February 22, 2011, 2:22 PM

The opening of (digital) Japan

Buy.com launches a site designed to boost international e-commerce sales.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of an offer on the Japanese site.

Buy.com, a unit of Japan-based Rakuten Inc., has launched an e-commerce site for selling to foreign markets, starting with Japan.  The site, Import.Buy.com, will gradually expand its service to other countries, the retailer says.

"Rakuten and Buy.com have a shared vision of borderless commerce—to enable consumers anywhere to easily buy products sold by merchants in other countries," says Hiroshi Mikitani, founder, chairman and CEO of Rakuten.

Import.Buy.com will initially offer some 20,000 products, including consumer electronics, home appliances, personal computers and wine, that are also offered on Buy.com. Among the rotating merchandising displays on the Import.Buy.com home page today is an offer for wine and complementary food items from Wine.com. The bilingual offer, presented mostly in Japanese script, includes, in English, the Wine.com logo adjacent to the message, “From USA with love.”

Wine.com launched its presence on the international site last night and had received several orders as of today, a spokesman says, adding that it was too soon to determine how significant the site would be in generating foreign sales.

The launch of the new site coincides with the debut of Buy.com’s new Easy International Forwarding service, which enables the approximately 2,500 merchants that sell through the Buy.com e-marketplace to ship to customers in Japan and eventually other foreign markets, Buy says.

"With Easy International Forwarding, our U.S. manufacturing and retail partners now have access to an enormous new customer base, and customers in Japan will benefit with access to products they can't find locally," says Buy.com president and CEO Neel Grover.

Buy’s new international e-commerce site and shipping service will impose no additional fees to participating e-marketplace sellers related to either shipping or product listings, Buy says. In addition, Buy and Rakuten will facilitate and translate customer service inquiries from foreign consumers on behalf of e-marketplace sellers.

Shoppers on Import.Buy.com can earn and redeem the same loyalty points they earn on other Rakuten sites under the Rakuten Super Points program, which Rakuten says has nearly 70 million members. Rakuten operates e-commerce sites in 11 countries and has plans to expand its e-commerce presence to 27 international markets.

Buy.com is No. 32 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Wine.com is No. 229.

Cam Fortin, director of business development at Wine.com, will speak about paid search marketing campaigns at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session titled “Breathing new life into old PPC campaigns."

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