TAKKT OPENED ITS JAPANESE OFFICE IN CHIBA, LOCATED SOUTHEAST OF TOKYO, IN 2003. (The operation was not affected by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.) So what has Takkt learned about doing business in Japan?
One important difference in Japan, Zimmermann notes, is that personal contact is often required before prospects are willing to do business with the company. Japanese employees operate within informal support groups called inner circles. Part of an inner circle can be the family or also individuals with whom someone may have started his or her career. If a supplier does not penetrate this inner circle and gain its trust, it is difficult to conduct business with individuals within it.
Another difference lies in the fact that Japanese users are more advanced in terms of the Internet, Zimmermann adds. “Navigation patterns on the web are different from those observed in the West. Those differences caused the company to modify some details of its business model in Japan.” For example, Takkt decided to use an Internet system designed specifically for Japan.
The Internet is an effective tool for acquiring new customers, while catalogs are used to generate business with existing customers in Japan, Zimmermann says. “We are targeting small- and medium-size businesses more intensely in Japan.”