HOME ‘So Convenient!’ An Italian’s First Experience With Japan’s Online Shopping
‘So Convenient!’ An Italian’s First Experience With Japan’s Online Shopping

‘So Convenient!’ An Italian’s First Experience With Japan’s Online Shopping

Date published: 11 April 2020
Last updated: 29 September 2020

Shopping has become less and less about going to the actual shop, and more about reading reviews and getting the best product as fast as possible. So what’s that like in Japan, a place known for its high-tech and incredible service – does net shopping live up to the standards?

We interviewed an Italian woman living in Japan about her experience with online shopping in Japan. Let’s see what she had to say!

(The following reflects only the personal opinions of the interviewee)

Speedy or Slow?!

Speedy or Slow?!

“I thought it was super convenient that Wi-Fi is everywhere in places like Tokyo and Osaka. You can easily use Wi-Fi in cafes, fast food restaurants and even in libraries. It’s the same back home! So I didn’t find anything about that particularly inconvenient.”

When comparing Japan and Italy, it seems there is generally not much difference in terms of internet speed and convenience. Italy is one of the countries actively implementing the use of 5G, and the internet is generally seen as pretty good. In that sense, Japan and Italy are fairly similar.

Depending on where you come from, you might be used to making use of free Wi-Fi spots at rest spots and local shops. You may even have been able to go abroad and see the sights while making use of the country’s free Wi-Fi hotspots. However, in Japan that is not the case. Due to security concerns, there are relatively fewer Wi-Fi hotspots, so that is something to keep in mind.

In addition, the price of internet contracts in Japan is generally higher than in elsewhere, and it seems that some foreigners have had difficulty opening contracts compared to their home countries. But if you do manage to start an internet package, you can most likely make use of the high-speed internet that comes with fiber optic broadband!

Have you ever had any worries using the internet in Japan?

Have you ever had any worries using the internet in Japan?

When using the Internet anywhere in the world, one thing to keep in mind is security.

Personal information is strictly controlled in Japan, but how does it feel compared to back home?

“When I go online, there seem to be a lot of targeted ads when I’m browsing or watching videos. It’s become a bit of a problem recently, but to me it also seemed like the level of security regarding personal information is not actually that high. On the other hand, copyright measures against video fraud and bootleg movies seemed quite strict.”

One thing that happens in most places in the world is that products you have searched in the past might pop up again elsewhere, or even related products.

You might already know that this is because of internet cookies saving information from when you visit the site. Of course you can change your cookie settings, but that can sometimes result in the site not being displayed properly!

However, our interviewee got the impression that elsewhere may be more advanced than Japan in terms of security measures. But conversely, Japan seems to be tougher when it comes to cracking down on counterfeit apparel brands and pirated movies.

What do you buy online in Japan?

What do you buy online in Japan?

Online shopping has started to get more popular in Japan. It is very convenient that you can browse at home, and with a click it arrives so quick!

Bu what do foreigners who come to Japan buy online?

“Online, I buy water and other daily necessities, and household appliances. The good about that is that those things are pretty heavy and hard to lug back home. So, I buy heavy items online after checking reviews and product information.” (Italian woman)

Our Italian interviewee seemed to enjoy the convenience of getting every items online in Japan. After all, water is heavy, so it is very helpful to have it delivered to your home through online shopping.

It turns out that foreigners living in Japan are also seriously checking the shipping costs that are always related to online shopping.

So what did you buy online when you lived in your home country? Has there been any change since you came to Japan?

“In Italy, I used to order groceries from the internet. It was great for heavy items such as wine and water, or bulky items such as toilet paper. You can also exchange things and specify the delivery date.”

So, it sounds like there isn’t a huge difference between what she ordered back in Italy and what she ordered in Japan.

However, it seems that there are some more convenient services abroad that are less widely available in Japan, such as exchanging damaged items and specifying a delivery date that works for you. Many grocery delivery companies in Japan use a system where the delivery comes on a certain day every week. But a lot of them offer free shipping if it exceeds a certain amount, so online shopping is seeing a rise lately.

Did you have any problems ordering in Japan?

Did you have any problems ordering in Japan?

Although online shopping is pretty convenient, of course there’s the problem that you can’t get a feel for the product before buying it. Has that caused any problems for our interviewee?

“One thing I had a problem with was ordering clothes in Japan. I didn’t really understand the Japanese sizes. Also, this isn’t specific to Japan, but the actual product was a different color to the image online, so I’m thinking from now on I’ll buy clothes at an actual store!”

When it comes to clothes, it might be best to try them on and get a real feel for them first. And of course Japanese sizes are quite different to back home – you might that something labelled as an M in Japan feels more like what would be an S back home!

This seems to particularly be a problem with clothes, but the way that products are displayed online might be quite different to reality!

What’s more is that returns and refunds are not a given at all shops in Japan. If it is possible, you’ll also need to keep in mind the language barrier, which can make the complicated procedure even more daunting!

Strong and convenient!

It looks like our Italian interviewee didn’t have too much difficulty with shopping online in Japan!

Although our previous interviewees have expressed dissatisfaction with fees and security aspects, in general using the internet and online shopping in Japan seems to be as convenient and as easy as elsewhere. Time to get some retail therapy!

Written by Kazuhisa Tsukahara, translated by Cassandra Lord

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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