EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2977 - January 11, 2013     3 of 5

Buy.com Becomes Rakuten.com Shopping

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Online marketplace Buy.com is changing its name to Rakuten.com Shopping, and starting January 31, the Buy.com URL will redirect to Rakuten.com. Rakuten.com Shopping will continue to support U.S. merchants and goods.

The only minor difference that sellers will notice, according to Bernard Luthi, CMO and COO of Rakuten.com Shopping, is that their storefronts will be hosted on the Rakuten.com shopping marketplace beginning January 31.

Rakuten acquired Buy.com in 2010 and has 10,000 employees worldwide and operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. Rakuten Inc. said since the acquisition, Buy.com has undergone a "gradual, successful transition that will continue the company's efforts to empower local shops of all sizes and enhance the consumer experience."

Luthi said over time, the range of products on Rakuten.com Shopping will expand under the rebranding as an international storefront will be made available to all shoppers. The Buy.com brand will continue to offer over 3.2 million products across 15 categories within the Rakuten.com Shopping marketplace.

Last May, Buy.com had redesigned its homepage to be more merchant-centric with the idea that shoppers prefer to buy from people "rather than a faceless Internet." On Thursday Luthi said this makes Rakuten.com Shopping a unique BtoBtoC marketplace that is shop-centric, not product-centric. "This makes it unlike other CtoC marketplaces as well as different from a traditional BtoC inventory model. With Rakuten.com Shopping, we're creating an environment that suits a shoppers wants and needs and encourages a greater level of discovery in their shopping behavior."

When asked if there would be any changes to the third-party merchant program as a result of the rebranding, Luthi said, merchants would continue to receive the same benefits as always including training through Rakuten University, ongoing insights through E-commerce Consultants (ECCs), participation at Rakuten Expo live events, and customizable shops to engage consumers.

Over the next year, Rakuten.com Shopping will be rolling out a series of innovative ecommerce features for merchants through its "storefront toolkit" that includes video services, social media integrations, live chat and direct email capabilities.

Video has a big influence on purchasing, Luthi said. "Between reviews and demos and enhancing the mobile experience, video is bringing products to life in new ways for the online shopper." He said Rakuten.com Shopping's in-house TV studio will air new content each week, sharing the latest tech reviews, product reviews and entertainment trends with insights provided by shop owners, industry experts and product specialists across industries.

A variety of new consumer features will also be implemented to allow for a greater customized user experience and seamless browsing throughout the site.

Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani will be giving a keynote address at the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago in June.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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