TOKYO, October 6, 2011 -- Rakuten, Inc. (“Rakuten,” Chairman and CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani, Head Office: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo), operator of Japan’s largest Internet shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba, today announced the launch of “Rakuten S4,” a social commerce service that utilizes social networking sites (SNS) aimed at the nearly 37,000 merchants that use Rakuten Ichiba.
Rakuten assists merchants in creating pages on social media sites, such as Facebook and mixi, with about 4,200 merchant commencing services as of launch date. Going forward, services will be gradually expanded to include all merchants with a presence on Rakuten Ichiba.
Rakuten S4 enables merchants on Rakuten Ichiba to easily set up and run their own page on multiple social media sites, such as Facebook and mixi. To date, Rakuten has expanded various services that help foster communication between merchants and users, such as “R-Mail,” an email magazine, “Tencho no Heya Plus+,” a blog for merchants, and “Minna no Review,” a merchant review feature for users. The launch of Rakuten S4 will help to further boost two-way communication between merchants and users, with the ultimate aim of helping merchants capture customers that they were unable to reach until now.
Specifically, Rakuten will create pages on behalf of merchants that apply to use Rakuten S4 and provide a feature where merchants’ product information from Rakuten Ichiba will be automatically linked to these pages. This will enable merchants to automatically post product information on their social media pages simply by registering this information first on their Rakuten Ichiba page.
As a first step, merchants will be able to set up a Facebook page, with plans to expand this to include a mixi page before the end of 2011. During 2011, Rakuten S4 will be provided free of charge, but after the start of 2012 the service will charge 3,000 yen per month and 1% of all merchant sales in a pay-as-you-go system.
Going forward, Rakuten plans to support sales promotions by streaming the latest information of each merchant through the Rakuten Ichiba official Facebook and mixi page “Rakuten Ichiba Okaimono-bu” as well as provide seminars to help merchants utilize social media sites for their online shops. Rakuten will also provide operational support after merchant social media pages are up and running.
With the recent sharp increases in social media adoption, Rakuten is leveraging various social media sites, such as Facebook, mixi and Twitter, to enhance the visibility of Rakuten Ichiba. Moving forward, Rakuten will utilize its long-standing expertise to help further strengthen relationships between merchants and users and expand its service content so that merchants can actively take advantage of social commerce opportunities, with the ultimate goal of boosting overall e-commerce.