Rakuten is a $4.6 Billion company based in Japan and is part of a wider online ecosystem, which also includes travel, banking and other services. Rakuten SuperPoints unite the sites and can be earned across them all. Rakuten has ambitious international growth plans, with marketplaces in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Brazil, US, Spain, UK, Germany and France. Fresh groceries are currently only available in Japan. RakutenMart is supported by company-owned distribution facilities and offers next day delivery and speciality gourmet foods. The company recently opened a café in Tokyo, with a menu comprising the most popular snacks sold online, together with ereaders and free Wi-Fi.
Rakuten understands online shoppers and keeps ahead of trends. Sales and special events are used to generate excitement and drive loyalty. The company also owns Kobo (e-readers), Wuaki.tv (online video streaming), Viber (social networking) and has a minority stake in Pinterest
The marketplace model is standard for online retail in Asia. What Rakuten does well is to unify the experience, offer shop-in-shops for brands and integrate new technology and social elements such as the facility to ‘shop with friends’. Rakuten’s acquisitions give the company huge potential to integrate more social, video and online content into its shopping experience.