How to sell things on Mercari Japan - a Beginner's Guide - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, February 4, 2018

How to sell things on Mercari Japan - a Beginner's Guide

If you're living in Japan you might have heard about the latest big hit application Mercari - メルカリ in Japanese - an application that allows you to buy or sell items directly from other users. This can be both products you've used for ages or even those funky pink flashy shoes your aunt got you for your bday that you never put on even once. In short, whatever you have lying around that you don't think you're gonna use might as well get a second life through Mercari - as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. In this post, I'll give a brief introduction to Mercari and share 3 tips for increasing the chances of your product getting bought.

What is Mercari? A short introduction

Mercari is an application you can use to buy or sell items directly from or to other customers, the so-called C2C model.
It doesn't cost anything to post your items, but if someone buys one of your items a 10% Mercari commission fee will be deducted from your sales. Listing something on the app is easy, you can list an item in less than 3 minutes.
The application itself can be downloaded from the Apple store (link here). It is free to sign up, and there's no monthly fees or commissions charged for credit card usage on the application.

The Friend Referral Code

When you download the application and register your account you'll have the chance to enter your friend referral code. By entering the code you get a lucky draw where you can win up to 10,000 points (worth the same amount in yen). If you have friends already using the app you can ask them to share their referral code, but if not I would be happy if you'd use my code: JVFXMB

3 Basic Steps for Selling your Product

When you've downloaded the application the next step is to post your product.
You can easily post an item in less than 3 minutes, but if you want to increase your chances of getting a sale here are 3 points to keep in mind when writing your post:

  1. Write a detailed product description
  2. Take clear and good product photos
  3. Set a competitive price
Above: Example of a product description page

【Point 1】Write a detailed product description

This can be tricky assuming that Japanese is not your mother tongue, but having a detailed title can make a big difference as to whether people will look at your product or not. Since you're selling directly to customers who haven't seen your product in person you better make sure that your description is easy to understand and gives a clear image of what the buyer will get from your product.

Product Title:
Writing an informative title is crucial to getting the right viewers, and the first 13 letters in the title get most exposure so you should add the most important keywords first!
Below are some keywords you can consider adding to the beginning of your title:

[Brand name] Nike / Gucci or whatever
[Model number] HV61720
[Condition] 美品 / 新品 / 未使用
[Targeted gender] 女性用 / 男性用
[Seasonality] 夏物 / 冬物
[Product size]
[Sale] SALE / セール
[Free shipping] 送料無料 / 送料込み

Product Description:
As a detailed description makes it easier for potential customers to find your product you would want to give as many details as possible. Some information to include could, for instance, be the size, specifications or condition of the product. You should be especially careful if you sell a used product - again, a lot of Japanese people go into the tiniest detail and what you might consider an insignificant stain might lead to an angry customer and a negative review. Better be as open as possible (if the product has been used you might almost want to exaggerate about how "horribly dirty" your product is even when there are no visible damages in your eyes) rather than taking any risks. Here are some example sentences you can use to describe your product.

This is an XX that is easy to carry

I used this item for XX

I only used it once, so it is almost as good as new

I used the product 2-3 times. It doesn't have any noticeable damages or stains, but it is still second-hand so people who are nervous about such are kindly asked to refrain from buying.

It is probably not anything significant, but I've set the condition of the product to "has damages and stains". Please be understanding as this is a second-hand product.

Please note that this product is old and has a few damages.

【Point 2】Take clear and good product photos

A clear and good photo of your product can help it stand out from your competitors. As you know, the potential customers cannot see your product directly, so the photos should show the product from different angles and if there is any damage to your product you would want to include such photos as well to avoid any unsatisfied customers later. On the other hand, if you don't show the product from different angles the customer might suspect that you are hiding a damage to the product. One product can display a total of 4 photos, so if possible also include photos of tags or other things that can be of additional information to the people looking at your product. One way to improve the quality of your photos can be to utilize an application and try to apply some filters.

【Point 3】Set a competitive price

In advance of posting your items, you should search around a bit using similar keywords to see what price other similar products are getting in order to set a competitive price. It is quite common for potential buyers to leave you comments asking you to lower your price, but remember that customers can see the history of your previous transactions. If you make a habit out of accepting their proposal it might lead to potential customers believing that you're easy-going when it comes to regular price making it harder to get your asking price. As time goes your item will drop in ranking, so if the product hasn't been sold within 4 days you might as well delete it and register it anew.

Somebody bought my item. Now what?

Anybody who has experience with the Japanese business style knows that people get into the tiniest details (sometimes to the level of frustration for foreign outsiders like me). Many customers would expect that you treat them no less than the treatment they would get in a Japanese store. To make things easier, here are some phrases you can use to send to your customer before and after the sale has been completed:


If you're waiting for confirmation from Mercari that the customer has paid:


(Mr/Ms xx, thank you for your purchase. I will send the product as soon as the payment has been confirmed. Thank you!)


When you've confirmed that the customer has finalized the payment:

(Thank you for your purchase. I will send the product shortly. Thank you!)


As mentioned it is common to go into the tiniest detail when you're doing business in Japan. Once the item has been shipped you might want to send your customer the following phrase:

(I sent the product today!)


Honestly speaking I think people here use way too much time to go into detail with every little thing when it comes to business reporting etc. I'm what you can call a 面倒くさがり (a person who tries to avoid troublesome things) and would probably skip one or two of the steps above because I find doing all of it a slight waste of time. But either way, if you want to do it the proper Japanese way you better send the customer one final message when the Mercari application sends you a notification saying the customer got your product.

(Thank you again for your purchase!)


Once you've finished selling the item you better keep in mind that your profits can only be claimed for 3 months, so you better make sure to finish the procedures to get your money within the set time frame. You can either have the money transferred to your bank account or convert it to points to use on Mercari. Remember, using the money to buy something on Mericari doesn't come with any extra commission but the minimum amount of money you need to withdraw the money without extra commission is 10,000 yen. If the amount you have in sales is less then that, you'll have to pay a 210 yen fee for withdrawing your money.

That's all for now, thanks for reading!
Please feel free to leave me comments or questions in the comment box below and I'll try my best to answer!

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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