TOKYO -- Amazon.com will help Japan's small and midsize businesses ship to 100 overseas markets through its online mall, taking care of customs and other matters for fees comparable to domestic orders.
The U.S.-based company already ships abroad from Japan for goods it sells directly. But growing interest in Japan's cosmetics and other products, spurred by rising tourism, has prompted it to offer similar services to third-party sellers, giving them a chance to make inroads in markets like the U.S. and China. Japan will be only the second country where the e-commerce leader offers those services, after its home turf.
Amazon provides inventory management and shipping services for goods handled at its warehouses. For overseas-bound goods, it will also take care of packing and air transport, plus translate product pages into languages like English and Chinese. It will even deal with inquiries about order status and returns. Buyers will bear customs and shipping costs.
Delivery times will vary by destination, with Asian markets generally taking two to three days and North America three to four. The service will exclude food products, hazardous materials that cannot be shipped by air and certain other goods.
Items from third-party sellers are believed to account for at least half of Amazon's total products shipped worldwide. The company aims to make a broader range of goods available for overseas buyers. It also expects a boost in new listings from smaller businesses that are keen to sell overseas but would have a hard time building delivery networks themselves.
Tourists appear to be helping get the word out about Japanese goods by touting items purchased there on social media. Foreign visitors to Japan grew 19% on the year to a record 28.69 million in 2017, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. This year's count looks to be trending upward as well.