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Bye, bye, Rakuten.de

Why Rakuten strikes the sails in Germany

 

The Japanese giant retailing company Rakuten decided to close its German E-Commerce subsidiary, Rakuten.de. As of 15 October, Rakuten.de doesn’t accept new orders any longer. The announcement came a few months after Rakuten decided to shut down its US subsidiary, buy.com.

What is Rakuten?

If you’re not thoroughly familiar with the world of E-Commerce or Asian marketplaces, you may wonder what Rakuten is. 

Founded in 1997, Rakuten is a Japanese online retailing company. Besides E-Commerce, Rakuten is active in many other industries like banking, digital content streaming, and financial technology (fintech). Currently, the company has over 70 subsidiaries and around 1.4 billion members worldwide.

Why is Rakuten closing some of its global subsidiaries?

According to the official announcement, the company came to this decision after Rakuten.de failed to secure a “relevant share in the German e-commerce market.” Even though Rakuten.de was the fifth largest online seller in Germany with its 5,500 retailers and 4.5 million customers, the company decided it was not enough to keep its subsidiary in business.

It’s not only Rakuten.de that the Japanese parent company decided to shut down. Earlier this year, Rakuten closed its US marketplace, formerly known as buy.com, as well as Rakuten Global Market, a marketplace dedicated to shipping Japanese products from Rakuten Ichiba worldwide. 

The main reason behind these closures appears to be Rakuten’s need to focus on its domestic offerings, as well as its other areas of operations. Rakuten’s major global services - other than retailing - include digital communications (Viber), content streaming (VIKI and Rakuten TV), banking (Rakuten Europe Bank), digital content publishing and mobile apps (Rakuten Aquafadas), Advertising, e-books (Kobo), and business insights (Intelligence). 

Rakuten’s future in Germany

Despite Rakuten.de’s closure, Rakuten will not completely disappear from German E-Commerce. Just like in the UK or Spain, Club R will remain operational and let merchants continue their work in an open marketplace model.

Furthermore, Rakuten.de promises to support its sellers throughout the whole transition process. This is especially important for orders registered before, but fulfilled after 15 October. Merchants were directly notified about this support regarding fulfilling and returning orders by Rakuten.de.

From now on, Rakuten aims to concentrate its resources in Germany on more promising areas with potentially higher market shares. This means that other providers in the Rakuten group, including Rakuten TV, Aquafadas, Kobo, Viber, and the innovation-focused Rakuten Institute of Technology will continue their operations in Germany.

Counterfeits on Rakuten

In the Japanese market, Rakuten sells both international and Japanese products. The most popular categories include apparel, home, and food products.

As on other global online marketplaces, counterfeiting is present on Rakuten as well. To fight counterfeiting, the company uses a score system for its merchants that lists any violations against counterfeit regulations. 

Rakuten can impose monetary penalties on its merchants, and even kick them off the marketplace if they’re found guilty of counterfeiting. Artificial intelligence and a team dedicated to the issue aid Rakuten in its fight against counterfeits.

While this is very reassuring, it may not be enough for companies whose products are counterfeited and/or sold without their permission on Rakuten. In cases like these, the best solution for companies is to engage a brand protection expert like globaleyez. Why? 

Rakuten’s actions against counterfeiting are, understandably, general and broad. A giant marketplace like that usually doesn’t have the bandwidth, the time, nor the inclination to pay sufficient attention to every single counterfeiting issue. However, these individual issues may cause great harm and loss of revenue to the companies concerned. 

In contrast, globaleyez focuses on exactly these issues. With our own software tools like infrimage and traxster, we are able to track down small counterfeit sellers, grey marketers, and even copyright infringers who use your images without your consent. If you want more than general protection against counterfeiting that Rakuten and other giant marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Wish, or even Google and Facebook can provide, reach out to us via our contact form and find out how we can help you.

While counterfeiting is a serious issue on several marketplaces including Rakuten, it’s not the main reason for Rakuten.de’s closure.

Rakuten and E-Commerce

With 40.28 million regular users and a 20.1% share of the market, Rakuten Ichiba is the second biggest online marketplace in Japan. In comparison, the market leader Amazon is only slightly ahead of Rakuten with its 40.79 million users and 20.2% market share

Starting in 2005, Rakuten has expanded its operations into the global market. Currently, the company is present in 30 countries, and can boast of an annual revenue of 1.26 trillion Japanese Yen (about 10.14 billion EUR).

Rakuten is ranked the 831st among the world’s largest global companies, and its net worth is currently 15.12 billion USD (ca. 12.74 billion EUR). 

Conclusion

Competition is increasing in virtually all markets today, and even the largest companies are not immune to it. Rakuten’s example shows that a refocusing of resources is sometimes inevitable if you want to remain successful, or in the worst cases, in business at all.

Next to fierce competition, counterfeiting is among the many issues that make life challenging for businesses today. While marketplaces do their best to help businesses in their fight against fakes and copyright infringement, there’s only so much they can do. 

If you want real protection against counterfeiters, grey marketers, and other dishonest actors on the market, contact us at globaleyez and find out how we can help you.

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