Rakuten – Serious competition for eBay & Amazon

No primary category set

There’s been a lot of talk over the years whether there will ever be a serious competitor to eBay and Amazon and up until now the answer has pretty much been “No”. That’s just changed, Rakuten – a marketplace based in Japan, has just bought themselves a foot hold in the Western hemisphere by acquiring Buy.com for $250 million.

So who are Rakuten? They’re probably the biggest auction site that you’ve never heard of. They have an impressive 64 million registered members, sales of $3.2 billion in 2009 and some 50 million products listed by more than 33,000 sellers.

Rakuten Ichiba” is Japan’s largest Internet shopping mall and they have over 6,000 employees to support their businesses which also include insurance and travel.

Now why would a massively successful Japanese company buy a US based company. Well firstly Buy.com have a base of some 14 million registered members which is a very attractive base for their Japenese merchants to market to. The reverse is also true though – Merchants based in the West could be set to make sales to Rakuten’s existing customers.

Buy.com also of course have set up an operation selling in the UK. This deal opens up the possibilities of a major competitor to both eBay and Amazon in the US and in the UK. The press release from Rakuten on the acquisition has one very interesting sentence – “Buy.com presents a unique opportunity to accelerate the notion of borderless ecommerce in both directions – from East to West, and West to East.”

For those merchants with the products and infrastructure to ship to Japan there are 64 million good reasons why you should keep a very close eye on Rakuten.

6 Responses

  1. Chris,

    This might end up being the wooden stake driven through the heart of the vampire eBay.
    These people know how to get things done and the sellers they have are taken care of unlike eBay who says let the sellers be damned!
    They are experts in marketing and already have an American company Linkshare.

    Read Wingo’s blog on this, the curtain will soon be falling on the eBay drama unless Rakutan is going to buy eBay and transform it to a REAL selling platform instead of the bogus garbage that comes out of San Jose.


  2. Hi i just looked at health and beauty on this site and im not sure the search isnt very good and i saw 100% fakes so i dont think i would like my stock mixed in with that.
    Which is massive shame as ebay needs competion.

    i went to the link above is there another link for buy.com that will work for UK sellers?
    Also when is it due to be set up fully?

  3. Man I love shopping on this site, it feeds my obsession with Kimono and often empties my pockets.

    You can even use English search terms on the ‘English site’ (you might think ‘duh’ but try shopping on Yahoo Japan)

  4. This all seems a trifle premature.
    “Serious competitor to ebay and Amazon.”

    The UK division is only open to Electronics, software and Computers.

    On the contrary to being a true rival to ebay, this from their who are we page: “As part of its UK offering, Buy.com also will sell on eBay UK”

    The US site has closed categories including mine.

    The parent site Rakuten, english version is full of broken links and mainly in Japanese.

    If they are to be a rival to Amazon and ebay for that matter, why would you describe them as an auction site – the world needs another auction site like a Junkie needs another fix (they will take it, but it will do them no good)

    So ok they need watched but they have got one hell of a lot of catching up to do if they are going to make the dent your article is suggesting, and I don’t really see Amazon or Ebay letting them do that too easily.

    If there is somewhere in their world conquest plans you could point me to which contradicts this I will be amongst the first to run their way.

  5. Surely Taobao is the biggest auction site that you’ve never heard of? I can’t seem to find the numbers but I’m sure that there are more users of Taobao than Rakuten, given the amount of people in China and people everywhere use it to sell different things.

    It sounds interesting, but we’ll have to see what happens with it.



Rakuten France partners with Storfund


Rakuten partners with Uber Eats Japan


Rakuten launches online marketplace for NFTs


3PL win Rakuten Kobo e-readers distribution


Rakuten Super Logistics celebrate the perseverance of ecommerce

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars