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Results of the E-Commerce Market Survey was Compiled
-The domestic B to C-EC market scale has grown to 9.5 trillion yen-

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) conducted the FY2012 Research on Infrastructure Development in Japan’s Information-based Economy Society (E-Commerce Market Survey) to analyze the current state of the Japanese e-commerce market, as well as the market scale and the current state of use of trans-boundary e-commerce among Japan, the U.S. and China.

Furthermore, METI conducted a survey on the impact of social media—with its number of users surging recently—and O2O (online-to-offline) on e-commerce. The results of the research were compiled and publicized as follows.

1. E-Commerce Market Survey

The survey, which looks into trends of the e-commerce market and the current state of users, has been conducted every year since FY1998, and this was the 15th survey.

The FY2012 survey investigated continuously, as in the previous year, the scale of the B to C trans-boundary e-commerce market and trends of trans-boundary e-commerce among Japan, the U.S., and China.

1) Survey period
January 2012 to December 2012

2) Survey targets
Japan, the U.S., and China

3) Survey method
Document investigation, hearing from business operators, questionnaires to consumers, etc.

2. Summary of the survey results

1) Scale of the domestic e-commerce market

Regarding the domestic B to B-EC (business-to-business e-commerce) market for 2012, the market scale of B to B-EC in a wide sense*1 expanded to 262 trillion yen (101.7% against the previous year’s level) and in a narrow sense*1 expanded to 178 trillion yen (104.1% against the previous year’s level).

The scale of the domestic B to C-EC (business-to-consumer e-commerce) market also expanded in 2012, up to 9.5 trillion yen (112.5% against the previous year’s level). The EC ratio*2 has been on a rise (B to B-EC in a wide sense: 25.7% (up by 1.4% from the previous year); B to B-EC in a narrow sense: 17.5% (up by 1.4% from the previous year); B to C-EC: 3.1% (up by 0.3% from the previous year)) and the computerization of commercial transactions has further advanced.

Notes
*1. Domestic e-commerce is defined as follows in this survey:

  1. E-commerce in a wide sense
    Transactions that are conducted (purchase orders are issued) via computer network systems and whose contract amounts are captured also via such system. E-commerce in a wide sense includes e-commerce in a narrow sense plus conventional EDI not using VAN, dedicated lines, or the TCP/IP protocol suite (such as EDI using the JBA procedures or EIAJ procedures, etc.)
  2. E-commerce in a narrow sense
    Transactions that are conducted (purchase orders are issued) via computer network systems using Internet technologies and whose contract amounts are captured also via such systems. “Internet technologies” refers to technologies using the TCP/IP protocol suite, and include the Internet via public lines, extranet, Internet VPN, IP-VPN, etc.

*2. The EC ratio in this survey refers to the ratio of the e-commerce market scale against the total amount of the overall commercial transactions.

2) Market scale of trans-boundary e-commerce among Japan, the U.S. and China

The purchase amount in trans-boundary e-commerce by Japanese consumers from U.S. and Chinese business operators was 15.5 billion yen (106.9% against the previous year’s level), while that by U.S. consumers from Japanese and Chinese business operators was 75.7 billion yen (70.4% against the previous year’s level) and that by Chinese consumers from Japanese and U.S. business operators was 286.8 billion yen (123.0% against the previous year’s level).

The estimated scale of trans-boundary e-commerce among Japan, the U.S. and China as of 2020 is around 2.3 trillion yen at the largest, suggesting significant future potential.

3) Trends of consumers’ trans-boundary e-commerce use among Japan, the U.S. and China

The following trends were observed as a result of the survey on the trends of consumers’ trans-boundary e-commerce use in Japan, the U.S. and China:

  • Rates of consumers’ trans-boundary e-commerce use and its future trends

    Looking at consumers’ use rates of trans-boundary e-commerce among Japan, the U.S., and China, the rate in China is 57.3%, higher than those in Japan (17.6%) and the U.S. (44.7%).

    In addition, as for the rate of consumers who intend to use such e-commerce in the future, the rate of Chinese consumers who have already used it and intend to use it in the future is 86.9%, and that of those who have not used it but intend to use it in the future is 51.5%, both of which are higher than those of Japan (64.9% and 10.2%) and the U.S. (66.3% and 16.5%).

  • Rates of trans-boundary e-commerce use by consumers in the U.S. and China from Japanese business operators, and their purchase items

    Categories of main items that users of trans-boundary e-commerce in the U.S. purchased from Japanese business operators are “books, magazines, excluding electronic books downloaded from websites (29.7%),” “clothing, accessories (23.6%),” and “music and video software, including CDs and DVDs but excluding contents downloaded from websites (21.4%),” while those in China are “clothing, accessories (29.6%),” “books, magazines, excluding electronic books downloaded from websites (29.4%),” and “medicines, cosmetics (24.9%).” In both countries, the top two categories of purchase items are “books, magazines, excluding electronic books downloaded from websites” and “clothing, accessories.”

4) Impact of social media and O2O (online-to-offline) on e-commerce

The following significant points were observed as a result of the survey on the impact of social media and O2O on e-commerce:

  • Impact of social media on e-commerce
    An analysis was conducted to confirm the impact of social media on consumers focusing on the purchase processes of consumers, and the following useful points were found:
    1. As for the category “recognition of and interest in” new products and services, conventional media, mainly television, have the tendency to reach more consumers than social media. However, looking at which media have more impact on the subjects whom they reach, the impact of social media was found to be as strong as that of television.
    2. Concerning the category “comparison and examination” of products and services, the rate of consumers who use conventional media is still high, while the relative usefulness of media concerning this category turned out to have rates as high as those of television, particularly word-of-mouth websites and product-comparison websites.
    3. As for the category “purchase” of products and services, social media were confirmed to contributing consumers’ purchase of items in terms of “discovering products and services suitable for own tastes.”
  • Impact of O2O on e-commerce
    An analysis was conducted to confirm the contribution of O2O on consumers’ purchase activities so as to find the impact of O2O on consumers. As a result, it was discovered that a good number of consumers purchased desired products and services when they visit shops to buy the products and services via O2O, showing the significance of O2O.

Note: For the details of this survey, please refer to the following materials as well:

Release Date

September 27, 2013

Division in Charge

Information Economy Division, Commerce and information Policy Bureau

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