Rakuten: The first 3 months without Play.com

Rakuten FeatIt’s been three months since Play.com closed and Rakuten.co.uk became the replacement marketplace in the UK, so it’s time to take a look at the numbers and hear from some of the sellers on the platform.

Rakuten have kindly supplied some numbers and tell us that since we last looked at their numbers there are now 573 live merchants selling on site, that’s up 91% since the Play.com closure. Three months ago Rakuten.co.uk had 1.1 million listings, today they have 4.9 million products spread across some 7 million listings.

Why the numbers are growing

It’s not surprising that listings are growing. Dan and I were both adamant that it was unlikely that sellers would embrace Rakuten until multi-channel management solutions integrated the site. That’s changed and today there are many popular solutions with support, including Linnworks, ChannelAdvisor, SellerExpress, Volo, plentymarkets and ChannelGrabber. (This isn’t an exhaustive list and is growing almost daily).

So with multichannel support, how has that affected listing numbers in the five key categories we’ve been monitoring? Here’s our latest update which shows in all categories bar one listings numbers have shot up as sellers place inventory on the marketplace.

Rakuten Inventory Growth June 2015

Comment from Rakuten

We asked for some background from Rakuten and they told us:

“Our primary focus is on creating an entertaining marketplace where customers can shop and discover great products. Range and value for money are of course important, but it also important to have a good selection of quality merchants who offer customers a good shopping experience and service so they keep coming back.

Rakuten.co.uk traffic has grown significantly due to the re-direct of Play.com traffic (all direct visits to Play.com are being redirected to Rakuten.co.uk), as well as Rakuten.co.uk replacing Play.com in Google for a number of high volume search terms”

Additionally Rakuten.co.uk now offer 5% back in Super Points on every purchase as standard. This is very innovative for a marketplace to offer to customers and we believe will increase loyalty of customers, which will of course benefit all merchants on Rakuten.”

This week Rakuten is running EXPO’s in all EU countries it operates in. A great event where many merchants come to hear Mickey (CEO of Rakuten) speak and discuss 2015-and-beyond growth plans.”

Comments from readers

One large merchant told us that sales are ‘ok’ but nowhere near what they selling on Play, and that they believe the reasons for that all originate from Rakuten rather than any failings of software integration etc. Their gut instinct is that Rakuten is a work in progress but they have pockets deep enough to build momentum – it’s early days though.

A source at one multichannel management company told us that initial sales had been good due to incentives provided by Rakuten, but once those ended, sales dropped off. A quick spot check on the sellers who have moved over from Play.com showed that their sales seem to be doing all right now on Rakuten.

A third merchant mentioned that they sell on Rakuten’s other EU sites, but that currently they don’t sell on Rakuten.co.uk even though they were successful on Play.com.

Current advice for potential Rakuten sellers

It looks like the time might be right to dip your toe into the water and sign up for Rakuten. Multichannel management software is now in place so there are no real barriers to listing on Rakuten and managing you stock across multiple platforms.

Are you selling on Rakuten yet? If so how are your sales and what’s your experience over the past three months since Play.com was turned off. Are sales up, down or about the same and what advice would you give other sellers thinking of signing up for Rakuten.co.uk