Rakuten shutting down German marketplace

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According to reports Rakuten will be shutting down their 10-year-old German platform just months after the closure of their U.S. marketplace due to challenges faced with the business making a relevant market presence.

Rakuten.de will be closing down and no longer accepting new orders from the 15th of October. Reports also suggest that similar to in Spain and the UK the German site will become a Club R platform.

“On our open e-commerce platform, our customers can browse offers from hundreds of retailers and brands and collect Rakuten Points, which they can exchange for films on Rakuten TV, shopping credit at major brands and much more. In this way, the new platform will be fully integrated into our Rakuten ecosystem.”
– Arjen van De Vall. President Europe at Rakuten, the principle

Just a couple of months after they announced they would be closing down their U.S. marketplace, Rakuten continues to prove their reputation for the sudden closure of their services. In 2016 they said goodbye to 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.

Established in Japan Rakuten set out to conquer with Tradoria (Rakuten.de), Play.com (Rakuten.co.uk), Buy.com (Rakuten.com) and Priceminister.fr (Rakuten.fr) and out of that list, aside from Japan only one remains in operation as a marketplace rather than an affiliate site (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.

2 Responses

  1. We were involved with both PriceMinister and Play.com as the Rakuten takeovers took place.

    It was clear from the get-go that they were destined to fail.

    A great case study on how not to do global commerce though. Interesting article!

  2. Play.com was great, and I was looking forward to being a 3rd-party seller there, but they closed to new sellers while they rebranded to Rekuten, and since then seemed to just vanish!
    I think I used to buy on Play.com more than Amazon at the time, or not far from it. Such a shame – really poor business sense – what the heck does Rakuten mean anyway? It’s not like it rolls off the tongue easily or is like the 4-letter domain name that was so much in demand back then.
    Play.com could have been good competition for Amazon, but Rakuten just made it a whole lot easier for Amazon to dominate.
    Shame we don’t have an equivalent marketplace like Walmart.com provides in the USA as an additional marketplace to work with alongside Amazon since play.com/Rakuten fell apart from the inside.


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