stickers on the vehicles it exports and gives away free company T-shirts.

In addition, various other corporate efforts, such as the use of social networking services to disseminate information, have also contributed to the success of the project.

Case Study 2: Tokyo Otaku Mode

Tokyo Otaku Mode is a cross-border e-commerce site that sells Japanese anime and manga related goods to overseas customers.We sell pop culture-related products to more than 130 countries around the world, and our sales volume increases every year.

In establishing this website, we have incorporated a number of innovations, including the in-house production of logistics work and a translation team composed of non-Japanese.

Through its Facebook page, the company also disseminated the latest news, event information, and related goods related to Japanese anime and manga, spreading Japanese pop culture throughout the world.

As of 2018, the site has received support from people around the world, with more than 20 million Facebook likes, and is the best example of a successful linkage between SNS and e-commerce sites. This site is the best example of a successful linkage between a social networking service and an EC site.

Note that the company operating this site is not strictly speaking a Japanese manufacturer, since it is headquartered in Delaware, USA. However, since the representative of the company is Tomohide Kamei, who used to work for Cyber Communications, we have included it as a successful example of a Japanese manufacturer.

Case Study 3: Kanarabo Corporation

In 2017, Kanarabo Inc. opened Fujiko, an e-commerce site for cosmetics with a focus on entering the Chinese market. And just six months after its opening, the site had such a big breakthrough that production could not keep up with the demand.

The site focused on hair care products for China and other promotions with a clear target audience. As a result, positive feedback was received not only from China but also from Thailand and Los Angeles, and the site succeeded in significantly increasing sales from the initial stage.

This is the best example of a successful cross-border e-commerce campaign that has been achieved through marketing measures targeted at a specific target audience.

Learning from Successful Cases|Three Important Points for Cross-border EC

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This section explains three important points for cross-border EC. If you are planning to start selling through cross-border EC, please refer to the details below.

Point 1: Focus on marketing

The first point is to focus on marketing. By focusing on marketing, you can spread your e-commerce site’s visibility around the world.

Nevertheless, achieving success in marketing is not easy and requires a variety of innovations. In addition, marketing, in a nutshell, involves multiple measures, including the following

Types of Marketing feature
content marketing Methods for acquiring, nurturing, and connecting prospective customers to purchases through the dissemination of valuable information
KOL Marketing A method of using influencers who have the ability to communicate domestically and have them introduce products and services on social networking sites.
Video Marketing Methods to convey the attractiveness of products and services using You Tube and other videos

There are several of these marketing techniques, and the appropriate technique depends on the product or service you are selling. It is important to test them one at a time to find the appropriate marketing technique for your company.

If people become aware of your products and services through marketing, you can expect to attract new customers and increase sales, so this is a point that should be actively addressed.

Point 2: Awareness of easy-to-use site design

When managing an e-commerce site, be conscious of designing a site that is easy for users to use. Building an easy-to-use site will turn existing customers into fans and lead to an increase in repeat customers.

It is important to design the site from the user’s perspective, especially if the company is very particular about its products and services. This is because there are cases in which a company’s strong commitment to a particular product or service makes it less convenient for users.

A site that is difficult to use will lead to increased abandonment rates, so awareness of site design design (improved UI and UX) is necessary.

In addition, when enhancing the convenience of the site design, be aware of “ease of product search,” “lead-in to purchase,” and “credibility to the user. These three points are particularly important.

Point 3: Use word of mouth.

World-renowned cross-border e-commerce has been successful through the use of word of mouth. By getting referrals from customers who have actually purchased products, trust in products is improved because information is available without discovery.

As a result, the purchase rate from e-commerce site inflows will increase, and the appeal will also be extended to those who cannot be reached by web advertising or SNS marketing.

However, gaining credibility through word-of-mouth is not easy, and requires a variety of creative measures. Specific measures include giving away points for referring friends, encouraging buyers to post product reviews, and encouraging followers to follow and spread the word on social networking sites.

If you can make good use of word of mouth among buyers, you can quickly expand the visibility of your product or service.

3 Sales Methods to Start Cross-border EC

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There are three main ways to start cross-border EC

  1. Sell on your own e-commerce site
  2. Open a store in a domestic online mall
  3. Open a store in an overseas online mall

I will explain each one in detail.

Method 1: Sell on your own e-commerce site

The first is to create and sell your own EC site. To build your own e-commerce site, you will need to hire a domestic e-commerce vendor to handle multilingualization.

By not relying on other online malls, the company can freely determine the design of its e-commerce site and promote only its own brand, enabling it to establish a continuous relationship with customers who have already purchased once.

However, building your own e-commerce site is more difficult than other methods, so consider this based on your company’s budget situation.

Method 2: Open a store in a domestic online mall

The second method is to open a store in a domestic online mall. This is a less difficult hurdle than other sales methods because it simply uses an existing system.

While opening a store in an online mall is easy to start, it uses an existing design, so you cannot introduce your own particular style. It also comes with disadvantages such as additional fees.

The following are representative online malls in Japan.

System 1. Shopify

It is an online mall operated by Shopify, a Canadian-based company with more than 1 million stores in 175 countries. Shopify also holds the number one market share in the world.

Shopify is a monthly service, so be sure to check the cost and features of each plan before using it.

System 2.Launchcart

Launchcart is an online mall operated by Starfield Corporation. As a cross-border e-commerce mall specializing in Asia, it can be recommended for those who are just starting out in cross-border e-commerce.

The initial fee is from 55,000 yen and the monthly fee is from 32,780 yen. The cost varies depending on whether it is a single or comprehensive mail-order service. Fee simulations are available on the official website.

Method 3: Open a store in an overseas online mall

Another option is to open a store in an overseas online mall.The advantage of opening a store in an overseas mall is that it is easier to attract customers from that country and delivery times are shorter due to the use of bonded zones.

However, there are different online malls in different countries, such as “e-bay” in the U.S. and “Tmall” in China.

To increase the number of sales of your products and services, you need to select a suitable online mall. Please refer to the following for representative international malls.

System 1. Lazada

Lazada is one of the largest e-commerce malls in Southeast Asia. Known as the “Amazon of Thailand,” it operates mainly in Thailand and Singapore.

Other countries in Southeast Asia in general, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, are also supported. There is no initial fee to use the mall, and a 6-10% commission fee is charged when a sale is made.

System 2.Tianmao International (Tianmao)

It is the largest EC mall in China operated by Alibaba Group. With a very large number of customers per year, Tianneko International is an overseas mall that should be considered once for those who are serious about selling through cross-border EC.

In order to open a store on Tianneko International, you must meet strict criteria. Store opening fees are also comparatively high, so be sure to check whether your business model is suitable before using Tianneko International.


This article describes examples of Japanese manufacturers’ success in cross-border EC and the key points for success.

It is not easy to succeed in cross-border e-commerce. When selling products and services, you need to focus on marketing, word of mouth, and sales methods.

If you are planning to develop cross-border EC, please refer to the successful cases introduced in this article and look for hints on how to make it a success.


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