Back from Japan

Internet definitely became a part of Japanese people’s everyday life, but what’s actually happening and what’s the difference between US Internet market and Japanese Internet market? This is what I saw and heard during my last visit to Japan.

I just came back from a little short of 3 weeks Japan trip. Everywhere I went, it seemed that Internet has become more and more a part of Japanese people’s lives. The search box was still very popular in ads. The QR code seemed to completely took over the bar-code as it was used on food packages, on appliance labels, etc. I even saw it on business cards!

The Internet penetration rate in Japan is very high (70%). However, especially in a country side and for older generations, it can still be a little intimidating. To help these people using Internet, I saw places like City Hall, Legal Affairs Bureau and Tax Agency set up several PCs in the office for people to file paper works online with the assistance of office staffs.

I also realized that something never change. E-mail may replaced written letters in many cases, but in occasions like weddings and funerals, it’s still very important to many people to follow the traditional manners. The problem is that younger generations have no idea of how to go about it, and that’s when Internet comes in handy. In fact, those how-to websites in the special occasions and forums are very popular in Japan. You don’t want to give only 5,000yen, when you are expected to give 10,000yen, and make sure that a ribbon on the package points the right way. People are going to talk, and you know how quickly those talks would spread!

One day at a restaurant, I saw a discount info on a table. In US, it’s too late for that day, and hope to remember to access the site to print out a coupon for the next time. But in Japan, you can scan the QR code on the discount ad on a table with your cell phone, and show what comes up at the register to receive the discount. In many occasions, I was reminded how Japanese businesses were willing to make things easier for customers. To be successful in Japanese market, improving the usability of your website is definitely one of the key points.