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Rakuten UK marketplace is closing down

By Dan Wilson June 7, 2016 - 3:24 pm

In rather surprising news, it seems that Rakuten is closing down its UK operation in August.

In an email to partners, Patrick Kelly, UK Marketplace Country Manager writes: “We regret to inform you that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, Rakuten has decided to consider plans to close Rakuten.co.uk at the end of August.

This is part of a European business review aimed at ensuring that Rakuten is able to redevelop our offer to match customer and merchant expectations in an ever-changing market.

Rakuten has started to talk with employees around the closure of both the operation and the Cambridge office and, subject to these discussions, we anticipate that the marketplace will no longer accept new purchases after the end of August 2016.

All merchants will be informed today.”

If you’re a Rakuten seller, we’d love to see the email too merchants, when they send it.

This is not good news, Tamebay has always stood by the view that competition between marketplaces is a good thing and eBay and Amazon need a plausible third player. Rakuten could have been that player but the strange rebranding to Rakuten, a dismissive attitude to sellers (especially when transitioning from play.com) and a lack of direction was evident.

Rakuten UK just didn’t know what it wanted to do or be and that’s fatal in business.

  • 1 year ago

    Just a month after they told us how they’d streamlined signing up for UK sellers and at last had the marketplace running well 😮

  • James
    1 year ago

    Poorly executed re brand.

    Whoever was in charge of should be hung out to dry.

    Utterly clueless management – typical of misinformed larger corporates.

  • 1 year ago

    Please see email received:

    Dear Merchant

    We regret to inform you that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, Rakuten has decided to consider plans to close Rakuten.co.uk to shoppers from the end of August.

    This is part of a European business review aimed at ensuring that Rakuten is able to redevelop our offer to match customer and merchant expectations in an ever-changing market.

    Rakuten has started to talk with employees around the closure of both the operation and the Cambridge office, subject to these discussions, we anticipate that the marketplace will no longer accept new purchases after the end of August, 2016.

    We would like to thank you for all your support for Rakuten.co.uk since launch and we understand that you may have several questions in relation to this email. For a full list of FAQ’s please log into your Rakuten merchant account.
    If you have any further questions, please contact the merchant helpdesk via the below email address.
    merchant.helpdesk@rakuten.co.uk

    Rakuten UK Team

  • Mark
    1 year ago

    My heart goes out to those affected by job losses. Sadly I don’t think its a major surprise.

    Only last week, I contacted our account manager to ask for information on what we could do to increase visibility. However even with a product which was ranked 1st for a broad search term, our sales were split (for the same time period)

    eBay UK: 600 units
    Amazon UK: 1200 units
    Rakuten UK: 2 units

    The product had search visibility, its just that there was no-one on the site searching. The silence from my account manager after asking to close our account now makes a little more sense.

    Best wishes to all the staff and hope they find new jobs soon.

  • 1 year ago

    id imagine, game.co.uk will be positioning themselves to become the 3rd big entertainment seller now. its a wonder that hmv hasn’t got its 3rd part act together yet

  • Dennis Lloyd
    1 year ago

    Kamikaze is the word that springs to mind, Play,com was our best selling platform we did 75% of our business on the site, despite lots of work on our Rakuten site we never got it above 5%, Surely the brains at Rakuten could re-employ a few of the staff relaunching Play.com again as it was.

    Millions thrown away for them is ok but it has killed the business for a lot of loyal sellers.

  • Simon E
    1 year ago

    Just got the email from Rakuten.
    I think they have shot themselves in the foot for any future attempt at the UK.

    If they attempt it, they will be met with ridicule and “NOT ON YOUR NELLY”.

    Maybe this is the chance that Ebid needs to move into 3rd place B-)

  • Lee Pearce
    1 year ago

    All we have received is a message link from the back office;

    Rakuten plans to close Rakuten.co.uk

    We regret to inform you that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, Rakuten has decided to consider plans to close Rakuten.co.uk to shoppers from the end of August 2016.

    This is part of a European business review aimed at ensuring that Rakuten is able to redevelop our offer to match customer and merchant expectations in an ever-changing market.

