Wal-Mart and Rakuten to launch online grocery delivery service Japan and new eBooks and audiobooks offering in the U.S.

Companies to launch online grocery delivery service in Japan and new eBooks and audiobooks offering in the U.S.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. and TOKYO, Japan, 2018-Jan-29 — /EPR Retail News/ — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) president and CEO Doug McMillon and Rakuten, Inc. Chairman, president and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani met in Tokyo today ( Jan. 25, 2018) to announce a new strategic alliance that leverages each company’s unique strengths and assets to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the U.S.

The collaboration includes the launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan beginning in the third quarter of 2018. In addition, Walmart and Rakuten Kobo Inc. have formed an exclusive retail alliance that will enable Walmart to begin selling eBooks and audiobooks, as well as offer Rakuten Kobo eReaders, in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com in the United States starting later this year.

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” McMillon said. “Here in Japan and everywhere we operate, we’re constantly exploring new ways to make every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile—no matter how customers want to shop. We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the U.S.”

Mikitani said, “As global leaders in e-commerce and offline shopping, Rakuten and Walmart are uniquely positioned to empower our customers around the world with innovative services.” He added, “We are excited to partner with Walmart because of its commitment to creating the best solutions to serve customers with low prices.”

Japan online grocery delivery service
Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a subsidiary of Walmart, have reached a basic agreement to establish a joint venture with the aim of launching a new online grocery delivery service in Japan, to be known as “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” The new service is planned to be launched in the latter half of 2018.

Rakuten and Seiyu will launch a new online grocery delivery service leveraging each of the companies’ strengths to offer a more convenient shopping experience that meets the changing needs of customers in Japan. Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper will aim to increase fulfillment capacity, enrich the merchandise offering and improve convenience for the customer. The service will aim to increase capacity in 2018 with the establishment of a dedicated fulfilment center, in addition to offering deliveries from Seiyu stores.

The new service’s merchandise offering will showcase Seiyu’s twin strengths of “quality” and “low prices.” To serve the needs of customers increasingly short on time for preparation, the service will include not only fresh produce and daily consumables but also a rich lineup of convenient items such as cut vegetables, partially-prepared foods and ready-meal kits, as well as popular local gourmet products from merchants on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace.

Furthermore, the new service will utilize Rakuten’s deep expertise in e-commerce to offer a site with an optimized user experience, as well as leveraging big data and AI to offer a more personalized merchandise offering.

Customers using the new service will enjoy the benefit of being able to earn and use Rakuten Super Points, also allowing them to use their points on more than 70 services within the Rakuten ecosystem.

Rakuten Kobo U.S. eReading Service
As part of this alliance, Walmart will become Rakuten Kobo’s exclusive mass retail partner for the Kobo brand in the U.S., offering Kobo’s nearly six million titles from thousands of publishers and hundreds of thousands of authors to Walmart.com customers. Walmart.com will offer eBooks and audiobooks for sale later this year. Walmart will also sell digital book cards in stores, enabling more than 4,000 stores to carry a broader selection of books for customers.

All eBook content will be accessible through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded app available on all iOS and Android devices, a desktop app and Kobo e-Readers, which will also be sold at Walmart later this year.

“Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the U.S. Our strategy from day one has been to partner with the world’s best retailers, so that they can easily offer their customers the option of reading digitally. This informs the software and devices we create, the books and authors we promote, and also the partnerships we build,” said Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn. “For us, this is another great opportunity to serve book lovers at Walmart, those people who make reading an important part of their lives.”

About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. The company’s legal name will become Walmart Inc., effective on Feb. 1, 2018, to reflect its growing status as an omni-channel retailer. Each week, over 260 million customers and members visit our more than 11,600 stores under nearly 59 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites in 11 countries. With fiscal year 2017 revenue of $485.9 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart.

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1 billion members around the world. Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 30 of Forbes Magazine’s annual “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list. The Rakuten Group has over 14,000 employees, and operations in 29 countries and regions. For more information visit https://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

About Seiyu
Seiyu operates retail chain stores nationwide from Hokkaido to Kyushu, selling fresh food, groceries, apparel, general merchandise and other products. We are striving to deliver our customers “Our Promise”: Offering everyday needs at unbeatable prices at the quality they want through the channel they prefer to shop, such as stores, and online grocery delivery service, which provides them with highly valuable shopping experience of key attributes for differentiation: “Price Leadership”, “Quality and Freshness”, “Product Assortment” and “Convenience”. Fully leveraging the global network and creditworthiness of our parent company, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., we will actively develop attractive sales floors to better suit the preference and needs of Japanese customers.

About Rakuten Kobo Inc.
Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s most innovative eReading services offering nearly 6 million eBooks and audiobooks to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides people with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a wide variety of E Ink eReaders to suit any Reader’s style including Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura H2O, and Kobo Aura ONE; along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple® and Android®. Kobo’s award-wining eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit www.kobo.com.

