July 30, 2021
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) conducted the FY2020 Industrial Economic Research Commissioned Project (E-Commerce Market Survey) to analyze the current state of the Japanese e-commerce (EC) market. It has now compiled the results into a report.
1. Summary of the survey results
(1) Scale of the domestic EC market (business-to-consumer [B-to-C] and business-to-business [B-to-B])
In 2020, the scale of the domestic B-to-C EC market remained almost flat at 19.3 trillion yen (down by 0.43% from 19.4 trillion yen in the previous year). In addition, the scale of the domestic B-to-B EC market decreased to 334.9 trillion yen (down by 5.1% from 353.0 trillion yen in the previous year).
Calls to stay home and use EC in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant market expansion in the merchandising sector. On the other hand, the market scale in the service sector decreased significantly, mainly due to shrinkage experienced by travel services. As a result, the significant growth in the merchandising sector was offset by a significant decrease in the service sector, and the scale of the B-to-C EC market as a whole decreased by 83 billion yen. This was the first time the scale of the B-to-C EC market did not increase since the beginning of this market survey.
Meanwhile, the EC ratio*1 was 8.08% (up by 1.32 percentage points from the previous year) for B-to-C EC and 33.5% (up by 1.8 percentage points from the previous year) for B-to-B EC, showing an increasing trend and continuous progress in the computerization of commercial transactions.
The scale of the B-to-C EC market by sector is as shown below:
A. Merchandising sector
In the merchandising sector, "domestic electrical appliances, AV equipment, and PCs and peripherals" (2.3489 trillion yen), "clothes and apparel goods" (2.2203 trillion yen), "food, drinks, and liquor" (2.2086 trillion yen), and "household goods, furniture, and interior" (2.1322 trillion yen) account for large shares. The total of these top four categories accounts for 73% of the merchandising sector. In addition, the market scale in all categories expanded enormously due to the impact of COVID-19 stay-home consumption.
The EC ratios were high for "books, and visual and music software" (42.97%), "domestic electrical appliances, AV equipment, and PCs and peripherals" (37.45%), and "household goods, furniture, and interior" (26.03%). For example, with "domestic electrical appliances, AV equipment, and PCs and peripherals," the product specifications are clear and it is easy to understand the details and features of the products by researching (searching on the internet for) them in advance. In this regard, they are highly compatible with EC. Also, with "furniture and interior," there are specific needs regarding size and color depending on the circumstances in each household. This makes them compatible with EC, which has no limitations on retail space or stock.
B. Service sector
In the service sector, "travel services" (1.5494 trillion yen) accounted for the largest share. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the market scales of "travel services," "eating and drinking services," and "ticket sales" drastically decreased.
C. Digital sector
In the digital sector, "online games" (1.4957 trillion yen) accounted for the largest share. The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to have been behind the expansion of the "online games," "paid video distribution," and "paid music distribution" markets, by causing more consumers to stay home and increasing demand for stay-home services, etc.
(2) Scale of the domestic EC market (consumer-to-consumer [C-to-C])
In recent years, the C-to-C EC market*2 has been dramatically expanding as an EC channel. In light of this trend, METI has estimated the scale of the market in Japan since the 2016 survey.
The scale of the C-to-C EC market in 2020 is estimated to be 1.9586 trillion yen (up by 12.5% from the previous year). As with the B-to-C EC market, one of the reasons posited to be behind the market scale expansion is that users of C-to-C EC increased as calls to stay home and use EC in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic caused the merchandizing sector's EC market to expand.
(3) Market scale of cross-border EC between Japan, the U.S., and China
In 2020, the market scale of cross-border EC between Japan, the U.S., and China, increased in all of three of countries. In particular, the amount purchased through cross-border EC by Chinese consumers was 1.9499 trillion yen from Japanese business operators (up by 17.8% from the previous year) and 2.3119 trillion yen from U.S. business operators (up by 15.1% from the previous year), continuing the previous year's increasing trends.
2. Outline of the E-Commerce Market Survey
This survey has been conducted every year since FY1998 with the aim of discovering trends in the EC market and the current situation regarding its users. This was the 23rd survey.
In addition to the domestic market scale of business-to-consumer, business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer EC, the survey has also been investigating the market trends in B-to-C cross-border EC (between Japan, the U.S., and China).
See the document below for more details about the survey.
Division in Charge
Digital Market Policy Office, Digital Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau