Kakaku.com: Japan’s price comparison king



This is part of our ‘Japanese internet in-depth’ series (RSS). Stay tuned for more features that aim to explain what makes the internet unique in Japan.

Japanese price comparison site Kakaku.com is a pretty essential tool for shoppers in Japan, whether you do your shopping online or offline. While sites like Rakuten or Amazon Japan are among the most likely online retail destinations, along with countless other lesser known e-commerce options. But in order to find out where the cheapest option is, Kakaku is your spot. From a business perspective, Kakaku.com essentially offers both price comparison listing (for which it charges a fee) and free product listing/aggregation.

But from a consumer perspective, what I find to be Kakaku’s best feature is its categorized product ranking. While this is a somewhat common features among product-centered sites these days, Kakaku executes it well, essentially removing any of the worry you might have that you’ll buy the wrong product. If it’s the top product or an editor’s choice than it’s pretty safe bet that you’ve made a good selection [1]. Kakaku has a decent mobile site too, so I find myself checking on prices even while in stores sometimes. The company does offer a bar code search app, although I have yet to give that a try.

bar code
Photo: Gigazine

The other useful feature of Kakaku is that it shows you recent price fluctuations via a line chart that shows both lowest and average price over time. So if you have a big purchase planned this is something you might keep your eye on, to make sure you’re buying at the right time. There are even some apps out there that will send you an alert when the price falls below a certain threshold.

Another major use of Kakaku is its kuchikomi user reviews. This is where users provide feedback about various products, giving you a little more insight into products you’d like to buy. To get a better idea about Kakaku’s web interface, check out this video overview that I made a little while back [2].

The company has a pretty extensive repertoire of Facebook pages which really help if you’d like to stay up to date on new products in a certain category. For example, I like to keep an eye on new cameras that hit the market, and Kakaku’s camera page is great for this.

Kakaku also has a number of interesting subsidiaries that you might be familiar with, including food-focused site Tabelog, Japanese movie information site eiga.com as well as travel-focused price comparison site 4travel.jp.

Interestingly Kakaku has been looking to offer its price comparison service in foreign markets, with sites already established and operating in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines under the PricePrice.com umbrella. It will be interesting to see which markets the company looks to next.

Also relevant in the price comparison space is Aucfan which helps consumers find the best available prices on online auction sites.

  1. For example, I just bought a bathroom scales yesterday. What do I know about which is the best bathroom scales? Absolutely nothing. But by going with the top ranked scales on Kakaku I know I got decent value.  ↩

  2. While this video is a little dated by now, it still serves as a good illustration since the website hasn’t changed too much.  ↩