Rakuten in Japan

Rakuten in Japan, has captured the attention of businesses worldwide with its unparalleled success and innovative business model. Whether you’re a seasoned international business or a local entrepreneur, Rakuten offers a gateway to connect with millions of Japanese consumers. But with a giant like Rakuten, where do you even begin? This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate Rakuten’s landscape, leverage its strengths, and propel your e-commerce journey in Japan.

Why is Rakuten in Japan So Successful?

  •  How Rakuten’s unique business model supports its success and diversification

The dominance of Rakuten in Japan stems from its innovative business model that prioritizes customer satisfaction and loyalty. Unlike traditional online retailers, Rakuten functions as a marketplace, connecting sellers with a vast pool of eager shoppers. This fosters healthy competition, ensuring a diverse range of products at competitive prices, Rakuten has become a go-to destination for online shoppers in Japan. Rakuten’s commitment to constant evolution is another key point. From venturing into fintech with Rakuten Bank to establishing a robust loyalty program (Rakuten Points), Rakuten has cleverly integrated various services to create a seamless and integrated consumer experience. 

  • The impact of Rakuten on consumer behavior and the e-commerce landscape in Japan

Rakuten’s impact on the Japanese e-commerce landscape transcends its status as a mere online marketplace. It has fundamentally reshaped consumer behavior and continues to be a driving force in the industry. Here’s how:

Convenience and User-Friendliness: Rakuten’s platform boasts a user-friendly interface, making online shopping accessible to a wide range of demographics, even those less tech-savvy. This has empowered a larger portion of the Japanese population to embrace e-commerce, contributing to the overall growth of the market.

Enhanced Trust and Security: Rakuten prioritizes secure payment options and reliable delivery services. This focus on customer security has instilled trust in online shopping among Japanese consumers, who were initially hesitant due to concerns about fraud and product quality. This shift in consumer behavior has opened doors for other e-commerce players as well.

Competitive Landscape and Price Transparency: Rakuten’s marketplace model fosters healthy competition among sellers. This competition drives competitive pricing and a wider variety of product offerings for consumers. Additionally, Rakuten’s platform often displays product listings from multiple sellers side-by-side, allowing for easy price comparison and promoting price transparency. This empowers consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Shifting Consumer Expectations: Rakuten’s success has set a high bar for customer service in the Japanese e-commerce landscape. Consumers now expect a seamless online shopping experience, including efficient order fulfillment, prompt customer support, and hassle-free return policies. This has pushed other e-commerce platforms to elevate their services to meet the standards established by Rakuten.

Rakuten in Japan online shoppinh

What Businesses can Leverage Rakuten to Enter / Expand in the Japanese Market?

Rakuten in Japan for international business

The Japanese market, with its tech-savvy population and high disposable income, is a profitable target for international businesses. Rakuten offers a powerful platform to enter and expand your reach within this market. 

  • Strategic Entry through Rakuten:
  1. Market Research and Targeting: Rakuten provides valuable data on consumer preferences and buying habits. Utilize this data to understand your target audience, product demand, and pricing strategies.
  1. Localization: Japan has a unique consumer culture. Translate and localize your product descriptions, marketing materials, and customer service interactions to resonate with Japanese audience.L

Learn more about Japanese consumers’ behaviors by watching our podcast episode Understanding Japanese Consumers with Polina Oba.

