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Rakuten: The first 3 months without Play.com

By Chris Dawson June 17, 2015 - 7:24 am

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

  • Stuart
    2 years ago

    It might be nice to ‘dip our toe in the water’ however after registering interest on the very first day of the announcement we have never heard a thing from Rakuten.

    I would perhaps think if we were selling products that everyone else sells we would be at the bottom of the list, however our products are unique and we worked well with the Play.com team over Christmas 13 with great results for both of us.

    It’s been a poor transfer of existing merchants from the Play.com platform and I spoke recently to an ‘insider’ who told me to stay away for atleast a year. Apparently the team are trying to work out what they want the site to be, do they want to targer ebay/amazon or do they want to go down the NOTHS/Etsy avenue.

    • james
      2 years ago

      exact same boat, i’d love to list on Rakuten, because it looks like we’d be the only one selling half of what i stock; but Rakuten dont seem to respond to to seller registrations.

    • 2 years ago

      ive reappplied once a month for the last six months and they have never gotten back to me…

  • Kieran
    2 years ago

    Our sales were good when they were running that promotion, its understandable, it is a bit like the very recent ebay discount code fiasco, everyone wants something for nothing, so sales are likely to be higher when consumers are getting a bargain, or not in the case of ebay’s promo.

    Currently we are getting on average 1 sale a day which is not great, but it has to be one of the easiest channels to list to now (with my software provider), it used to be the hardest and we did no really bother much with Play.com because of the hassles with content creation. I am not sure that Rakuten will ever be an Amazon, but the way ebay is going it might come up to a similar level or pass ebay in the future.

    I saw on here the other day that you cannot sell on the German version without having a physical presents in Germany, but i am reading here that sellers are listing on some of the other country sites, could someone kindly tell me what Rakuten sites a UK seller can list on when based in the UK?

    Thanks in advance for any answers

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Kieran, You could sell on Priceminister in France (which has yet to be Rakutenised)

    • Kieran
      2 years ago

      Thanks Chris

      Only problem here is that Storefeeder have created support for the latest Rakuten platform, so i guess it will not work until it is Rakutenised.

      Thanks anyways, much appreciated.

      I have contacted the .com version to see if we are allowed to sell into the US or not.

      Found the answer to Germany on this site and it is a no, as for Spain etc, not sure, but the US, Germany and France would be my first choices.

    • Stuart
      2 years ago

      Germany will change by the end of the year, France will be middle to end of next year when they change over as it’s Rakuten’s biggest european marketplace.

  • Dan
    2 years ago

    Have just done a search on Rakuten to see what the competition is like for our products and the search function crashed twice! Will leave it a bit longer I think before we consider this as a viable sales channel.

    • elvis
      2 years ago

      Search might be broke but at least you can add items to your basket and complete checkout without a message popping up saying “seller does not ship to your address” like ebay does.

  • Chris
    2 years ago

    I applied to sign up, however on receiving a reply, and the link to sign up, I am sure you were tied into it for a year, which put me off.
    Please correct me if I am wrong as I would like to give it a try.

    • kieran
      2 years ago

      I do not believe you are tied in for a year, we are not, there are different packages which provide different commission levels, we just went for the lowest one, and judging by even the big sellers reports of slow sales on Rakuten i doubt that it would be worth paying for a higher package to receive lower % fees.

      As far as i am aware we are paying monthly for the account, i have no memory of a year contract, worth contacting Rakuten to confirm if you can get hold of them.

    • Chris
      2 years ago

      Ah very good. Just checked again and you can cancel giving a months notice.
      It just started off saying it was a year contract, never noticed the cancelation underneath in the T&Cs
      Thanks for the reply.

  • Tony
    2 years ago

    As a buyer, Rakuten have a long way to go to match Play.com. Rakuten site is boring, in that the layout in uninteresting.Play.com had options to view New releases,Top 100, Bestsellers, Pre-order, etc, with easily visible options. Rakuten site is too muddled.I used to buy many dvds from Play.com, which was my first port of call, but only 1 so far with this site since the takeover. Rakuten could do better.

  • 2 years ago

    I cannot help but think that Rakuten threw the baby out with the bath water by killing off the Play.com brand. Rakuten might mean something to those of us who work in the industry but I’m sure the average man in the street has never heard of them. While Play.com limped as a retailer, it could have had a real future as a marketplace. IMHO.

    • elvis
      2 years ago

      Rakuten also own a video streaming service so I wouldn’t be surprised if they use play.com for this service when they are ready. ;-)

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