Rakuten Ichiba- Japanese Giant Internet Company


Social commerce is definitely a trend that both business and customers cannot ignore. I was an intern in a Taiwan-based public relation company and my team was in charge of the market development of Taiwan Rakuten. Rakuten, the giant and leader of Janpanese Internet industry, explored the first oversea market in Taiwan in 2008. It positions itself as the direct competitor with Amazon and eBay in terms of e-commerce. Therefore, due to the contact with the company, I had chances to know about the concepts and ideas of its business model and the optimization of e-commerce. Recently, Rakuten has engaged social commerce into its business.  So, it will be my pleasure to share something I know about the company with you. First, I will shortly introduce Rakuten Ichiba and then share some of its novel technologies regarding social media and social commerce to correspond to the topic the week.

(source: http://twitter.com/RakutenTW; http://global.rakuten.com/careers/business/global/strategy.html)

Rakuten Ichiba is a Japenses-based Internet company who focus on online shopping. So far, it has expanded to over 13 e-commerve markets ranged from Asia, America to Europe. These years, Rakuten has aggressively expand its global market, acquiring and cooperating with many companies related to e-commerce and social media. For instance,last year it acquired the bigggest Canadian E-reader company, Kobo, to broaden the market, competing with Amazon. Moreover, this year, Rakuten invested the popular social sharing website- Pinterest- with 100 million dollars to integrate its e-commerce business with social media; in June, the company acquired the Spanish online video service- Wuaki.tv- in the purpose of incorporating videos with its e-reader device, extending its digital goods eco-system. What makes Rakuten this successful is its unique business model: B2B with its two core values-empowerment and entertainment. The company provides a platform where merchants can sell products and service. Rakuten has EC consultant to support each merchant to run the business by online marketing; also, Rakuten University offers courses teaching new merchants the know-how of e-commerce. Empowerments means merchants can decide the way to present on the platform, compared to regular online shopping website, merchants in Rakuten can design their own images to express the personality, to be compelling. Furthermore, “ shopping is entertainment” the slogan of Rakuten, emphasizes each customer can enjoy the shopping process by browsing special webpage and at the same interact with others shoppers.

Speaking of Rakuten’s social commerce strategy, lately, Rakuten Ichiba has launched Super Social Shop Service (S4) to first integrate e-commerce and Facebook into a social commerce, helping merchants to build the online stores on Facebook, gaining more exposure and visitors. S4 is an application, which can help merchants to upload their latest products on both Rakuten Online store and Facebook; users can see the information much easier with the high exposure. Within social media, once one of fans shares or likes the products, his or her friends can also browse through the pages and discuss the product at once. Similar to the viral marketing, S4 make Facebook users can shop more efficiently and interesting. From the website, http://global.rakuten.com/newsrelease/2011/1006.html, you can know more about the social commerce strategy of Rakuten.

Besides, Rakuten Ichiba has actively developed new technologies to socially engage users. For instance, a similar technique that  Professor showed today about using big screen to match the clothes-KiTeMiROOM. After matching right clothes, users can even share the snapshot with friends to involve socializations and conversations. The following video is a tutorial film of the technique that got the Interaction Paper Award 2012.

(source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iAUhiJWfaY)

The other interesting novelty is the AR Hitoke, which is a shopping support system that visualizes crowds with their ratings/comments so users can tell which product is the most popular one and view the comments before purchasing. We can see the crowds really line up for certain item, just as what people do in real world and this also show the demographic analysis from the different color and size of the human-shaped figures. This innovation can truly engage users due to its highly entertaining and vivid features.
(source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73J1YNxTgC8&feature=related)

The new technologies really change our live in many aspects and its influence with the thriving social media. For me , it is quite exciting to witness this process of evolving to another shopping behavior-traditional door-to door shopping to online/ social shopping. How do you think about the applications that showed above? Don’t you think it is interesting? Share your feedback here! 🙂

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