Resale Price Maintenance in Japan
Resale Price Maintenance (RPM) in Japan is when brands and manufacturers tell and control what prices distributors and retailers can sell their products for.
Not being able to control the price of their products is one reason that some brands have come to distrust the Amazon platform. When multiple sellers are competing to sell the same product between themselves, they start to compete aggressively on price and cause a race to the bottom. Whilst this is good for the consumer, for the sellers and manufacturers it can cause disaster. Annihilating profit margins and causing sellers to lose money.
Countries around the world have different laws regarding “price fixing” from suppliers.
Japan’s laws forbid resale price maintenance for most categories of good. The exceptions being some cultural goods like books & music.
Here is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have a summary of resale price maintenance laws around the world in this document. Japan’s selling price regulation is on page 83 in this document: http://www.oecd.org/competition/abuse/1920261.pdf
“In Japan, RPM falls under the category of unfair trade practices prohibited by Section 19 of the Antimonopoly Act (AMA, the Japanese Competition Law), and thus is, in principle, illegal. However, the AMA exempts certain cases, under specific conditions, from the general prohibition on RPM (Section 24-2 of the AMA). The system for exempting certain types of RPM from general prohibition (herein after referred to as the “RPM system”) was introduced in 1953.
Currently, commodities for which the “RPM system” applies are the following:
i) commodities designated by the Fair Trade Commission of Japan (JFTC) (hereinafter referred to as the “designated commodities”)
(a) certain cosmetics with a retail price of less than 1, 030 Japanese Yen (14 items)
(b) certain non-prescription medicines for general use (14 items)
ii) copy-righted works (books, magazines, newspapers, record disks, music tapes, and music Cds.
Since the middle of the 1960s, the JFTC has at several times, repealed some of the “designated commodities”. Thus, the scope of “designated commodities” has been substantially reduced. The remaining items of “designated commodities” are to be repealed as of April 1997. “
In Japan the anti-price fixing law is the “Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolization and Maintenance of Fair Trade” and full details are here: https://www.jftc.go.jp/en/legislation_gls/amended_ama09/index_files/The_Antimonopoly_Act_2.pdf
Setting the price of products on Amazon Japan?
In agreements with your distributors you can’t get them to fix the price of your products on Amazon Japan.
There are 2 ways to control things:
- Don’t use distributors and sell direct to consumers yourself with a platform like Amazon Japan or Rakuten Japan.
- Limit the number of distributors that you use and ask them not sell on Amazon.
From Amazon’s perspective, they don’t stop other sellers from listing the same products so there is no mechanism for brands to stop other retailers selling their products there. The only time Amazon step-in is counterfeit products are being sold.
Maintain a good relationship with your Japanese distributor
If you are honest with your distributor when you start selling in Japan that you are going to be selling your products yourself on Amazon, then it will avoid and conflict later. Relationships are very important in Japan and communication can be tricky. So it’s important to make it clear with any Japanese distributors what your plans are and what your expectations are from them.
Should I still sell on Amazon Japan?
The laws in Japan are similar to the EU and UK so if you’re selling in those regions, then you should sell in Japan too.
Just be mindful of your relationship with your distributors and clearly communicate with them if you are planning to sell your own products online in Japan yourself.
Global Competition Review – Japan E-commerce: https://globalcompetitionreview.com/insight/the-asia-pacific-antitrust-review-2019/1188997/japan-e-commerce
Japan Times article -Pricing system offers scant protection as Amazon Japan hacks away at bookstores’ benefits: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/10/business/pricing-system-offers-scant-protection-amazon-japan-hacks-away-bookstores-benefits/#.XrlJLGhKhPZ
Japan Fair Trade Commission: https://www.jftc.go.jp/en/index.html and https://www.jftc.go.jp/en/legislation_gls/amended_ama09/index_files/The_Antimonopoly_Act_2.pdf
Photo: Matteo Artizzu on Flickr – Akihabara
Get in touch
Rising Sun Commerce help brands get set up on Amazon Japan. Please get in touch and we see if your products can be set up in Japan.
WE SPECIALIZE IN:
- Amazon Japan Listing Creation & Optimizations
- Amazon Japan Advertising
Our goal is to help brands launch and grow sales on Amazon Japan.