    Rakuten has started to talk with employees around the closure of both the operation and the Cambridge office, subject to these discussions, we anticipate that the marketplace will no longer accept new purchases after the end of August 2016. Rakuten will keep the merchant backend (RMS) open until the end of the year in order to allow for refunds and chargebacks and to search for past orders.

    Rakuten will inform all merchants once the plan has been fixed. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please refer to the FAQ below which explains our plans or contact our merchant helpdesk via the below email address.

    FAQ

    Q. When will the marketplace be closed?

    The Rakuten.co.uk marketplace is planned to be closed at the end of August 2016. No new orders will be placed by shoppers after the end of August 2016.

    Q. What do merchants need to do to follow-up after the closure of marketplace at the end of August 2016?

    Merchants need to dispatch all orders placed by shoppers before September 5th. All open orders will be cancelled by Rakuten on 5th Sep.
    The remaining duties of the merchants are explained in the latter part of this FAQ. Rakuten plans to keep the merchant backend open until the end of this year so merchants can continue to use this backend to complete remaining tasks such as returns. If anything changes, Rakuten will inform all merchants accordingly. If you have any questions, please contact merchant.helpdesk@rakuten.co.uk

    Q. Will there be any changes for pay-out procedure? How will I receive my daily pay-outs?

    All pay-outs will be continued in exactly the same manner as before. If any changes are planned, Rakuten will inform merchants in advance.

    Q. Will there be any changes for monthly fee payment?

    Rakuten will not charge monthly fees starting from June 2016. If you have any questions about invoices, please contact paymentqueries@bank.rakuten.eu

    Q. What happens to any Ads for which I have already pre-paid the fees?

    The booking will be automatically cancelled for any Ads to be posted after June 7th 2016. We will refund fees for any cancelled Ads. Rakuten will contact relevant merchants separately after September to explain the procedure for refund.

    Q. What happens to my R-mail?

    The R-mail service will end at the end of August 2016. As agreed based on the T&Cs, Rakuten will not disclose shoppers email addresses in R-mail. If you have any concerns relating to R-mail, please contact merchant.helpdesk@rakuten.co.uk

    Q. I submitted sensitive information to Rakuten including the documents for compliance check (i.e. KYC documents). How will Rakuten treat this information?

    Under the financial regulation of Luxembourg, Rakuten Europe Bank (REB) is obliged to keep KYC documents for a minimum of 5 years. REB will comply with this legal obligation and keep the documents submitted in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.

    Q. How should I handle returns?

    Please handle returns as usual, merchants can continue to use the merchant backend which will be accessible until the end of 2016. If any changes are planned, Rakuten will inform merchants in advance. Please be reminded that, return/refund procedures with shoppers need to be fulfilled even after the planned marketplace closure at the end of August 2016. Rakuten will provide more concrete guidance at the beginning of August.

    Q. How can I get all of my past invoices from Rakuten?

    Once all transactions have been completed after August, Rakuten will distribute all past invoices via email. We will inform all merchants once we are ready to dispatch these invoices.

    Q. Can I use the personal information of shoppers which I obtain through transactions on Rakuten.co.uk even after the closure of marketplace?

    No, you cannot use the personal information of shoppers other than for the purpose of completing the sales /follow-up of claims from shoppers relating to the sale of your products via the Rakuten platform. Please note that any use of the personal information of shoppers contrary to that listed above or other than as agreed by shoppers in our privacy policy is strictly prohibited, and will violate data protection law.

    Q. I would like to stop trading on Rakuten marketplace. What is the procedure?

    Please contact us at the below email address for our contract termination procedure.
    merchant.helpdesk@rakuten.co.uk

    Q. What will happen with chargebacks?

    Any chargeback that is claimed against Rakuten will be forwarded to the relevant individual merchant even after the planned marketplace closure at the end of August 2016. We ask all merchants to comply with such enquires in order to prevent fraudulent acts, whether the contract has been terminated or not.

    Q. What is the process for Pre-orders?

    We would ask that any pre-orders currently live on Rakuten.co.uk be removed before W/C 13th June.
    For pre-orders that have already been purchased and were planned to be shipped after 1st September, Rakuten asks you to cancel such orders immediately via the merchant backend.

