Last year, China unseated Japan as the region’s leading luxury market. Even before this changing of the guard took place, however, you could sense the shift was approaching just from looking at luxury brands’ site investments. Today, an impressive 96 of the 100 global luxury brands included in our new Digital IQ Index: Japan study currently maintain local Chinese-language sites. Despite the fact that Japan boasts the highest e-commerce penetration in the Asian region, just 87 percent of brands offer a Japanese equivalent. With 45 percent of global brands there offering direct-to-consumer e-commerce, an additional five brands (Origins, SK-II, Chloé, Dior, Marc Jacobs) linking directly to online retail partners, and a solid 39 percent of high-end fashion brands already e-commerce enabled, Japan’s online consumer apparatus is on par with that of EU-5 nations’ like France and Germany.
And yet the functionality on the majority of brands’ localized Japan sites remains rudimentary, often lacking anything more than a basic store locator. In the infographic below, we offer some figures:
Even though Japan boasts some of the largest and most engaged social media communities in the world, just over half of the brand sites analyzed in our study support sharing via social media–and less than one-tenth connect to popular Japanese social network Mixi. In terms of customer service, just 50 percent of brand sites offer a local dedicated customer service number and only nine allow ratings and reviews. Louis Vuitton, which came in ninth (this report only ranked the Top 10 brands), is the sole brand to provide Japanese shoppers with a live chat option. More advanced site functionality like product customization is predictably scarce, with just four brands in the Fashion and Watches & Jewelry verticals offering the service–and only two, Burberry and Pandora, allowing the shopper to purchase their custom creations. Hotel brands fared better as an industry with almost all of those we assessed translating their international property pages into Japanese to facilitate booking. But just as it is with other prestige categories, when it comes to anything beyond site basics, functionality drops off quickly and steeply.