Rakuten Ichiba is synonymous with e-commerce in Japan. But over its two decades in business, Rakuten Group has successfully branched out into a number of other industries, including finance (establishing Japan’s most popular credit card), sports (operating successful sports teams and international sports partnerships), and telecommunications (launching a groundbreaking mobile network) － to name but a few.
Today, Rakuten operates over 70 different businesses in Japan alone, supporting the diverse lifestyles of users from all walks of life through the convenience of the internet. Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known － but nonetheless indispensable － services that many of our users in Japan have come to love.
Rakuma: An online ‘flea market’
In the early days of the internet, auction sites were the go-to place for finding second-hand goods. Sellers would post their used items for other users to find and bid on, hoping they would outbid each other and push the price up.
But with the end of the 00s came the rise of the smartphone, and with it, the app economy. The used-goods landscape underwent a dramatic transformation to cater to the needs of a new generation of smartphone users. Less savvy with PCs, websites and complex bidding systems, these new users turned to apps like Rakuma as a new avenue to hunt for － and sell － used treasure.
After joining forces with another major ‘flea market’ app, Fril, in 2018, Rakuma is now a major player in the C2C space in Japan.
Rakuten ROOM: E-commerce meets social media
One innovative service launched in 2014 combines e-commerce and social media: Rakuten ROOM allows shoppers to post pictures of their purchases to their very own page for other shoppers to peruse.
Just like similar social media platforms, ROOM allows users to follow one another, like and save each other’s posts. What stands out about ROOM, however, is that each post links to the Rakuten Ichiba page from which the author bought their item. If a reader chooses to buy that item through the link, the author receives a small percentage of the sale price back in Rakuten Points.
With much of 2020 and 2021 spent at home, Rakuten ROOM has grown considerably as users not only look to declutter, but to make their living environments as comfortable and stylish as possible.
Rakuten Car: A unique marketplace
Japan’s rich and unique automobile culture is known throughout the world. But whether you’re a motorhead or just trying to get from A to B, it can prove quite a headache to navigate Japan’s complex procedures surrounding registration, inspections and budgeting.
Fortunately, Rakuten Car has you covered. It’s more than just a marketplace for buying and selling used cars: to facilitate the process even further, Rakuten Car even offers valuation services and a free return policy for those who want to ride their vehicle before committing.
The service also allows users to find and reserve shaken (Japan’s biennial vehicle inspection system), have their tires changed, get insured, reserve a wash and polish at a gas station and － of course － earn points every step of the way.
The Rakuten Car Magazine is also a treasure trove of advice on budgeting, maintenance, fuel economy, customization and plenty more for car nerds and regular folk alike.
Rakuten Fashion: What’s hot on the streets of Japan?
Japan is a famously fashionable place. Witnessing the astonishing variety of styles and tastes on display in Tokyo alone, fashion-conscious visitors often find themselves stopping and asking themselves, Just where did they find a pair of pants like that?
Rakuten Fashion is an online fashion shopping website made up of popular fashion brand shops that allows users to find and purchase their favorite fashion items from a wide selection of products. In addition to an extensive, easily-browsable treasure trove of fashionable items, Rakuten Fashion also integrates handy features like a fit advisor for finding the perfect size, and a look-coordinator to help you achieve your dream outfit.
Rakuten Beauty: A bit of self-care
And what better way to complete your look than a trip to the salon?
Rakuten is also one of Japan’s most popular destinations for finding and booking your next beauty appointment. Everything from head-spas to kimono fittings, perms to massages － the Rakuten Beauty site has what you need to conduct some self-care.
The service also runs the Raku Lab, a magazine-style collection of curated articles from expert beauticians. The site is full of tips and tricks and answers to users’ most burning questions about coloring, perms, nails and makeup.
Rakuten Rebates: Loyalty points for everything you do
One thing that all of the above services have in common is that users can earn Rakuten Points for everything they do, and spend them elsewhere in the Rakuten ecosystem. This popular loyalty program is what binds Rakuten’s many services together.
But Rakuten Rebates allows users to take their point-earning efforts even further. The service connects shoppers with stores, brands, and even travel agencies from which they can earn back a chunk of their order price － sometimes as high as 20% － in the form of Rakuten Points.*
Through these collaborations, other brands can utilize Rakuten’s strong online presence to send traffic their way, while passing on savings to Rakuten users.
*Only stores that accept Rakuten Pay are eligible for this service.