    Q. How can I respond to any shoppers if they ask me directly about the planned closure of Rakuten.co.uk

    We apologize for any inconvenience if such enquiry comes to you. Please guide those shoppers to our corporate PR site. http://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/

    Q. How can I respond to shoppers if they ask me directly about their Super Points?

    Please forward enquiry to below.
    customercare@rakuten.co.uk

    Q. What will happen with any planned marketing activities?

    From 8th June, all promotional activity on Rakuten.co.uk will cease. If you have activity planned in beyond this date, unfortunately it will not take place.

    Q. Do I have to settle the fees that I owe to Rakuten?

    Yes, Rakuten will inform all merchants regarding their balance and will ask you to pay the fee owed to Rakuten. This is planned in September once all transactions have been completed.

  • Simon E
    1 year ago

    Just seen this too……

    https://rms.rakuten.co.uk/contents/static/doc/notice/main.htm

    Q. Will there be any changes for monthly fee payment?

    Rakuten will not charge monthly fees starting from June 2016. If you have any questions about invoices, please contact paymentqueries@bank.rakuten.eu

  • glenn nixon
    1 year ago

    they should of just kept the name play.com and improved the selling/buying expericence , pretty simple thing to do
    turnover on play.com was £60,000 a year which was ok after ebay and amazon , then change to raketun was £200 in 6 months ?

  • 1 year ago

    Sad news for everyone involved with the company – but have to agree the re-branding from Play.com (in the UK) and Buy.com (in the US) was IMHO madness. Apparently Rakuten means “Optimism” in Japanese – but it’s just not that memorable in English. Why spend money on a great brand and then throw it in the bin?

  • Geoff
    1 year ago

    Total and utter shambles since they took over Play.com – hardly unexpected but wasted many thousands of hours of UK Sellers time in setting up, relisting for virtually no return. If they ever try to re-launch in the UK I for one would NOT entertain them. The people at the top deserve to lose their jobs, just a shame about the troops!

  • 1 year ago

    We nearly invested in integration on to Rakuten, phew thankfully we didn’t. Isn’t this just another example of how scary it is that we rely on Ebay and/or Amazon so much.

  • dvdgaming
    1 year ago

    I suspect that google will pay them very handsomely for the play.com url

    we used to do good business with them, but it started going downhill as soon as rakuten took over.

    I did once ask play.com (the retail part before Rakuten closed it, and when they still had the offshore advantage of shipping from Jersey), what quantity they expected to sell of a medium to high profile dvd movie when it was the deal of the day. apparently 20K units.

  • Sean
    1 year ago

    No surprise really, My £30 per month subscription to sell on this site was only not cancelled as I did not have the time to do so. My product sales barely covered its fee either and that is shocking compared to my 500k turnover on Amazon. Shopify will be next as those sales are even less than Rakuten ! ZERO in twelve months so that will take some beating.

  • 1 year ago

    absolutely gutted about this, the amount of time, money and effort that we have invested in this platform in the last 6 months for them to just give up is heartbreaking we, dont sell on amazon just our own website and ebay, but were slowly starting to see a return.
    sad day for independent multichannel sellers.

  • SNOWY
    1 year ago

    We did really well selling on Play.com, had an account manager and everything was great. They decided we were to small for the rebranding and kicked us off along with many other sellers. Cant really say I have any sympathy for the group, but wish all employees well and hope they find alternative employement.

  • elvis
    1 year ago

    play.com was great. Was my 3rd biggest market place after ebay and amazon but was number one in terms of working together as a business. My play.com account manager was always available via phone or email and helped with so many issues and queries. It was never the same after rakuten took over.

  • 1 year ago

    They’ve also pulled out the rug from under the feet of any possible future market entrants looking to compete with Amazon in the UK as no seller will now waste their time and money on looking at new propositions.

  • 1 year ago

    Having worked in the London office for 6 months it’s a sad day for all the guys that decided to stay on.

    Anyone that signed up over the past year I have no sympathy for you. The signs to not sign up have been here for at least 2 years. New CEO, lots of redundancy’s, re-branding to something people can’t spell etc etc. (That and nearly every comment ever written on Tamebay pointed you in the right direction; ‘no sales’, ‘no communication’ ‘waste of time’ etc etc)

    Goodbye Rakuten!

