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Partner Relations

Relations with Business Partners

The robust support of business partners who have joined us on our journey with a firm belief in the future of the Rakuten Group and the Internet has been absolutely essential to the existence of the Group and our growth.

Rakuten Ichiba, which opened in 1997 when Japan was mired in recession, was created with a desire to invigorate the country. We wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for merchants to set up shop on the Internet, because merchants are masters at maximizing customer satisfaction through good service, as opposed to having people who are good at developing IT systems sell products. The service was launched initially with 13 shops. Various improvements were repeatedly made, both system-related and in marketing, to make the operation of a shop even easier. Our business has expanded in this way, and today we continue to make every effort to provide services in tune with the times. We continue to push ahead with all our business partners to realize our mission, which remains unchanged since our founding.

Sharing Information to Build Further Trust

The Internet makes it possible to transmit information without any geographic limitations, and so provides a host of business opportunities to business owners, including the ability to dramatically expand their markets at a low cost. On the other hand, customer needs change quickly and businesses face the danger of having dissatisfaction with services spreading at speeds previously unimaginable. Providing highly conscientious service is a must. Given this reality, the Rakuten Group is totally committed to maximizing customer satisfaction by sharing information through face-to-face communication whenever possible, even as an Internet company, in order to build trust with our many business partners.

The Rakuten New Year's Conference and Rakuten Expo are held at six locations around the country to engage face-to-face with Rakuten Ichiba partners twice a year. We share business strategies for Rakuten Ichiba, determine themes for the year based on contemporary trends, and work to solve problems faced by partners.
Guest lecturers from outside the Group are invited to give the keynote address, and initiatives are conducted to provide helpful hints for business success. The conferences not only allow Rakuten to interact with its partners but also enable partners to communicate with one another. Rakuten Expo 2009, held in the summer of 2009, brought together some 4,000 partners.
Rakuten Travel also conducts the Rakuten Travel New Year's Conference for hotels, traditional inns and other lodging facilities for the same purpose. Participants gather once a year at seven locations to discuss a variety of topics and share the views of guests on travel and vacationing. The conferences bring many partners together, with some 2,800 people participating in 2008.

Rakuten University and Rakuten Travel College
Rakuten University was established in 2000 to provide Rakuten Ichiba partners with expertise on e-commerce services. Rakuten Travel also started Rakuten Travel College in 2004 for hotels, traditional inns and other lodging facilities. Partner successes and issues are compiled and the information is summarized and communicated in a systematic manner, making the college a place for partners to solve the problems they face themselves.

(Related link) Rakuten Travel College

SOY Trip
Under this program, partners that have won the Rakuten Shop of the Year (SOY) award for Rakuten Ichiba's best shop, which is announced every year, travel abroad with us to observe trends overseas. Participants experience new ways of looking at the world and become better informed. It is thought of as a "trip to return to fundamentals" because it gives shop owners the opportunity to step away from day-to-day operations and take a wider view of their businesses.

Environmental Initiatives with Partners

Rakuten Books, which handles books, CDs, DVDs, games and other packaged products, has operated a distribution warehouse in partnership with Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Inc. (Nippan) ever since the founding of Rakuten Books, Inc. The warehouse, which conducts processes from inventory management to delivery, has upgraded packaging materials many times in response to the needs of customers and the environment, and each time packaging schemes are reviewed and improved.

Rakuten Books currently uses unbleached packaging materials, the most environmentally friendly option, and has switched from color to black and white printing. These changes were also possible thanks to the full cooperation of Nippan. Going forward, we plan to continue delivering products using packaging materials that are ecological and pleasing to customers, while constantly seeking the advice of Nippan.

Partnering with the Travel Industry and Contributing to Society as a Result

Rakuten Travel, our comprehensive travel site, actively partners with the travel industry. We receive extensive feedback from the Japan Ryokan Association, All Japan Ryokan Association, Japan City Hotel Association, and Japan Hotel Association and incorporate it into site management.

As a part of these activities, we partnered with the All Japan Ryokan Association to launch content that introduces "people-friendly" accommodations accredited by the association. The site makes it easy to find and make reservations at lodging facilities that are particularly guest-friendly in terms of facilities, service and dining.

Accommodations introduced by the site are "Silver Star" lodgings accredited by the All Japan Ryokan Association, with cooperation from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Accommodations are registered when they meet a certain set of standards, which include barrier-free facilities, bathrooms in guest rooms, handrails and other amenities that provide a pleasant, convenient stay for seniors in particular.

(Related link) Accredited by the All Japan Ryokan Hotel Association ("friendly Hotel")

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