E-commerce platforms like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree have made it easy to find secondhand items available at a good price. This is no different in Japan, where Mercari has become a very popular e-commerce marketplace, especially for secondhand shopping. However, it is only available in Japanese. If you are looking to buy something on Mercari but are having problems placing your order, the following English-friendly guide should improve your shopping experience.
If you would like to sell on Mercari, please read "How to sell on Mercari".
Mercari is an online marketplace in Japan that largely deals in secondhand goods. Much like eBay, anyone can sign up to be a buyer or seller. Mercari is also known as a way to find exclusive merchandise at a cheaper price. Expensive items are often heavily marked down when sold on Mercari and quality standards are high. Some sellers also allow for price negotiation. This means it is possible to find some good deals and save money.
Unlike other websites that are often used for secondhand items in Japan, like Craigslist, Mercari items are always shipped rather than relying on an in-person exchange. Communication is also anonymous so there are no privacy concerns. Because of these reasons, Mercari has become a staple of online shopping for many residents of Japan.
Google Play App Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kouzoh.mercari&hl=ja
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/jp/app/id667861049?l=ja
Shopping on Mercari is pretty straightforward: register an account, select a product, and complete the purchase.
Note: The registration steps below may be slightly different when signing up through the Mercari app.
The first step is to register a profile on Mercari. You will need to sign up as a new user. You can register via email, Google, Facebook, or Apple.
At this point you will need to choose a profile name, enter your email address, and create a password that includes both letters and numbers.
The next step of registration is to provide identification information. When entering your name, the first row needs to be in hiragana, family name first followed by your given name. Then you will need to re-enter your name in katakana using the same format. Finally, you need to enter your birthday in the format of year/month/day.
Once the information has been added, click on the large red button to confirm your information.
You will be taken to a phone number verification screen where you need to enter a mobile phone number that can receive text messages. This can only be done with a Japanese phone number (starting with numbers 070, 080, or 090).
Shortly after providing the phone number, you should receive a verification text with a code that needs to be entered on the verification screen.
After this, you are now able to complete purchases on Mercari!
When searching for a product, Mercari provides a few options.
If you are in the mood to shop for anything, you can start by scrolling through the front page, which showcases popular categories and new items.
If you are looking for something specific, you can choose to search by category, brand, or search word. If you don’t know how to read Japanese well, the best option is to enter in a search word. The search can be in English, especially if the brand has an English name, but you are likely to get more relevant results by translating what you are looking for into Japanese using a translation app.
Once you have found an item you like, it is important to check the product information.
Some sellers will provide additional information about the product at the bottom of the page, including when it was bought, why it is being sold, more information about the product’s condition, and so on.
If you are happy with the product description and price, it is time to move forward to the checkout stage.
The two main payment methods are credit card (クレジットカード) or convenience store payment (コンビニ/ATM). A convenience store payment incurs a fee of ¥100, but it is a very convenient method of payment if you do not have a credit card. Bank transfers and telephone carrier payments are also available but are not as popular.
After you have chosen your payment method and entered your delivery address, it is time to press the final purchase button (the big red one). If you have chosen convenience store payment, you will see a prompt telling you the payment deadline (usually a few days in the future). You can then choose which convenience store to pay at. All the main convenience store chains in Japan offer this service among others. Most do it through the self portal in the store, although choosing the 7-11 option will give a link to a barcode that you can show the staff when checking out.
Finally, it is customary to leave a quick message for the seller, just to say thank you. Usually you will receive a note with a similar sentiment from the seller. However, this is not strictly necessary.
When buying on Mercari, it is important to be aware of a number of aspects. It is necessary to check that the product picture matches the description and condition listed. It is also important that you understand and accept conditions such as who is responsible for shipping fees, payment method, and shipping time. You are able to leave reviews on Mercari but it is in bad faith to leave a negative review based on aspects that you can check before purchase.
Mercari is an extremely useful and convenient online marketplace for secondhand shopping in Japan. There is a wide range of products available, usually in very good condition and often exclusive merchandise can be found. The only downside to Mercari is that it is available exclusively in Japanese. However, with this guide and possibly some additional translations in Google, you will be able to navigate Mercari easily and purchase any and all of the items you like.
For more guides like this in Japan, check out our shopping articles, including ordering in English on Amazon Japan, and shopping options for plus-size clothing for men and women in Japan.
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