  1. Rakuten’s Marketplace Model: Rakuten operates a marketplace model, where multiple sellers offer their products. This allows you to piggyback on Rakuten’s established customer base and brand recognition.
  • Understanding Local Regulations:
  1. Product Regulations: Ensure your products comply with Japanese safety and quality standards. Research and obtain necessary certifications before listing your products.
  2. Taxation: Understand Japan’s tax system for e-commerce businesses. Rakuten may offer resources or partner with tax service providers to assist you.
  1. Consumer Protection Laws: Familiarize yourself with Japan’s consumer protection laws concerning refunds, warranties, and product labelling.
  • Leveraging Rakuten’s Platform:
  1. Rakuten Global Market: This platform caters specifically to international businesses, simplifying the entry process by providing multilingual support and streamlined logistics solutions.
  1. Marketing and Promotions: Utilize Rakuten’s advertising tools to target specific demographics and product categories. Participate in Rakuten’s sales events and promotions to boost visibility and sales.
  1. Customer Service: Provide excellent customer service in Japanese to build trust and brand loyalty. Rakuten may offer tools or partnerships for managing customer inquiries.

Rakuten in Japan for Local Japanese Businesses

For local Japanese businesses, particularly SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), Rakuten offers plenty of tools and services to scale up and thrive in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

  1. Rakuten Ichiba: This is Rakuten’s main marketplace platform, populated by both individual sellers and established businesses. Listing on Rakuten Ichiba allows SMEs to reach a vast customer base.
  1. Financial Support: Rakuten offers financial solutions like loans and payment processing services to support business growth and cash flow management for SMEs.
  1. Logistics Support: Rakuten provides a network of warehouses and fulfillment centers that can streamline order fulfillment and delivery for SMEs, reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.

These detailed case studies showcase the measurable impact of leveraging Rakuten’s platform for businesses entering or expanding in the Japanese market. The growth metrics highlight the success stories and strategies adopted by each company to achieve significant growth and success.

Newell Brands Japan 

  • Industry: Consumer Goods (Pen Market)
  • Partnered with Rakuten: September 2019

Newell Brands Japan, a leading player in the consumer goods industry, embarked on a strategic partnership with Rakuten to expand its sales channel and maximize distribution in the competitive pen market in Japan. 

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Newell Brands Japan’s experience in Rakuten’s marketplace has been characterized by strategic optimization and collaboration. The company holds monthly review meetings with ECC and its vendor to optimize key performance indicators (KPIs) such as visits, conversion rates (CV), and average selling price (ASP). Newell Brands Japan also invests in advertising products such as Rakuten Premium Placement (RPP) and Rakuten Marketing Display (RMD) to enhance brand visibility and drive sales.

Sales and Brand Awareness Growth:

Since launching its store on Rakuten in September 2019, Newell Brands Japan has experienced exponential growth, with a growth rate exceeding 10 times. The company’s return on marketing and advertising spending on Rakuten has been among the highest across international markets, showcasing the effectiveness of its strategies and investments.

Tactics to Increase Sales on Rakuten:

  1. Shop Page Design Enhancement: Newell Brands Japan renewed and refreshed its shop page design to align with Japanese standards, enhancing the user experience and attracting more customers
  2. Ads Promotion / SEO Promotion: The company increased its investment in ads promotion, leveraging Rakuten’s advertising products such as RPP and RMD to boost brand visibility and drive conversions.

Daniel Wellington 

  • Industry: Fashion Retail
  • Launch Since: 2018

Daniel Wellington, a renowned name in the fashion retail industry, made a strategic move to expand its sales channel to Japan in 2018. This case study explores Daniel Wellington’s journey of leveraging Rakuten’s platform to tap into the profitable Japanese market, achieve sales growth, and enhance brand awareness.

Daniel Wellington found Rakuten’s marketplace to be well-managed, with clear campaign guidelines that facilitated smooth operations and effective marketing strategies. The platform provided a conducive environment for the company to showcase its products and engage with Japanese consumers.

Sales and Brand Awareness Growth:

Since launching on Rakuten, Daniel Wellington’s sales and brand awareness have steadily grown, meeting the company’s expectations. Rakuten has quickly become one of the most important sales channels for Daniel Wellington, thanks to its effective marketing efforts and a satisfactory return on advertising spend (ROAS) on the platform.

