Rakuten to launch e-commerce in Malaysia

Rakuten, Japan’s e-commerce giant, plans to launch an online shopping mall in Malaysia to be called Rakuten Online Shopping.

The service will introduce consumers in Malaysia to “an entirely new and unique online shopping experience”, the company says.

Rakuten is currently recruiting merchant partners to populate its online shopping mall leading up to its launch in late 2012.

Rakuten Online Shopping will focus on offering local and international goods to consumers in Malaysia while employing Japan’s customer service standards. Rakuten Online Shopping expands Rakuten’s footprint in southeast Asia, marking its third e-commerce market entry in the region, following Tarad.com in Thailand in 2009, and Indonesia’s Rakuten Belanja Online in 2011.

“The Rakuten shopping experience brings the best of both worlds to consumers and merchants,” said Rakuten Online Shopping president and CEO Masaya Ueno.

“We empower merchants with the platform, tools and know-how they need to run successful online businesses. We also enable them to customise their storefronts to maximise their own brand appeal and allow them to communicate directly with their customers. This flexibility and interaction bring the online shopping experience to life and puts the fun back in shopping.”

In 1997, Rakuten launched a pioneering e-commerce platform, Rakuten Ichiba, in Japan, that utilises a business to business to consumer (B2B2C) model, whereby merchants build online storefronts on the marketplace and sell directly to consumers. This unique model empowers consumers and merchants alike and has driven Rakuten to become the world’s third largest e-commerce company by revenue.

Ueno explained, “Malaysia is an attractive market owing to its economic stability and well-equipped infrastructure for the development of e-commerce, including internet, logistics and online payment facilities. Malaysia market growth and encouraging online shopping trends present Rakuten with a bright opportunity in this market.”

“The market indications validate our timely entry into the market. At this initial phase, Rakuten seeks to partner mid-sized and large retailers across industries in Malaysia including fashion and apparel, IT and electronics, books and luxury goods,” added Ueno. “We aim to foster continued e-commerce growth in Malaysia by transferring our knowledge and helping retailers to make online shopping a truly viable and sustainable business, leveraging on our 15 years of e-commerce expertise.”

Malaysia is a growing market that boasts a very high internet penetration rate among the ASEAN countries, and the online shopping market is set to grow at an accelerated pace in the future. Internet retailing reached RM842 million (US$267.05 million) in 2011 and the number is expected to exceed RM1.9 billion (US$602.60 million) by 2016.

Last week Rakuten led a $100 million capital injection round in fast-growing social networking site Pinterest.


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