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The Jakarta Post
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Rakuten sees fast growth, benefits from partnership

  • Mariel Grazella

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, June 21, 2013 | 10:34 am

Three years after its launch here, Japanese-affiliated online store Rakuten Belanja Online (RBO) has shown rapid growth, thanks to the growing preference for online shopping among Indonesians.

Mark Kirschner, the deputy marketing officer of Rakuten Inc., said the company'€™s online store in Indonesia was the group'€™s '€œfastest growing arm worldwide'€. '€œAll the other figures, including gross merchandise sales [GMS] and visitor traffic, has been very positive as well,'€ he said.

Rakuten stepped into the Indonesian market in 2010 via a joint venture company, PT Rakuten-MNC, formed with business conglomerate, the MNC Group.

Kirschner said RBO'€™s gross merchandise sales had grown by 115 percent throughout the first quarters of 2012-2013. '€œThe number of paid orders has also increased 257 percent year-on-year as of the first quarter of 2013.'€

Rakuten'€™s desktop site has seen three times more visits than its mobile site, while the number of orders made through mobile devices rose 438 percent annually. '€œOur mobile visit number has shot up 180 percent year-on-year,'€ he said. Kirschner said the company would ramp up its business after it saw a 129 percent take-up in the number of merchants showcasing their products and services on the marketplace-style e-commerce site.

'€œWe now have around 500 merchants, or shops,'€ he said. He said the online store showed even better growth than its units in mature markets, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, apparently due to Indonesia'€™s economic acceleration.

He added that under its border-less e-commerce system, which was launched in June, merchants at RBO were now connected to the Rakuten global platform.

This, he said, granted local merchants wider access to international markets. '€œHaving one platform makes cross-border buying and selling much easier,'€ he said.

He added that Rakuten adopted the new system because '€œthe trend is definitely heading toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)'€.

The TPP, a trade pact brought forward by the US, aims to intensify liberalization in trade and services. Indonesia is still mulling whether to enter discussions on the TPP.

Japan, however, recently announced its decision to participate in talks.

Kirschner added that to realize such borderless e-commerce business, the government should dismantle the array of trade barriers, including hefty regulations connected to customs and duties. '€œThe government must strike a balance between protecting customers but, at the same time, participating in the global economy,'€ he said.

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