Tactics to Increase Sales on Rakuten:

  1. Increased RPP Investment: Daniel Wellington increased the investment in Rakuten Premium Placement (RPP) by optimizing the amount and keyword settings, enhancing visibility and product discoverability.
  2. Participation in Super Sale Search: The company strategically joined Super Sale Search, Rakuten’s largest sales event, to capitalize on increased customer traffic and boost sales during the event period.

Weber-Stephen Products Japan G.K.

  • Industry: Outdoor Cooking Equipment
  • Launch Since: 2018

Weber-Stephen Products Japan G.K., a leading player in the outdoor cooking equipment industry, strategically expanded its sales channel to Japan in 2018. This case study delves into Weber’s journey of leveraging Rakuten’s platform to tap into the Japanese market, achieve substantial sales growth, and enhance brand awareness.

Weber-Stephen Products Japan G.K. found Rakuten’s marketplace to be conducive to sales growth, especially once they understood the strategies to increase sales and engagement. The platform provided a positive trajectory for sales growth, contributing to the company’s confidence in its market presence and potential.

Sales and Brand Awareness Growth:

Since launching on Rakuten, Weber-Stephen Products Japan G.K. has experienced consistent year-on-year sales growth, establishing Rakuten as one of its largest sales channels in Japan. In the third year of partnership, the company witnessed a substantial jump in sales, almost tripling its previous figures. The return on marketing investment (ROMI) has consistently been favorable on Rakuten, showcasing the effectiveness of the company’s marketing efforts.

Learning More about Sales in Japan here :

Guide to Doing Sales in Japan

Tactics to Increase Sales on Rakuten:

  1. Event-Based Discounts: Weber-Stephen Products Japan G.K. offered significant discounts during promotional events on Rakuten, attracting customers and driving sales.
  2. Increased Ads Ratio: The company strategically increased its investment in advertising during promotions, enhancing visibility and engagement with potential customers on Rakuten.

What are the Latest Consumer Trends in Rakuten in Japan?

Understanding the latest consumer trends on Rakuten in Japan is important for optimizing your product listings and engaging customers effectively. Here’s what you need to know:

Mobile Dominance: The majority of Japanese consumers shop online using their smartphones. Ensure your Rakuten storefront and product listings are mobile-friendly and provide a seamless mobile shopping experience.

Value for Money: Japanese consumers are known to be value-conscious. Offer competitive pricing, bundle deals, and highlight product benefits that justify their price points.

Emphasis on Quality and Authenticity: Japan has a strong preference for high-quality products. Ensure product descriptions are detailed, accurate, and showcase the authenticity of your offerings.

Customer Reviews and Ratings: Positive customer reviews and high ratings significantly influence purchasing decisions on Rakuten. Encourage customers to leave reviews and respond promptly to address any concerns.

  • Optimizing Product Listings and Engagement Strategies:
  1. High-Quality Product Images: Use clear, professional product images that showcase details and functionality.
  1. Detailed Product Descriptions: Provide comprehensive descriptions in Japanese, highlighting features, benefits, and specifications.
  1. Promotions and Discounts: Offer promotions and discounts to attract customers and encourage repeat business.
  1. Social Media Integration: Promote your Rakuten storefront and engage with customers on social media platforms popular in Japan, such as Line and Twitter.

By leveraging Rakuten’s platform, understanding local regulations and consumer trends, and utilizing the available tools and services, international businesses and local Japanese companies can unlock the huge potential of the Japanese e-commerce market. 

Rakuten’s Marketing and Growth Strategies on Rakuten

Have you ever wondered why Rakuten became the biggest e-commerce platform of Japan and also the third biggest e-commerce platform of the world?

Of course, marketing and growth strategies played a big role.

Rakuten offers various services such as e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, MasterCard, e-money, portals and media, online marketing, and professional sports by both consumers and enterprises.

Let’s learn about the marketing strategies of Rakuten. And how they carry out their marketing campaigns

Rakuten’s marketing strategy is more focused on speaking directly with the core target audience, young millennial women, but maybe they would focus more on generation Z later. If we analyze the campaigns of Rakuten, we can see clearly that their affiliate campaigns are really epic.

