Rakuten first EU marketplace to acquire courier

Rakuten, better known in the UK as Play.com, have acquired e-commerce logistics business, Alpha Direct Services (ADS) in France.

The acquisition marks Rakuten’s first logistics investment outside of Japan and look set to provide fufilment services for Rakuten’s global e-commerce marketplaces, in particular Rakuten’s European businesses including PriceMinister in France.

ADS is France’s leading ecommerce logistics business with over 100 merchants ranging from small businesses to large well known brands such as Nestle, L’Oreal and Sarenza. Over the last decade the company has established a highly effective and cost efficient full service e-commerce logistics model encompassing front-end websites, order management, warehousing, fulfilment delivery and customer support.

ADS has the potential to quickly scale beyond France into wider Europe. Markedly, from a retail service perspective, the acquisition will allow merchants to capitalize on same day delivery in Paris and next day delivery across Europe.

This is a very interesting move, currently Amazon with their FBA service are offering same day services in parts of the US and rapidly expanding their warehouses in the UK. We’d expect Amazon to start offering same day services in the UK at some point in the near future.

It’s not just fulfilment services the marketplaces are considering though, eBay are trailing a Global shipping program which looks set to offer cost effective fast tracked services for their sellers. This is something that Rakuten could now potentially start to roll out to their merchants.

Whilst it would appear unlikely that eBay would follow Rakuten and acquire a courier company, the same isn’t true about Amazon. Amazon themselves ship product, as does Rakuten with Play.com, and significant savings could be achieved by any merchant of Amazon’s scale if they owned their own courier.

The most remarkable thing to note is that up until now none of the marketplaces own their own courier service, although with the scale of Amazon and Rakuten’s businesses it’s probably a decision that could be cost justified. Rakuten are now well positioned to offer services not only with control of the product up until the point of fulfilment but right up to the customer’s doorstep. Surely it would be in Amazon’s interest to have similar control right up to the point of delivery?

Will Amazon follow Rakuten and acquire a courier? If so which one? Tamebay are guessing that a likely contender in the UK would be for Amazon to acquire CityLink who they already use. CityLink are we hear already putting up prices for new customers, which could be in preparation for acquisition – would they be a good fit for Amazon?