Rakuten

Will messaging apps be the next walled gardens?

WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell believes that when it comes to walled gardens, “the more the merrier.” And it looks like he just might get his wish.

That’s because throughout the digital economy, walled gardens seem to be sprouting.

How Japan’s Rakuten plans to become a global ecommerce giant

Rakuten is one of Japan’s biggest tech companies, yet it’s still relatively unknown in Europe.

It began as an ecommerce marketplace but has since diversified into areas such as instant messaging and banking.

CEO Hiroshi Mikitani aims to raise Rakuten’s profile outside of Japan with expansion plans driven by further acquisitions.

Brand pages on online marketplaces: A good idea, badly executed

If you were wise enough to setup an online marketplace in the early days of the internet and also had great business chops, you might have been a very rich person by now.

Some of the world’s biggest ecommerce companies are those that don’t actually sell any of their own products, or rely to a large extent on third-party sellers.

Amazon is the most obvious example, while eBay has also taken great pains to rebrand as a marketplace rather than an auction site (try saying that eBay is an auction site in a blog post and see how long it takes for the PRs to knock on your door).

Similarly, in the UK Play.com shifted from being an ecommerce site to an “online trading platform” after being bought out by Rakuten, a Japanese tech company that is best known for its Rakuten Ichiba marketplace.

Online retailers cash in on Valentine’s Day: infographic

Well, it’s that day again. Valentine’s Day is here yet again to the delight of retailers everywhere. No wonder, when online sales in the US and the UK have continued to rise year-over-year in the run up to Valentine’s Day and retailers have had to learn to scale for seasonal surges.  

The folks over at Rakuten, the online marketplace that’s quickly catching up to Amazon and eBay, shared a few stats and a lovely infographic (don’t say we didn’t give you anything for Valentine’s!) detailing the global spending trends surrounding this love-sick holiday. 

Email is the most popular customer service channel among online shoppers

Email is the preferred customer service channel among online shoppers in the UK, according to a new survey by Rakuten.

Around half (49%) of respondents said they prefer to use email compared to 43% on phone. Younger shoppers are highly likely to turn to social channels when these touch points fail, with 46% of under 25s and 33% of 25-33 year olds using social to air their grievances more publically.

Rakuten’s stats are similar to findings from a survey we ran last year using Toluna. It revealed that 44% of UK consumers preferred email for customer service while one in three preferred telephone.

However data included in a separate infographic on poor customer service suggests that the situation is very different across the pond.

Building a multi-billion pound business online

The recent valuation of Facebook at $104bn, the purchase of Instagram (by Facebook) for a billion dollars, and even Rakuten’s investment in social network Pinterest shows that there is serious money to be made in online business. 

We ask all our merchants to join the Rakuten University to help them maximise their online sales, but some of the principles taught here can be applied to any online business, however they sell.

Here are some invaluable tips for online business and retailers that we’ve learnt over the years…