Web address: Rakuten.co.jp
The fourth biggest online marketplace in the world Rakuten is the largest and dominating ecommerce marketplace in Japan whilst also having a presence in several other countries with a reported membership of 105 million. Although it is notably absent from the UK, they are keen to get UK retailers and merchants onto the site and selling to the Japanese population of 127 million.
Tamebay spoke to Rakuten last year and published this video abut selling on the marketplace:
One of the most challenging aspects of selling on Rakuten Japan will be the need for a local partner to help you on several levels, depending on your needs. You’ll need a local agent to provide you with the legal and financial entity in Japan necessary to trade on Rakuten. Rakuten suggests some of these firms including Brangista, Café 24, EC Robo, I-Order and TransCosmos. They can also help with logistics and provide fulfilment services and take returns. Obviously these are providers that represent an additional expense so be sure to factor that into your business plan.
Seller registration and requirements
You will need to apply to Rakuten for approval to sell on the site and be the brand owner of the goods you sell or have demonstrable proof that you have permission to sell your goods. It is fair to say that selling on Rakuten Japan is not cheap. There is a one-off registration fee of ¥60,000 JPY (that’s a just over £400 at time of writing). Then there is a monthly fee to maintain your shopfront presence and here are the 4 levels with ascending expense offering more features and greater prominence as the price increases.
- Entry Plan (JPY 19,500)
- Lite Plan (JPY 39,800)
- Standard Plan (JPY 50,000)
- Mega-Shop Plan (JPY 100,000)
And then there are the selling commissions which clock in at between 8% and 12%, depending on the category.
Product listings and fulfilment
You can upload your listings and product information using the API, CSV files or directly via the seller dashboard service they provide. But you’ll need some sort of Japanese expertise (either via your third party support or in house) at your disposal to make sure that your listings are properly translated, localised and optimised.
Rakuten requires merchants to fulfil orders. It’s likely that you’ll need to do that with the help of your local service provider.
Tamebay’s take on the Rakuten Japan marketplace
Rakuten Japan wants to recruit the right sort of British merchants but it is not for everyone. For some merchants the lure of the big spending Japanese market, that is thirsty for British goods in some verticals, does prove irresistible. Most likely, those merchants who are considering Japan will be bigger and experienced international traders already.
If you’re thinking about Japan, or want to test out the viability of selling there with some trial sales, (assuming that your products are relevant and permitted) then it’s likely that Amazon Japan is a better starting point and offers management tools in English. It will certainly prove to be less expensive to begin with.