Rakuten Super Points Programs: This is one of the best affiliate marketing campaigns and customer loyalty programs. Customers can earn points just by purchasing as usual on Rakuten ecommerce platforms. Customers can use them to purchase other items.

We can use similar methods for many kinds of business and we can even see the similar idea at some café or restaurants. You’ll get points if you make a purchase and can use them for a discount if you could collect enough.

Seasonal Sales and Promotions: If you ever notice, you’ll see Rakuten always participates in events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday sales events. Affiliates leverage these opportunities to promote special offers, discounts, and exclusive deals available on Rakuten’s e-commerce platform, driving traffic and sales during peak shopping seasons.

Product Launches and Exclusive Offers: They never fail to make revenue both for themselves and the marketers who’re using their platform. They collaborate with the brands and advertisers to bring excitement to their audience even if it’s not the peak season.

This campaign highlights that people are always craving for new, exciting things. If we want our old audiences to stay, we have to bring them better ones.

Content-driven Campaigns: Rakuten affiliates produce high-quality contents, such as product reviews, tutorials, and gift guides, featuring Rakuten’s partner brands and products. These content-driven campaigns provide valuable information and recommendations to consumers while seamlessly integrating affiliate links, driving traffic and conversions for Rakuten’s advertisers.

Cross-promotional Campaigns: This kind of campaign can bring benefits to all parties involved. Rakuten in Japan affiliates collaborate with other affiliates or influencers to cross-promote each other’s content and affiliate links. The combined reach and influence of multiple partners, amplifying the marketing message and driving multiple benefits.

Influencer Partnerships: Rakuten usually collaborates with many influencers across various platforms and business types of them with different vibes and key messages.

including fashion, beauty, lifestyle, technology, and travel, to promote partner brands and products to their dedicated followers. Influencer partnerships leverage the authenticity and credibility of influencers to create engaging and compelling content that resonates with their audience, driving brand awareness and sales for Rakuten’s advertisers. Find out more about Influencer Marketing in Japan by reading our article as it’s important to understand how it works.

Marketing strategies are important for a brand but remember the brand itself offers the best products to the audience.

Marketing in Rakuten in Japan

Best Operating Practices for Rakuten in Japan

Logistics and Supply Chain:

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, efficient logistics and supply chain management are important for success. Rakuten in Japan understands this and offers a comprehensive suite of logistics services to streamline operations for sellers on its platform.

Reduced Costs and Improved Efficiency: Rakuten’s extensive network of warehouses and fulfillment centers strategically located across Japan can significantly reduce storage and fulfillment costs. 

Inventory Management and Scalability: Rakuten’s logistics solutions can help you manage inventory levels effectively, minimizing the risk of stockouts and overstocking. 

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Fast and reliable delivery is a key driver of customer satisfaction. Rakuten’s efficient logistics network ensures timely deliveries, contributing to a positive customer experience. By outsourcing your logistics operations to Rakuten, you can free up valuable resources and manpower to focus on core business activities like product development, marketing, and customer service. This allows you to dedicate time and energy to areas that directly contribute to business growth.

Data Analytics and Consumer Insights Tools by Rakuten in Japan

Rakuten Insight: Consumers love Rakuten Insights because they get paid by answering surveys. From business owners’ point of view, it offers access to a diverse panel of respondents across various demographics, allowing businesses to conduct surveys, gather feedback, and gain valuable insights into consumer preferences, trends, and behaviors.

Rakuten Intelligence: It is the biggest provider of the largest e-commerce purchase panel in the United States. It provides e-commerce, market research, online shopping data and analytics for various industries and helps all the companies (big and small), manufacturers, retailers and advertisers.

