Back in 2015, Jean-Christophe Pepino was selling several car accessories internationally from Japan, using a famous marketplace, eBay. His idea was starting from an aim to bring the Japanese car accessories to the buyers overseas.
Fast forward to 2022, Jean-Christophe (JC) and his online shop, JDM Tsurikawa, have brought amazing and unique products, including Tsurikawa to so many different countries and created incredible stories!
From the start to the recent journey of the JDM Tsurikawa, there is a bundle of things learned. This time, our team at Ship&co spoke to JC and his wife, Mami Nakada who know all about the shipping process of JDM Tsurikawa and we’re about to share their story how they started and how they manage to ship overseas, plus some insights!
Made-in-Japan Product: Tsurikawa
The e-commerce journey of JDM Tsurikawa started strong in early 2015. JC established an eBay store, sourced the car related parts in Japan and sold them overseas. With that experience, he quickly realized Tsurikawa sold particularly much better than other types of products so he pushed them more on eBay and it turned out to be very positive.
Encouraged by a growing number of international customers, a year after he started the eBay store, he had an idea to build his own online shop so he could have his own brand and rely less on the marketplace.
In an effort to start a cross-border online store business, JC established JDMTsurikawa.com shop, the very first specialized online shop to sell Tsurikawa overseas, using Shopify.
Tsurikawa (つり革) describe objects, usually suspended, that help standing passengers to keep their balance while the vehicle is in motion.
But how did this Tsurikawa become popular among international customers?
Back to the 70s and 80s, the Tsurikawa was an accessory mostly used in bike and car of Bosozoku (暴走族), a violent driving group. These people were a big social concern in Japan while at the same time, creating such a big cultural movement that it also started to get coverage from outside the country.
The interesting story behind Tsurikawa inspired JC and he wanted to share it with people living outside Japan, so he started to source this made-in-japan product and sell it overseas. “For me and for my customers, we shared the same idea that the story of Tsurikawa was fascinating”, said JC.
Starting the business at the right time… Two years after that, there was a mainstream adoption of Tsurikawa among people who love to speed, everywhere in the world. These days, Tsurikawa is a basic accessory to dress up a car.
The JDM Tsurikawa kept growing steadily and that was when his wife, Mami joined the team to help manage shipping from Japan to overseas countries better.
Shipping process was frustrating
After starting business in 2015, during the first 3 years of business, JDM Tsurikawa used a small packet service of the national postal service in Japan to ship internationally.
“We used a non-tracking shipping service to keep the shipping process affordable. At that time, we thought that it was best to offer the free shipping option to all customers”, Mami explained, however, small packet service sometimes led to a problem that customers couldn’t track the package after it was shipped.
Also, they used handwritten shipping labels. The whole shipping process consumed a lot of time they’d better spend on more important tasks. As JDM Tsurikawa shop began to scale together with the overseas cultural movement of Tsurikawa, the backend of shop became more and more busy. Shipping 10-20 packages using the handwritten labels became a frustrating and complicated task and didn't seem to be the right answer.
A Solution to Scale: Ship&co x FedEx
While the JDM Tsurikawa store was thriving, JC and Mami realized they needed a shipping solution. JC earlier learnt about Ship&co in the Shopify Meetup before but hadn’t got a chance to try out. He knew Ship&co would be a solution for the problem he was facing.
“We can use Ship&co with no commitment in the shipping volume so it was very easy to start. After using Ship&co, a process to create shipping labels has been very convenient. Only a few clicks and it’s done.”
At that time, they shifted to using International ePacket, which was also supported by Ship&co and the tracking trouble was solved. However, after the COVID-19 outbreak, Japan Post International Mail suspended the shipping service to several countries. They needed to find other shipping options. FedEx was the selected shipping option.
Printing FedEx labels from Ship&co is a piece of cake. Moreover, with FedEx, their parcel is sent out and arrives at customers’ hands faster. It usually takes around 2 days to ship from Japan to the US. “We received a lot of comments saying that our packages arrived even faster than products from the other online shops located in the US'', Mami explained.
JDM Tsurikawa now ships only with FedEx or DHL. They can simply prepare all the shipping documents needed inside Ship&co.
Simplify Shopify Store Shipping using Ship&co
“Ship&co pulls in Shopify order real-time. We no longer need a copy-and-paste task to create shipping documents. The process is now more efficient. We can save time and reduce the human-error. The complicated process to prepare a customs clearance document is fully simplified when using Ship&co. Ship&co syncs all the details needed for customs clearance like HS code and country of origin (COO) from the Shopify store. We can really finish the whole process in a matter of minutes'', said Mami.
Apart from that, “Ship&co also allows us to compare shipping rates of several carriers. We can make sure that we select the best rates and the best shipping option for the specific destination we ship to”, Mami added.
With Shopify and Ship&co integration, JDM Tsurikawa can prepare the package and ship their parcels with FedEx faster. They can simply prepare all the labels and attach it to a FedEx envelope then put the products in, at a time. With this whole new process, “I almost forget how inconvenient it was in the past”, JC and Mami mentioned in the interview.
Shipping Tips from JDM Tsurikawa
Here are a few tips from JDM Tsurikawa we want to share with you:
- Using a thermal printer - For those who ship a lot in a day, you can rent a thermal printer from FedEx.* This printer is time-saving. You can print the label of adhesive paper. No need to taping labels on the package, just peel, stick and save time.
- Check if the address is correct - If the address is wrong, you’ll have to pay a fee to reroute the packages. If the package is returned, the import fee will be applied. In cross-border selling, that is the last thing you want to happen. So, always keep in mind to check if the address format is correct. If the address seems wrong, check that with your buyers. Ship&co system syncs an address of Shopify orders and helps check if it follows the carriers’ system guidelines. However, there is a case that buyers input the wrong address. At JDM Tsurikawa, we carefully check that in order to offer the best shopping experience to all buyers as well as save time spent on an order from our end.
*There is a criteria to rent a thermal printer from FedEx, please contact your FedEx sales for more details.
As you can see, JDM Tsurikawa’s experience, selling on eBay, has brought them valuable insight for the business. Keep in mind to learn from the experience and always keep up with the changes. We hope you learn from JDM Tsurikawa’s experience and create your own incredible international shipping journey!
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