Rakuten.co.uk release more launch information

Rakuten homeLast week, Tamebay published a document for merchants that went some way to explaining the transition they are planning from closing down play.com to launching a new marketplace called rakuten.co.uk.

Many readers who are already paying a subscription to play.com (and were considering renewing it) were surprised to learn that play.com was to be scrapped and replaced by rakuten.co.uk.

We were contacted by Rakuten and they asked us to remove the document that some sellers had received and sent to us from the site. We agreed. They have now subsequently provided us with two new documents with some extra information regarding their plans.

You can find these documents here.

The sales document can be found here.

Some general FAQs on the transition.

I’ve got to say that if I were a play.com merchant right now, and I was getting this information from Tamebay in the first instance, and hadn’t been in receipt of information from Rakuten directly about this change by now…. I’d be pretty miffed. (To put it lightly.)

Rakuten have clearly been remiss in valuing their current sellers by furnishing them with info if the comments and correspondence that we have received is to be believed.

Whilst there is lots to like in the concept, and we welcome any new players into the market, too many questions remain unanswered about the transition to allow us to be enthusiastic right now. And such shoddy comms to paying customers does make us wonder whether existing merchants feature on their radar at all.

When considering the proposition, it’s impossible to evaluate whether the platform is worth investing in or subscribing to without understanding what their consumer marketing strategy might be. A marketplace is only as good as its buyers and the info we have thus far offers no answers there. The pricing info is moot if there isn’t a buying base.

Tamebay’s advice, in the light of the info, and our contact with them is this:

- If you’re spending any time or money on play.com, stop. The marketplace is being shelved and your efforts are best directed elsewhere.

- Hold your fire on rakuten.co.uk until after Christmas. Hopefully by then more information will be available. Not least regarding recruiting buyers.

- Take the time with other channels and develop sales there. Play/Rakuten is a concern for 2015.

- Quiz your providers, if you have them, about how you might transition to Rakuten if you’re using play. We’d love to hear if they have reached out to the software providers of marketplace services already. If they haven’t that is very worrying indeed.

There are too many uncertainties right now for rakuten.co.uk to be a serious concern for serious business sellers before the New Year. Direct your energies else where.