Reports suggest that Rakuten are closing down their U.S. marketplace formally known as buy.com and although no exact date has been provided, will be winding down their services over the next two months. Customers will still be able to place orders on the site for the next two months before they close for good. Fear not though, their affiliate site will remain open just as it did in the UK.
Rakuten have a bit of a reputation for the sudden closure of their services so this announcement comes as no surprise. In 2016 they announced they would be closing Rakuten.co.uk, formally known as play.com just a month after announcing that they had streamlined sign up for sellers and then confirmed that their sites in Spain and Austria would be closing too. It seems that replacing the brand of a successful online store with their own has become something of a bad omen for Rakuten. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Rakuten bought Buy.com in 2010 amongst other ecommerce retailers and marketplaces. Established in Japan they also aimed to conquer Europe with Tradoria (Rakuten.de), Play.com (Rakuten.co.uk), Buy.com (Rakuten.com) and Priceminister.fr (Rakuten.fr) and out of that list, only two remain in operation as marketplaces rather than affiliate sites (Rakuten.de & Rakuten.fr) It looks like their rebranding choices, evolving market, aggressive growth and competition all led to declining business and impending doom. Perhaps they remained too close to their roots with a brand and system that worked well in Japan but not so well in other countries.