Media Inquiries:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Media Relations
+1 (479)273-4314
news.walmart.com/reporter

Rakuten, Inc.
Corporate Communications Department
global-pr@mail.rakuten.com
(+81) 50-5817-1104

Seiyu GK
Public Relations
+81-3-3598-7760

Rakuten Kobo Inc.
PR & Communications
kobo-pr@mail.rakuten.com

Source: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Rakuten opens its pro sports merchandise store Rakuten SPORTS ZONE featuring premium goods from NBA Legends

Rakuten opens its pro sports merchandise store Rakuten SPORTS ZONE featuring premium goods from NBA Legends

 

Featuring premium goods from NBA Legends

TOKYO, 2017-Dec-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc., a global marketing partner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), today (Dec. 13, 2017) opened its pro sports merchandise store Rakuten SPORTS ZONE to further build excitement around the NBA in Japan. The store is launching with sales of limited-edition items including autographed items from NBA Legends.

In October 2017, Rakuten launched a multiyear partnership with the NBA, making it a global marketing partner of the organization. With this partnership, Rakuten is now operating the “NBA ZONE” in its internet shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba as a special page gathering NBA merchandise from Rakuten Ichiba stores. With the opening of the new Rakuten SPORTS ZONE, offering products that can rarely be obtained in Japan such as premium goods of former NBA stars, we will be able to further expand the product lineup offered in the NBA ZONE.

Offerings include limited-edition autographed memorabilia (with serial number) offered by the Upper Deck Company, and reproductions of the jerseys of 80s and 90s NBA stars offered by the American sports apparel-maker Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. New products will be added going forward.

Rakuten will leverage its diverse range of services to further promote the NBA and basketball in Japan, and contribute to the further development of sports and culture.

Rakuten SPORTS ZONE Overview
Title: Rakuten SPORTS ZONE
Opening Date & Time: 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Products:
Autographed 1997-98 Chicago Bulls Jersey
Autographed “Last Shot” Art Print
Authentic 1984-85 L.A. Lakers Jersey
Authentic 1985-86 Boston Celtics Jersey
Authentic 1985-86 Chicago Bulls Jersey

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

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Rakuten opens registrations for “Rakuten NBA Special” monthly subscription service

Offering nine NBA live games per week for a monthly fee of 972 yen

Tokyo, 2017-Oct-17 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. announced that from today (OCTOBER 16, 2017) it will begin accepting registrations for “Rakuten NBA Special,” a monthly subscription service offering fans access to selected live NBA games through Rakuten TV, Rakuten’s video-on-demand service. The service is part of the recently announced partnership between Rakuten and the National Basketball Association (NBA) that saw Rakuten become the league’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live NBA games.

Launching on October 18 with the opening games of the 2017-18 season, the Rakuten NBA Special will offer fans the opportunity to enjoy selected live NBA games with Japanese commentary. Fans who subscribe to the service with their Rakuten membership ID on the dedicated Rakuten NBA Special site on Rakuten TV will be able to watch nine games per week (one game per weekday and two games each on Saturdays and Sundays), a total of more than 200 games a year*1, both live and on-demand*2, for 972 yen (tax included) per month*3.

In addition to select regular season games featuring all 30 teams of the NBA, Rakuten NBA Special subscribers will also have access to the NBA All-Star game, selected playoff games, the NBA Conference Finals and The Finals. The service will launch with the opening games of the 2017-18 season between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets (tip-off at 11:00 JST, October 18) and the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics (tip-off at 9:00 JST, October 18).

Through its comprehensive media partnership with the NBA in Japan, Rakuten aims to expand the fan base of the NBA and contribute to the development of basketball in the country.

*1 A minimum of 200 games per season will be made available through Rakuten NBA Special.
*2 Games will be available for on-demand viewing for a period of one month (tentative) after the original live stream concludes.
*3 For Rakuten TV, one month refers to the period from the first day to the last day of the month. In the first month, the period is from the day of registration to the end of the month. From the second month, subscriptions will automatically renew on the first of every month.

Overview of the Rakuten NBA Special service

Overview: A subscription package offering nine NBA games per week (one game per weekday and two games each on Saturdays and Sundays)
Service launch: October 18, 2017 9:00 am
Official website: https://tv.rakuten.co.jp/nba/
Monthly fee: 972 yen (tax included)
Payment: Credit card or smartphone carrier payment (Docomo, AU, SoftBank)
* Users who pay by credit card can use Rakuten Super Points to pay the first month’s fees. Users who pay by smartphone carrier payment cannot use Rakuten Super Points.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten becomes exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live NBA games and global marketing partner of NBA

Rakuten to Market to NBA Fans Around the World Through Rakuten Ichiba, Ebates and Rakuten Viber

TOKYO, 2017-Oct-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Rakuten, Inc. today (OCTOBER 10, 2017) announced a multiyear partnership making Rakuten the league’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live NBA games and a global marketing partner of the NBA.  This marks the NBA’s most comprehensive media partnership in Japan and Rakuten’s first with a North American sports league.

