Language Issues

Finding Japanese Distributors Using Government Services

Many clients come to us after unsuccessfully trying to find Japanese sales partners using the matchmaking services provided by government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, UK Department for International Trade, The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Austrade, German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, and Switzerland Global Enterprise. Why are these government agencies rarely successful in helping foreign companies connect with the right Japanese distributors or sales agents? I’ve talked with dozens of clients from all around the world about …

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Japanese Distributors – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I sell my products in Japan? I don’t speak a word of Japanese or have any connections in Japan. Almost all foreign products sold in the Japanese market go through specialized distributors (importers). These companies handle importation, marketing and promotion of your products, warehousing, and local support. They typically purchase your products at a discount and then resell at a higher price to retailers, wholesalers, and even end-users in some industries. These distributors work closely with the foreign …

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Best Way To Contact Japanese Distributors If You Don’t Speak Japanese

Some “experts” on doing business in Japan say that cold calling Japanese companies doesn’t work. They insist that the only effective way to approach these companies is through a personal introduction. This is nonsense. We’ve contacted hundreds of Japanese distributors on behalf of clients and find most very interested in hearing about products that complement the brands that they are already carrying. This makes sense if you stop to think about it. Any savvy distributor knows that the best way …

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How To Evaluate Japanese Distributors

When evaluating Japanese distributors, it’s easy to ignore companies that don’t have much English on their websites. This is a big mistake! In my experience, there is NO relationship between having an English-language site and being an effective distributor. This is because the best distributors are focused on their Japanese customers, not on attracting foreign companies who want to do business with them. And, as I discussed yesterday, if a company is already distributing one or more non-Japanese products, they …

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Do Japanese Distributors Speak English?

Clients also often ask whether they’ll have trouble communicating with potential Japanese distributors and agents and wonder if they’ll need an interpreter or translator to do business in Japan. In our experience, this isn’t necessary because distributors that are already importing and distributing foreign products almost always have employees who can speak English.   For smaller companies, this is usually the president or sales manager. In larger firms, there will be one or more employees assigned the task of working …

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