U.S. Cataloger Marketing in Japan-Far From Over (891 words)
REI's e-commerce site launched in June 1999 to service its existing Japanese customer base. The company further expanded its presence in the Japanese market to include pricing in yen and local fulfillment for both its print and online catalogs following the opening of its fulfillment center in Yokohama. Local distribution complements the cataloger's in-country customer service center, which handles both e-mail and phone orders placed by its Japanese online and print customers. It also has enabled REI to place in its Tokyo store Internet kiosks, from which customers can order products.
While Barnett admits she hasn't recently seen many new catalog launches in Japan, she recommends that any cataloger considering a Japanese launch should use in-country partners for fulfillment and or customer service. A partner can provide value-added services and marketing advice to guide you.
Barnett also recommends that you integrate your Web and print catalog business into one strategy. The Web can be a useful tool for new customer acquisition. At a very minimum, says Barnett, maintain a Japanese-language catalog request page or
a Japanese Web call-back button on an English-language Web site where consumers can specify a time for a Japanese-speaking service rep to call.
Whether or not Japan is able to pull itself out of an economic recession and return to its former glory is yet to be seen. Regardless, Japan is not a market for the faint of heart.