May 17, 2013, 12:34 PM

Rakuten kicks off its fifth European e-marketplace

After months of testing, it launched this week Rakuten.at in Austria.

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Rakuten Inc. this week opened in Austria its fifth European e-marketplace at Rakuten.at. The other four operate in the U.K. (Play.com), France (PriceMinister.com) Spain (PriceMinister.es) and Germany (Rakuten.de).

In Germany alone, the company’s site features  offers 17 million products from 8,200 merchants on Rakuten.de Shopping, according to Aexel Bauer, chief marketing officer for Rakuten in Germany and Austria. Figures for the Austria.at site were not available. Rakuten is headquartered in Japan, where its flagship marketplace, Rakuten.co.jp, is the country’s leading e-commerce site by sales and No. 2 in Internet Retailer’s Asia 500 rankings.

Rakuten’s fees to merchants in Germany and Austria run 39 euros per month, plus from 6% to 10% of a transaction’s value. An additional 1% of the value is added to the fee for mobile transactions.

Bauer notes that Rakuten enables merchants to design their shops on its marketplace with branding and shopping functionality consistent with their own e-commerce sites; Rakuten handles risk management and covers any losses tied to online payment fraud; and it provides help in marketing according to local customs and laws about consumer privacy.

The company operates e-marketplaces in 13 countries and, through its other businesses, including Rakuten Travel and Kobo e-books, operates e-commerce sites in a total of 25 countries, says Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer. In 2010, Rakuten acquired U.S. e-retailer Buy.com, renaming it Rakuten.com Shopping, which operates as both a retailer and an e-marketplace and is No. 40 in the Internet Retailer Top 500. Rakuten announced in January that Buy.com would phase out its own sales and become a pure marketplace host for other retailers. That will make the site, now called Rakuten.com Shopping, similar to eBay.com and unlike Amazon.com, which sells on its own behalf as well as offering products from marketplace sellers.

Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Rakuten, will address the company’s international e-commerce strategy during his keynote presentation at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago in June. Mikitani’s presentation will take place from 8:45 a.m.-9:15 a.m. on June 5.

More news about e-commerce in Europe will appear in the June issue of Internet Retailer magazine and the 2013 edition of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Europe guide.

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