Rakuten Marketing Analytic: It offers advanced analytics and reports to track and measure the digital campaigns. It provides insights into key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on investment (ROI), helping businesses optimize their marketing strategies and maximize their advertising spend.

Rakuten Advertising Platform: It is known as Rakuten Advertising, offers a suite of advertising solutions, including affiliate marketing, display advertising, search marketing, and influencer marketing. They said, Rakuten Advertising is #1 global affiliate marketing network & platform, providing high-quality services that help our users and partners grow.

Rakuten Travel Insights: It’s a leading online travel agency and platform. You can book flight, hotel, vacation packages on that platform. Sometimes, Rakuten Travel may give you some interesting deals and discounts. One of the best platform for travel junkies

These are the famous and best platforms for consumers but the thing which makes all Rakuten Platforms is their customer service. Rakuten creates customer service tools on all of their platforms to ensure a seamless and satisfying shopping experience for its users.

Customer Service Excellence

Live Chat Support: It provides on time service to all the users. It allows users to communicate with the customer service representatives in real-time to receive assistance with inquiries, issues, or concerns.

Email Support:  Still not satisfied with Live Chat? You can reach out to Rakuten Official email for assistance with various queries, including order status, product inquiries, returns, and refunds.

Help Center: If you want to find out answers just by yourself, good news is Rakuten also has a help center with the answers for common questions, guides and solutions on all of its platforms.

Social Media Support: If you just want to use social media, don’t worry! ! Rakuten in Japan also offers customer support through its official social media channels, such as Twitter or Facebook. Users can reach out to Rakuten’s social media team for assistance or to report issues, and they may receive a response or resolution via direct message or public reply.

Community Forums: Rakuten hosts community forum or discussion seminars where users can interact with each other, share tips and advice, and seek assistance from fellow users or Rakuten moderators.

No wonder why Rakuten in Japan can maintain high customer satisfaction and be in the top group.

Top 5 Marketing Agencies for Rakuten Marketing in Japan

If Rakuten is the best and biggest platform of the country, is there any Japanese marketing agency which gives service for Rakuten in Japan?

Yes, there are a lot of agencies offering services for Rakuten in Japan.

Here is the list of top agencies in Japan.

Hakuhodo Inc.: Hakuhodo is one of Japan’s largest advertising and marketing agencies, offering a wide range of services including digital marketing, creative advertising, media planning, and data analytics.They have extensive experience in Rakuten marketing and can help businesses leverage the platform effectively to drive sales and growth.

Dentsu Inc.: Dentsu is another leading advertising and marketing agency in Japan, known for its innovative campaigns and strategic approach to digital marketing. They offer services including Rakuten marketing, e-commerce optimization, search engine marketing ( SEM ) , and social media advertising.

CyberAgent, Inc.: CyberAgent is a digital marketing agency specializing in online advertising, performance marketing, and e-commerce solutions. They have expertise in Rakuten marketing and can help businesses optimize their presence on the platform to maximize sales and ROI.

Opt, Inc.: Opt is a digital marketing agency focused on performance-based advertising and data-driven strategies. They offer Rakuten marketing services including affiliate marketing, display advertising, and search marketing, helping businesses drive targeted traffic and conversions on the platform.

Recruit Co., Ltd.: Recruit is a top marketing and media company in Japan, offering a range of services including advertising, marketing, and HR solutions. They have experience in Rakuten marketing and can provide strategic guidance and campaign management to help businesses achieve their marketing goals on the platform.

To maximize your success on Rakuten in Japan, partnering with a marketing agency specializing in the Rakuten platform can be a game-changer. These agencies possess in-depth knowledge of the advertising tools of Rakuten in Japan, consumer trends within the platform, and the complexity of the Japanese market. However, identifying the most suitable agency can be a challenge. Here’s where Scaling Your Company can be a valuable resource.

