Rakuten India launch nearing

Rakuten, Japan’s equivalent of Amazon, is planning to enter India’s eCommerce sector, launching Rakuten India.

Rakuten has started luring mid-level managers from Amazon and Flipkart in India, according to the Economic Times.

Founded in 1997, Rakuten is more than an online store, offering sports and financial services, and even family planning. One in four online purchases in Japan takes place on its primary online marketplace, Ichiba, which is a higher market share than Alibaba‘s Taobao in China.

Rakuten previously had a partnership with Baidu in China.

Rakuten’s chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has been busy expanding the group’s footprint outside Japan in the past two years, mainly in the US. It has spent about US$3 billion on deals abroad since 2011, mainly focussing on companies that are not market leaders and available at lower prices.

In 2014, Rakuten bought the Cyprus-based messaging app Viber for $905 million. Last year, it led a $530 million round of funding for Uber rival Lyft, spending $300 million for a 12 per cent stake in the car-hailing app. In September, the company forked out $1 billion to buy Ebates, an online coupon service in San Francisco. The company is also present in the Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain and the UK.

Online spending in India is expected to reach nearly $75 billion by 2020 from $12.1 billion last year, as more of the country’s 1.25 billion people gain access to the internet, according to Forrester Research. Rakuten opened a development centre in Bangalore two years ago, and set up a business office last year.


Rakuten’s earlier forays into Asian eCommerce markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore did not go well, reports Deal Street Asia, and in February it announced it was shutting down its online marketplaces in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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