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Rakuten restructures in SE Asia

News, 26 February 2016

BANGKOK: Rakuten is set to sell its majority stake in Thailand's largest e-commerce business while teaming up with Korea's biggest online mall as it continues to overhaul its operations in the region.

The Japanese internet services giant recently announced that it was closing its marketplaces in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia as part of a shift from a B2B2C model towards one focused on C2C and mobile.

"Rakuten's transformation of the business model for e-commerce will include a greater focus on customer satisfaction and a quality experience in Japan, where Rakuten is the market leader; development of the ecosystem model in Taiwan; acceleration of cross-border trading in East Asia; an open e-commerce strategy led by Ebates in the United States; and introduction of C2C mobile services across the globe," a spokesperson explained.

As it exits Thailand, Rakuten is launching Rakuma across Southeast Asia – it claims this C2C app has being growing at a rate of 20% a month in Japan, where it was first launched in late 2014.

And it has also taken a major step towards realising its cross-border ambitions by partnering with Korea's Gmarket in a deal that will see Gmarket launch a series of mini-stores on Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten's Japanese platform, selling fashion and beauty products.

"The deal will pave the way for Korean small fashion and cosmetic brands who have been struggling to introduce their unique, high-quality products to consumers worldwide, to increase their exports to Japan," said Henry Chun, Head of Gmarket.

At the same time, Rakuten will launch a flagship store on Gmarket and will also offer products on G9, Gmarket's curated commerce service.

The two will provide warehouse space and delivery options in their home countries, in order to keep costs down and maintain a high level of customer service.

Data sourced from Inside Retail Asia, Channel News Asia, TechCrunch, e27, IGD; additional content by Warc staff