Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the retailing industry in Japan, in order that marketing managers employed by overseas companies contemplating entering the Japanese market are able to devise successful market entry strategies.
Design/methodology/approach – A literature review, and an analysis and interpretation of several interlinked bodies of knowledge was conducted.
Findings – The retailing sector in Japan is both complex and well established. Managers in Japanese companies understand the necessity to market innovatory products, relate to customer expectations, and establish sustainable business relationships based on trust. The multi-layered distribution system in Japan dictates the role of each member of the marketing channel and in order to succeed, an overseas company will need to exhibit a high degree of specialization. New market opportunities are evolving and those that enter the market will need to work closely with all their channel partner members and various government representatives.
Research limitations/implications – Managers based in overseas companies will need to undertake research into how Japanese companies produce innovatory products; how they research specific industry sectors; how they organize their marketing intelligence activities; and how they engage in information sharing and exchange.
Practical implications – Managers based in overseas companies will need to develop long-term mutually oriented, sustainable business relationships with their counterparts in Japanese companies, and this may require a change in organizational culture and the adoption of new business practices.
Originality/value – The paper provides a number of insights into retailing practices in Japan and an overview of the electronics industry.