Tokyo, October 15, 2013 – Rakuten, Inc. announced today that it has acquired Spotlight Inc., a service provider of an app for smartphones that awards app users redeemable points in exchange for visiting participating merchant stores. Spotlight will be made a wholly-owned subsidiary. The acquisition price was not disclosed.
Spotlight has provided Smapo, Japan’s first redeemable point service that automatically detects users’ visit to participant store using a smartphone app since September 2011. Smapo app users receive redeemable points simply by walking into a Smapo merchant store and tapping checking-in button on the smartphone app, regardless of purchase. Accumulated points can be redeemed for gift certificates or meal vouchers issued by participating merchants. Smapo merchant stores can decide the number of points awarded to app users, and moreover the service offers performance-based payment system, reflecting the number of users that actually visit the store, which makes the service more cost effective for driving customer traffic.
In recent years, the penetration of the smartphone has resulted in the rapid development of online-to-offline (O2O) markets for supporting the sales promotion efforts of physical stores via internet services. Amidst this backdrop, Smapo utilized its proprietary ultrasound detection platform and leading position in the market to expand the number of participating merchant stores. Today, the company has established a leading track record in Japan for driving customer traffic to physical stores. The participating merchant stores have expanded to some 90 brands covering 700 locations in 23 prefectures, with participating merchants now including mainly retail outlets such as apparel, commercial facilities, department stores, and supermarkets, among others.
Rakuten will leverage Japan’s largest online membership base retained by the Rakuten Group to strengthen Smapo’s ability to drive customer traffic and expand the number of participating merchants. In addition, Rakuten will examine a possible service that utilizes the detection platform provided to Smapo participating merchants, to drive Rakuten Group members to physical stores as part of its commitment to further strengthen the O2O business.