Scaling Your Company, a platform dedicated to connecting businesses with top service providers, can assist you in your search for a Rakuten marketing agency. Our team conducts thorough research to identify agencies with proven expertise in marketing in Rakuten Japan. We consider factors like an agency’s experience with clients in your industry, their track record of success on Rakuten in Japan, and their understanding of the Japanese consumer landscape. By leveraging Scaling Your Company’s expertise, you can streamline your search and connect with the top agencies equipped to propel your brand’s success on Rakuten.

To Get our commendation on general marketing agencies in Japan, check out our article on Creative agencies in Japan!

Creative Agencies in Japan

marketing agency

CSR Initiatives from Rakuten in Japan: 

CSR Initiatives are effective especially for branding by making a positive impact on society and the environment. CSR initiatives of Rakuten in Japan cover a wide range of areas, including education, environmental sustainability, disaster relief, and community development. Here are some notable CSR initiatives from Rakuten in Japan:

Rakuten Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Commitment: Rakuten in Japan is committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through various initiatives focused on environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and economic development. Rakuten in Japan promotes initiatives aligned with the SDGs, such as reducing carbon emissions, promoting diversity and inclusion, and supporting local communities.

Rakuten Super English Program: This is the program which supports children in Japan for their English Language Education. Through partnerships around the country, Rakuten in Japan provides learning materials, online resources, and language exchange programs to help students improve their English proficiency and develop global communication skills.

Rakuten Green Life Points Program: Six different services of Rakuten in Japan were eligible for that program( Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten Rakuma, Rakuten Fashion, Rakuten 24 Drink-Kan, Rakuten Bic, and Rakuten Travel). It was a point awarding program for eco-conscious purchases such as energy-saving appliances, label-free beverages, and second-hand goods. This campaign is part of the Green Life Points promotion program led by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.

Rakuten Social Accelerator Program: This program, launched in 2018 , pairs Rakuten employees with various stakeholders to leverage Rakuten’s technology, assets and drive positive social impact together. In 2022, Rakuten employees took part in a number of events and consulted directly with members of regional communities on social issues faced by a range of organizations. They proposed ideas to aid the organizations’ future activities and supported their problem-solving efforts.

For Example , Konan University “Thankyou Bamboo Project” (Kobe)

Konan University is looking to solve the issue of abandoned bamboo groves by leveraging bamboo wood’s characteristics, recycling and realizing a more sustainable society. Rakuten employees helped with proposals for social media and website marketing.

Final Thoughts

Rakuten in Japan offers opportunities for scaling your business across various sectors, thanks to its diverse ecosystem and innovative platforms. Whether you’re in e-commerce, digital advertising, travel, finance, or other industries, integrating with the ecosystem of Rakuten in Japan can bring your business to new heights of success.

In the e-commerce sector, Rakuten in Japan’s marketplace provides a platform for sellers to reach millions of potential customers in Japan and beyond. With its robust logistics infrastructure and extensive customer base, Rakuten offers endless opportunities for businesses to expand their reach and drive sales.

In digital advertising, Rakuten’s advertising platform offers advanced targeting and optimization tools to help businesses reach their target audience effectively. By leveraging Rakuten in Japan’s vast network of publishers and influencers, businesses can maximize their advertising ROI and drive growth through strategic marketing campaigns.

In the travel industry, Rakuten Travel provides a comprehensive platform for booking hotels, flights, and vacation packages, catering to the needs of travelers across Japan and around the world. By partnering with Rakuten Travel, businesses can tap into a profitable market and attract travelers seeking convenient and affordable travel options.

In finance, Rakuten offers a range of financial services including banking, credit cards, insurance, and securities trading, providing businesses with opportunities to integrate financial products and services into their offerings and enhance the value proposition for customers.

Overall, integrating with the ecosystem of Rakuten in Japan can be a game-changer for businesses looking to achieve long-term growth and success in the Japanese market. By leveraging platforms, resources, and expertise of Rakuten in Japan, businesses can unlock new opportunities, expand their reach, and drive sustainable growth for years to come.

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