  • Gemma
    1 year ago

    We’ve just spent a considerable amount of money on completing our Rakuten integration which in in its final testing phase and due to go live this week, having been working closely with our account manager and technical team who quite clearly had no idea that this was on the horizon, and I was shocked to get the email.

    It’s been a complete waste of time, money and effort, but ultimately it is a sad day for online retailing. Any marketplace that offers choice and competition for eBay and Amazon can only be a good thing, and had they persevered and done it properly, it could have only improved.

  • Jay
    1 year ago

    Im not in marketing or branding but changing from the catchy Play.com to the Japanese word Rakuten actually screamed at me WTF at the time. Very sad all round but not surprising.

    • Sam
      1 year ago

      Yeah, I was like how do I spell that again.
      I remember years ago I worked in travel and Thomas Cook changed there name to JMC. It lasted a YEAR and they had to repaint all the planes again back to Thomas Cook.
      Least people know the name PLAY, people take forever in the UK to accept anything new like a name. People has short attentions these days, and if they cannot even remember the name to put in a search engine.

  • Sam
    1 year ago

    I had an account with Play but results were nothing compared to eBay and Amazon.
    Rakuten offered me shop last year, then I took into account the monthly fee on top of my FBA account and eBay featured store. Decided not to go for it. Just searching for products on Rakuten was a nightmare. I decided not to go for it.
    They actually ruined PLAY. I used to SHOP on Play but never used Rakuten for one purchase.
    I actually went on GAME marketplace in the end and only as there is no shop fee otherwise I would not. It was the shop fee that put me off.
    You have to get the traffic to justify it, and make the search work.

  • Robzon
    1 year ago

    We joined play.com in 2012 just after it was taken over by Rakuten.

    Started off OK then sales plummeted about a year in, then Rakuten did the rebrand, closed the old system down and requested we pay up an expensive 6 months subscription if we wanted to get back on.

    With the already dire sales we didn’t even bother.

    My guess is Rakuten bought play.com since it was the best alternative to the ebay/amazon duopoly. Some genius at rakuten management thought doing the following was a great idea.

    1) rebrand from play.com, a well known shopping website with an established customer base, to Rakuten, completely unknown outside Japan.
    2) Then hit the self destruct button, kick off all the third party sellers, which comprises 100% of of the website inventory. Now we are left with a webstie with diddly squat inventory on it. Customers vote with their wallets and leave in droves.
    3) Half heartedly re invite a couple of sellers they just threw out to come back, but on the condition have to fork up a whopping 6 months of pricey subscription fees to join. Unfortunately the customers have long gone.

    Absolute genius. Should go down in a college textbook as a case study in disaster turnarounds.

    A real shame, because play.com was the only alternative to ebay/amazon. I dislike amazon and ebay both equally because ebay encourages buyer fraud and is generally getting lower in seller quality, while Amazon has draconian account suspension rules and because of this an extremely risky place to sell if your entire business depends on it.

  • Lee Pearce
    1 year ago

    We have taken more sales on Rakuten since the announcement then the previous month (low starting point), can only assume buyers are using up their points!

  • 1 year ago

    I was about to close my account anyway as our sales barely cover our account fees. They really ballsed up the transition from play and should have left it alone. Muppets.

  • Gary Z
    1 year ago

    “Epic Fail” …Why? Once again the ‘Board Room’ listen to so-called experts in addition to patting themselves on the back for every monumental decision.
    When will they listen to Jo-Average who is the lifeblood of any business, the consumer?
    For years, many associates and I spent hundreds of pounds regularly with Play.com because of the exceptional service. New release entertainment media was Always delivered on the Friday or Saturday prior to the Monday release = Geek Heaven for the weekend viewing/gaming.
    ‘Play-Trade’ was always a Big Bonus for casual/private sellers who wanted to off-load old media with No upfront costs.
    Did the ‘Executives’ not realise that Sellers are Buyers too…? Preventing someone selling reduces their disposable income which inevitably reduces spending.
    Once the above factors were removed, there was No Unique Selling Proposition or “why on earth would I shop with Rakuten? They don’t offer me anything that I can’t get, and receive within the same time, elsewhere….”
    Listen to the Geek.

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