Rakuten: Japanese E-commerce Travels to Global Horizons

I think I wouldn’t be here without the awesomeness of mixing travel with business. Getting to explore the world, even through business meetings is much better than nothing. It gives you an opportunity to meet new people while earning money to travel even more. This opportunity is something that needs to be taken as no one will serve it to you on a plate.

Rakuten Global English Language Blog

A proud example from the online commerce of the Japanese, is a less known but greater than life kind of business. Without further ado, let the Mexican introduce to you.

Rakuten, an Internet company based in Tokyo, runs one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, known as Rakuten. This e-commerce platform launched in 1997, at about the same time other major e-commerce platforms were launching in Silicon Valley.

Globally, they offer over 95 million products from over 40,000 merchants using a wide variety of different e-commerce platforms. However, Rakuten Ichiba, based in Japan, remains the company’s flagship e-commerce platform and the largest e-commerce platform in Japan.

Similar to other popular global e-commerce platforms, the store features a wide array of products arranged via categories. Current categories include computers & office, electronics, fashion & beauty, video games, books, movies, travel & music, home & household, health & fitness, and toys. As of 2015 they include virtual storefronts for over 10,000 specialty merchants from Japan, who ship to 170 countries worldwide.

Going forward, it is likely that Rakuten will continue to diversify internationally, especially in key markets such as the U.S. In 2005, Rakuten entered the U.S. market via its acquisition of popular e-commerce site Buy.com for $250 million in order to compete with Amazon.com and eBay in selling high-quality, unique merchandise. In 2013, Buy.com was re-branded as Rakuten.com. Currently, it includes 5,500 shop owners, 24 different categories of products and 18 million shoppers.

There is now a greater focus on shipping internationally as well as a greater focus on making products available to the English-speaking audience. In 2012, with the increasing demand from not just locals but travels and foreigners, Rakuten made the decision to make English the official language of the company. The ambitious work of Rakuten.co.jp English have been recorded as some of the first, and biggest efforts for a Japanese company to make the brand more accessible to the English-speaking world.

The company continually looks for new ways to make the shopping experience as rewarding as possible for buyers and shoppers. A particular focus is on the concept of “shopping as entertainment.” Another key selling point is the fact that people are “buying from people, not the Internet.”

One way to attract and retain consumers is through the use of “Rakuten Super Points,” which are accrued after a specific number of purchases. This encourages people to check out other storefronts. In addition, the company has focused on typical e-commerce promotions – such as flash sales and daily deals – to make the site competitive with its rivals.

For now, Rakuten remains the largest e-commerce platform in Japan and one of the global leaders in the field of online commerce, largely through an interlocking network of other Internet affiliates and companies that are part of the company’s vast Internet holdings in areas ranging from banking to travel. There are indeed reasons to be “optimistic” about their future as the name of the company suggest. The word Rakuten meaning “optimism” in Japanese.


  1. Smart thinking Jose! For someone who loves to travel and embraces the global world every second.. this tip came in very handy. Japanese are evolved and we should look up to them for many things. Cheers to that I say!


    1. Thank you! I always like to evolve the sacred art of travel. Glad to hear you liked my post and watch our for more goodies of course! =)


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