We want to make our pricing as clear and simple as possible, which is why we have fixed fees rather than complex commission based pricing or contact us for a quote links.
NEW LISTING SETUP OR OPTIMIZATION
$449 per product type + $30 for any additional variation
UNBOXING/ EXPLAINER VIDEO/ VOICE-OVER VIDEOS
$199 per video
ACCOUNT & ADVERTISING MANAGEMENT
$1,500/month for a maximum of 10 products
Account & Advertising management is a flat fee for 10 Parent products. For more Parent SKUs we need to discuss exactly how many we will be managing, so you will need to contact us about this.
We only have a single price point, even if you do not require all of our services.
AMAZON JAPAN LISTINGS
LISTING CREATION / OPTIMIZATION PRICING
$449 per product type (Parent ASIN) + $30 for any additional variation (Child ASIN)
EXAMPLE PRICING CALCULATION
10 x product types with each product type having 3 colour variations.
- 30 products in total, 20 of which are classed as Child variations and 10 are classed as Parents
- (10 x $449) + (20 x $30) = $5090
Having a well written and keyword rich product listing is essential because:
- Shoppers need to be able to find your product on Amazon Japan.
- When they do find you product they then need to have confidence so they buy.
See a finished result for one of our clients on Amazon Japan - https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/product/B08RS5MKW5
This was quite a complex project with a lot of size and type child variations. But the effort was definitely worth it.
The Rising Sun Commerce Amazon Japan Product Listing Process:
We gather all the information needed to fully understand your product and brand. We need to understand your products' features and benefits in fine detail so that we can hone the copy of your listing. We can use your English Amazon listings as a guide, however Amazon Japan is VERY strict in the wording you can use and often your English listings would be rejected instantly.
We conduct detailed keyword research using specialist software such as Helium10’s Cerebro tool to analyze the keywords used by your main competitors on Amazon Japan. We also use Amazon’s own Brand Analytics data to ensure we pull out all of the most important keywords. Finally, we manually read over your competitors listings to pick out common keywords.
Our optimally written product listings are professionally translated by one of Rising Sun Commerce’s experienced native Japanese listing editors who carefully integrate the keywords from the extensive keyword research process as they translate your product listings - check out Shiori’s short video where she discusses a client's listing here.
We annotate any text in your images into Japanese, because everyone knows that the images are one of the most important aspects of your Amazon Product Detail Page.
We construct an upload (AKA flat) file and upload your listings to Amazon Japan. We complete as many fields as possible in the flat file to help with Amazon indexing and categorisation. We apply any keywords that are not integrated into the product listing into the Generic Search Terms (AKA back end search terms). Uploading the flat files to your Amazon Japan account can sometimes be a smooth process, but due to Japan’s quirks and glitches this can often be a bumpy process. We guarantee that your product listings will be uploaded to Amazon Japan, even if it takes multiple Seller Support cases and multiple revisions to remove and replace text or images to satisfy the Amazon Japan gods.
We upload your Japanese specific images to Amazon Japan. This can be a complex process and often requires multiple attempts and Seller Support cases. It also requires Brand Registry access so there is additional admin required.
Any appropriate listing videos will be annotated and/ or a voice over will be applied at no extra cost. The videos will be uploaded to your listings.
Using your English A+ content as a guide we construct and upload A+ content for your product listings. Like the Product Detail Pages this can often be a tough process because Amazon Japan are irrationally picky about the words you can use. We have a database of banned words and phrases, but we are still surprised by Amazon when they pick up on a new term. Again, we guarantee your A+ content will be uploaded to Amazon Japan, no matter how long it takes.
Finally, once the listing has been on Amazon Japan for a few days we do Keyword Index Checks to make sure the listings are correctly indexed.
The video below show how we make sure your products are fully indexed on Amazon Japan.
JAPANESE UNBOXING & VOICE-OVER VIDEOS
Using one of our trusted native Japanese creators we can commission custom unboxing videos for your products.
We ensure the creators discuss the main benefits and features of your product.
Alternatively, if you have a good promotional video in English, we can replace the English voice with a professional standard Japanese voice.
Having a video on your Amazon Japan product listing is a major benefit and helps show the shopper exactly what they will get and reinforces the main product selling points.
$199 per video