Rakuten to launch e-commerce service in Malaysia

  • New e-mall to bring top products
  • Promises ‘Japanese service standards’

The e-commerce space is heating up in Malaysia with Japan’s Rakuten Inc announcing plans to launch an Internet shopping mall here.

The Rakuten Online Shopping service will introduce consumers in Malaysia to an entirely new and unique online shopping experience, the company said in a statement. It is currently recruiting merchant partners to populate its online shopping mall leading up to its launch in “late 2012.” It did not give a more specific timeframe.

Earlier this week, Exabytes Sdn Bhd and MOLPay Sdn Bhd officially launched their www.easy.my payment gateway for e-commerce, citing Goldman Sachs forecasts that e-commerce in Malaysia is projected to hit RM3.4 billion (US$1.1 billion) this year with a 30% year-on-year growth.

That joint venture actually went live in June last year and already has 7,000 merchants on board and around 120,000 items on sale, the two companies said.

Rakuten quoted more conservative estimates by Euromonitor International, which reported that “Internet retailing in Malaysia reached RM842 million (US$268.3 million) in 2011 and is expected to exceed RM1.9 billion (US$605.5 million) by 2016."

Rakuten said its mall will focus on offering consumers in Malaysia the best local and international goods while employing "Japan’s world famous customer service standards."

It would be Rakuten’s third e-commerce market entry in footprint in South-East Asia, following TARAD.com in Thailand in 2009 and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia in 2011.

“The Rakuten shopping experience brings the best of both worlds to consumers and merchants,” said Rakuten Online Shopping president and chief executive officer Masaya Ueno.

“We empower merchants with the platform, tools and know-how they need to run successful online businesses. We also enable them to customize their storefronts to maximize their own brand appeal and allow them to communicate directly with their customers.”

Ueno said that at this stage, Rakuten is seeking to partner mid-sized and large retailers across industries in Malaysia, including fashion and apparel, IT and electronics, books and luxury goods.

In 1997, Rakuten launched a pioneering e-commerce platform, Rakuten Ichiba, in Japan that utilizes what it called a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) model, in which merchants build online storefronts on the marketplace and sell directly to consumers.

The Tokyo-based company is considered one of the leading Internet services companies in the world, providing a variety of services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal & media, online marketing and professional sports.

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