Amazon Envy: Rakuten Builds Own Distribution Centers

Big shake-up in Japan’s $70 billion e-commerce market: Rakuten, Japan’s leading virtual mall (over 30,000 merchants, over 50 million customer accounts), is about to launch an attack against its biggest (yet indirect) rival), Amazon Japan.

The biggest difference between the two sites is that Rakuten is a B2B2C platform without a warehousing function. But that’s about to change very soon, as Rakuten is planning to build its own distribution centers (and offer same-day shipping to customers – just like Amazon Japan does).

The first such center (23,000sqm) will be set up in Chiba and run by Rakuten itself starting this fall, followed by at least five more centers by 2013. That first center is expected to handle around 100,000 items daily. For shipping, Rakuten plans to cooperate with external delivery services such as Yamato Holdings.

The motivation for Rakuten is to make faster deliveries to people shopping on the site and to be able to ship items ordered at different stores in the same package, possibly pushing down delivery prices to customers, too. Same-delivery services for over around 150,000 items are to begin this year.


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Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.