HOW TO LAUNCH INTO THE JAPANESE DM MARKETN
The direct marketing business is the most suitable business style for a global business, since it does not need any shops. In a way, if a consumer in Japan get a foreign catalogue and buy something from it, it means that the cataloger entered in the Japanese market. In short, how much you are prepared to pay to gain customers in Japan will decide how far you will go into the Japanese market. There are three major steps to launch into the Japanese market.
First step: Introducing yourself
Ask the Japanese media to introduce your catalogue. Inform Japanese consumers that you will send your catalogues to Japan upon request.
Second step: Language service
Produce order forms and catalogues in the Japanese language. Even just the order form in Japanese will be useful for the Japanese consumers. If you can conduct a customer service in Japanese as well, that would be very kind to the Japanese consumers.
Third step: Establish footings in Japan
Establish footings to improve customer service and your distribution system. One of the successful examples of this is L.L. Bean.
?In the third step, there are two ways to establish footings; independently, or with Japanese partners. For the independent example, Land's End established its branch company, Nippon Land's End in response to increasing orders from Japan. For the latter examples, Eddie Bauer has a partnership with Otto-Sumisho and Quelle has a partnership with Matsuzakaya Department Store.
?The language barrier is probably higher than you think in Japan. Many Japanese are shy in speaking English, and if they are forced to do so, they may give up ordering your merchandise in the first place. But it does not mean that they do not understand any English. Most of them, especially the younger generation, can read and write basic English. So, at least the orders and questions should be taken by fax, not only by telephone. Fax is convenient from the point of difference in time as well. If you can prepare the order form in Japanese, it would be better.
?In Japan, there are several laws and regulations for the sales and mail-order business, and you have to observe those laws and regulations. For example, in Specified Commercial Transaction Law, it is decided that the direct marketer should carry the following information in their catalogues: name and address of the marketer, sales price, delivery time and charge, payment method and due date, return policy, valid period of the catalogue, available quantity of the merchandise (if the quantity is limited), and so on. In order to avoid any possible troubles with Japanese consumers, this information should desirably be in Japanese.