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Marketplace Focus: Rakuten Ichiba

16 May 2017

Our Marketplace Focus series continues with Japan’s leading online marketplace, Rakuten Ichiba. Founded by the Japanese businessman Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten Ichiba has become the largest ecommerce platform in Japan and today is determinedly striving to open its door to the world, actively turning Japan into a more accessible ecommerce market.

Ecommerce in Japan

Despite being the fourth largest ecommerce market globally, Japan remains a relatively untapped market for western brands, due to local trade restrictions. However, this is a market which is brimming with potential and with Rakuten Ichiba’s new initiatives to help western retailers sell into the market, there has never been a better time to invest in Japan.

A few local insights:

  • There are 126 million people living in Japan, and a 91% internet penetration – this means there are over 114 million potential online customers to tap into
  • From 2014 to 2016, Japanese ecommerce sales have steadily increased, with 2018 figures expected to reach USD$122.46 billion
  • The average annual online revenue per shopper in Japan is USD$1,023.58 – one of the highest globally
  • 92% of locals purchase on desktop computers, clearly favouring the larger screen when compared to the mere 1% who purchased on tablets
  • Japanese shoppers like to immerse themselves in the product, by reviewing a detailed product description and looking to reviews to understand the quality of the goods they are looking to buy
  • One of the biggest concerns around ecommerce is delivery time options, particularly in the cities where shoppers are out of their homes for most of the day, so having the option to select a specific delivery time slot, particularly within an hour, is highly valued
  • 25% of purchases are not fulfilled because shoppers are not at home
  • Despite issues with delivery, lockers are not popular in Japan
  • Japanese cross-border purchases are growing steadily, with 72% of buyers preferring to shop on a large global marketplace due to buyer guarantees offered by the platform – Rakuten offers Customer Protection Guarantee to ensure money, quality and authenticity of products.

[In Japan ecommerce sales are expected to show a stable annual growth, resulting in a total of US$134.1 billion in 2019 – Source:]

Rakuten Ichiba: be an optimist


Founded in 1997, Rakuten Ichiba (Japanese for optimist) is the leading web brand in Japan, boasting a turnover of 1.6 trillion yen as of March 2017, and 26.8% market share of all B2C ecommerce. Focused on providing a mall-like platform, where retailers can create their own branded shops and build up local brand awareness, Rakuten Ichiba is an important retail channel for locals who are interested in purchasing western brands, which are valued for their quality and status.

This ‘shop centric’ model has empowered some of the largest brands from around the world to sign-up to the platform, including Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, as well as some local growing brands such as Takeo Kikuchi.
As well as creating a brand hub, Rakuten Ichiba offers local customer service as, which is as much about cultural understanding and expectations as it is about language, to help western retailers excel on the platform.  For example, Japanese people are rarely confrontational or direct, so a hard-sell approach will not make them comfortable to request a specific service or reach out for sales support. Indeed, most of the Japanese consider customer care a pillar of the buying experience, and 41% of them are ready to switch retailer after a bad experience with the customer service, making customer service crucial to continued online success in Japan.

[Shopping habits by platform – (Left) “I buy in sales and when prices are reduced – (Right) “I often check out internet for bargain sales. Source: Dentsu]

Start selling on Rakuten Ichiba

As the leading experts in global online marketplaces, Pentagon can accelerate your international growth by setting up and managing your store directly on Rakuten Ichiba.

We can identify the best opportunities in the marketplace and provide a technical advisor to manage the integration between your brand and Rakuten Ichiba. A proactive account manager will oversee the day-to-day running of your branded store. We optimise your product titles and drive sales through platform deals, translate all product descriptions and titles to match local language and culture and deliver expert ecommerce customer service to help deliver an excellent whole experience.

Talk to a member of our team today to find out in details how we can increase your international sales! Email or call +44 (0)20 8940 5392

The opportunities of selling on Rakuten Ichiba


Let us develop a tailored solution for your business that will help you reach new international customers and grow your global sales.

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