Japan’s online wine market

Famously early to adopt, the Japanese consumer is comfortable buying online. Roddy Ropner looks at how this has shaped the online wine market.

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Japan’s established and diverse wine market appears ideally suited to e-commerce, as 90m online shoppers already benefit from high levels of internet penetration, advanced transport infrastructure and sophisticated delivery systems. Japan is the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market, though online transactions represent only 8.7 percent of the total, behind levels seen in China, the USA and UK. Yet as the wine market evolves, the foundations are in place to exploit this channel and all sectors from producer to retailer can play a positive role in its development. 

Around a quarter of Japan’s 30m regular wines drinkers already buy online. Women represent more than 50 percent of wine drinkers but many online retailers note that men in their mid-40s to late-60s are the most active buyers. This suggests an area for growth. Wine educator and writer Mari Yasuda has been buying wine for over two decades and online for 15 years. She buys everyday wines from a selection of preferred online retailers, but heads to physical stores when she needs a wine for a special occasion. This kind of multi-channel buying is in step with international norms. 

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