If you plan on shopping at Buy.com in the future, you will need to start practicing your Japanese.  The site has been purchased by Japan’s huge e-commerce firm, Rakuten.  Essentially Japan’s version of Amazon.com, Rakuten purchased the site for $250 million back in 2010, and since that time has been working on a redesign.  The redesign comes with a name change complete with pronunciation guide.  It will now be simply known as Rakuten, or “rack”-”ah”-”ten”, which means optimism.

Japan's Version of Amazon Buys Buy.com


Though it may in essence be Japan’s version of Amazon, the differences are clear cut.  Rakuten provides more of a virtual shopping experience, whereas Amazon provides the user with more of a search engine type of experience.  When browsing through Rakuten for an item, you will be taken to the virtual storefront of the retailer of that item.  Rakuten also uses strategies such as points rewards and deals offered only through their site.  They also offer a huge inventory of unique items, due to their vast number of merchants.  Rakuten also currently has a “Global Market” where cross-border purchases are offered on some products.

In Japan, Rakuten is a household name.  It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of the population are members of the giant online shopping mall.  In Japan they have many other endeavors as well.  Their other businesses include a bank and securities firm, as well as online travel, auction and e-books. They also have a baseball team, the Rakuten Eagles.

Some speculate that their success in Japan can be mainly attributed to the fact that the timing of the launch of their business coincided with the expansion of the Internet into homes.  Be that as it may, they are looking to expand upon that success by bringing their business model to the United States. As a part of their quest to create a global mall, Rakuten has already converted other acquisitions in other countries, including Brazil and Germany.  They are also planning on expanding into the U.K. in the near future.  For Rakuten, their optimism may certainly be warranted.

[Image via global.rakuten]