Guido Schulz, COO, Rakuten Germany

As the end of the year approaches, the temptation to relax and coast to the finish line can be difficult to resist. The same can be said about business. As you begin to see success and growth, it gets harder and harder to convince yourself to review every decision and question every move you’ve made.

Guido Schulz, Country Manager Commercial, Rakuten Germany

Guido Schulz, COO, Rakuten Germany

But that mindset – that drive to constantly question your assumptions and seek new ways to be even better – that is the Rakuten way. It’s the mindset that got us here in the first place and, in Rakuten Germany’s case, it’s what prompted us to make some very bold decisions in the second half of 2016 – bold decisions that have now paid off with record-breaking results.

Changing the game

In May we introduced Rakuten PRO, a unique model for quality-conscious merchants to sell online for a fraction of the usual fee. The measure allowed us to enhance product and service quality many times over.

In the second half of the year, we built on that innovation with improvements to the customer shopping experience, such as a new interface for customers to manage their accounts, the newly launched Rakuten Magazine and other great benefits for registered members. Then we went a step further again, changing a core feature of our biggest annual shopping event, the autumn Super Sale, so that it would be available to registered members only.

Making it count!

Those were bold steps for us, forcing us to invest heavily in our merchants and also focus on our core group of registered members. But they were necessary to ensure both our short-term and future growth. And we’re happy to report they paid off: We set new records for the highest number of new membership registrations in one year, the highest gross merchandise sales (GMS) for a Super Sale ever and the highest GMS for a single day ever.

Even more exciting for the team was that these efforts contributed to extraordinary year-on-year growth. Where experts are predicting this year’s online shopping growth rates in Germany at around 15%, we at Rakuten.de are set to grow at more than double that rate. That’s not something you achieve by sticking with the status quo.

When it comes to business, sometimes change is necessary to ensure that you continue growing without growing old. Sometimes you need to leave old models and assumptions behind.

With the announcement in November of Rakuten becoming FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner, the spotlight on us here in Europe is stronger than ever. The FC Barcelona partnership will no doubt present many more opportunities to rethink and reinvent our business. We look forward to that challenge.