Oh no. We just got word that top Japanese-based e-commerce platform Rakuten will be closing its marketplaces in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia by the end of March 2016.
Rakuten first started its expansion into the region when the company launched operations in Taiwan in 2008. In 2012, Rakuten announced their plans to launch an Internet shopping mall in Malaysia, Rakuten Online Shoping.
At that time, Rakuten Online Shopping President and Chief Executive Officer Masaya Ueno said, “Malaysia is an attractive market owing to its economic stability and well-equipped infrastructure for the development of e-commerce, including Internet, logistics and online payment facilities. Malaysia market growth and encouraging online shopping trends present Rakuten with a bright opportunity in this market. The market indications validate our timely entry into the market.”
The e-commerce service recruited mid-sized and large retailers across industries in Malaysia to offer a diverse mix of product categories, including consumer electronics, computer and IT, healthcare, fashion apparels, jewellery, and accessories.
Unlike existing shopping sites, Rakuten Online Shopping employed Japan’s world famous customer service standards and innovative collaborations with reliable partners to deliver a trusted shopping environment that is efficient, hassle-free, and secure.
Alas, that service will cease to exist next month. And according to e27, as a result of the shutdown, Rakuten will lay off about 150 employees. The company will also assist with finding employment and giving severance packages “above and beyond legal requirements”, it said.
Rakuten didn’t elaborate on the specific reason for the closures, except to say that the moves are in line with what it dubs a Vision 2020 transformation. But Malaysia will not be the only country affected as Rakuten is also in the midst of selling off Tarad, an e-commerce site in Thailand that it acquired in 2009. In the place of these marketplaces, it plans to introduce its consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace mobile app, called Rakuma, in Southeast Asia.
Note: A C2C marketplace is a marketing platform that involves person-to-person trading. Popular C2C marketplaces in the region are such as Carousell and Shopee.
Despite the closures, the company will still maintain its regional Asian headquarters in Singapore, as well as its other businesses including Rakuten Ventures and Rakuten Travel.