October 19, 2010, 4:08 PM

Online shopping mall debuts in China

Japan's Rakuten, which owns Buy.com, worked with a Chinese company on the launch.

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Japan’s Rakuten Inc. this week launched an online shopping site called Lekutian in partnership with Baidu Inc., a Chinese search provider. The companies say Lekutian, which roughly translates to “happy cool day,” will sell to Chinese online consumers apparel, accessories, furniture, home electronics, appliances, digital equipment, baby goods and cosmetics.

The companies had previously announced they would spend $50 million over three years to build the retail site. Rakuten operates Rakuten Ichiba, an online marketplace, in Japan and other Asian markets. It purchased e-retailer and marketplace Buy.com for $250 million earlier this year—the 39th largest e-retail company by sales, according to Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide—and acquired the French e-commerce company PriceMinister in July. Baidu is the dominant search engine provider in China.

“Through this joint venture, we are building not only the biggest online shopping mall, but we are bringing to market an innovative platform that allows retailers from around the world to create fun and lasting direct relationships with Chinese consumers,” says Koichi Nakamura, president and CEO of Lekutian.

According to the state-run China Internet Network Information Center, as of June there were 420 million internet users in China. A recent report from the Boston Consulting Group said that about 28% of Chinese internet users buy online and that it expects online transactions in China to surpass $100 billion in 2012.

Lekutian representatives say the site will have a screening process in place to stop merchants from selling counterfeit goods, and that the site will feature merchandise from Chinese and foreign brands at competitive prices.

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