Seeks to tap the Rs.62,000 crore e-commerce market
Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc. may enter India in the next six to eight months, and is seeking a strategic alliance to tap rapid growth in the country’s Rs.62,000 crore e-commerce market, said three persons familiar with the company’s plan.
Looks like Rakuten is exploring the possibility of starting a travel and hospitality portal in India, said one of the three persons, an executive with a large consulting company.
Rakuten has various businesses such as e-retail, travel and financial services (payment solutions). Its 100% subsidiary Rakuten Travel operates an online hotel reservation website with over 1.8 million room nights booked per month. The firm has access to more than 20,000 domestic and 15,000 international hotels and has a presence in South Korea and China.
Founded by Hiroshi Mikitani in 1997, Rakuten runs a multi-category shopping portal Rakuten Global Market and host of other portals such as Rakuten Coupons and TicketStar, among others. In the face of a stagnating Japanese economy and weak consumer sentiment, the Japanese firm has been aggressively eyeing global growth markets.
On a shopping spreee, Rakuten recently acquired Cyprus-based call and messaging app provider Viber Media Ltd for $900 million from Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco. In the last two years, it has bought US-based e-commerce portal Buy.com for $250 million and rebranded it “Rakuten.com Shopping,” e-reading platform Kobo, Spanish video streaming service Wuaki.tv and global video streaming platform Viki.
For the past few months, teams from Rakuten have been consulting investors, companies and industry experts as it explored the Indian market.
Experts say that since Rakuten’s strength lies in its online shopping business, it would make sense for the company to eventually enter that segment. The current foreign direct investment policy does not allow foreign capital in single- or multi-brand online retailing.