This season, Rakuten will offer NBA LEAGUE PASS, the league’s premium live game subscription service, exclusively to Rakuten members in Japan through NBA.com, the NBA App and for purchase through Rakuten’s video-on-demand service, Rakuten TV.  NBA LEAGUE PASS will allow fans to watch all NBA games including preseason, regular-season and playoffs games, NBA All-Star, NBA Conference Finals and The Finals, in addition to other exclusive programming.

Rakuten will also offer a subscription package on Rakuten TV, providing fans with access to nine games a week, one game per weekday and two games each on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We are very excited to partner with the NBA to bring all the action of the world’s top basketball league to fans in Japan,” said Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc.  “As we have recently announced that we are proud partners of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s reigning champions, it is an honor to expand our contributions to the global growth and development of basketball with this NBA partnership.”

“Rakuten is one of the world’s most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  “Our new relationship with Rakuten speaks to the appetite that our passionate fans in Japan have for live NBA games and content, and we look forward to working with Rakuten to provide the most comprehensive NBA coverage to date.”

The global marketing partnership also allows Rakuten to create NBA and team zones, and sell select NBA and team merchandise on its e-commerce channels globally, including Rakuten Ichiba in Japan and Ebates, a leading membership-based online cash-back site in the U.S.

Rakuten Viber, Rakuten’s instant messaging platform, will also become an official platform for the NBA and its teams, providing their more than 900 million users with access to league content.

The NBA’s presence in Japan dates back almost 30 years.  NBA games and programming have been on-the-air since the 1988-89 season, and officially licensed NBA merchandise is widely available at more than 180 Xebio stores across Japan.  The league has conducted a number of events in Japan, including 12 regular-season games in three cities, interactive fan events, NBA Cares community outreach initiatives, and in 2012, Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program.

Founded in 1997 in Tokyo as the world’s first successful merchant-focused e-commerce marketplace, Rakuten now encompasses over 70 businesses spanning e-commerce, digital content, communications and fintech that reach more than one billion members around the globe.  Rakuten’s professional sport portfolio includes ownership of Japan’s Vissel Kobe soccer club and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team, the team that won the national Japan Series Championship in 2013.  In July 2017, the company also became the Main Global Partner and Official Innovation and Entertainment Partner for iconic soccer club FC Barcelona.

For more information on the NBA, fans in Japan can visit www.nba.co.jp or follow the NBA on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and updates.  Fans interested in viewing NBA games on Rakuten TV in Japan can visit tv.rakuten.co.jp.

About the NBA
The NBA is a global sports and media business built around three professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA G League.  The league has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages, and NBA merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on 6 continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2016-17 season featured a record 113 international players from 41 countries and territories.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA App and NBA LEAGUE PASS.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with more than 1.3 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society.  Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1 billion members around the world.  Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 30 of Forbes Magazine’s annual “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list.  The Rakuten Group has over 14,000 employees, and operations in 29 countries and regions.  For more information visit https://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

JAPAN: Rakuten and Lawson to trial initiative that combines drone deliveries and convenience store mobile sales

JAPAN: Rakuten and Lawson to trial initiative that combines drone deliveries and convenience store mobile sales

 

Trial to begin at Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka store on October 31

Tokyo, 2017-Oct-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Lawson, Inc. today (October 6, 2017) announced that the two companies will begin a trial initiative that combines mobile sales via dedicated vehicles and product deliveries through the use of drones. The trial will operate out of Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka Store (Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture) and will launch on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. This initiative, which pairs drone deliveries with convenience store mobile sales, will be the first of its kind in Japan.

Odaka District in Minamisoma City was designated as a district under evacuation orders due to the effects of the nuclear accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This designation was rescinded in July 2016, and the town is starting to regain its former liveliness as its residents continue to return home. However improving the shopping environment for daily necessities, food, and other products represents a high-priority challenge.

Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka Store opened in October 2016. It was the first convenience store to resume operations in the Odaka District. With this collaboration, mobile sales will be made twice a week to the Odaka District from the store. One of these will involve the delivery of fried foods, such as “Kara-age Kun” fried chicken, and other items that are unable to be loaded onto the mobile sales vehicle, by Rakuten Drone delivery drone to the mobile sales destination from the store*1. This service trial will be carried out for six months after which consideration will be given to the official launch of the service.

* The drone may not be able to fly due to weather conditions such as rainfall, wind, or extreme temperature.

Lawson began offering mobile sales in 2013, and now has approximately 80 stores in 28 prefectures engaged in such sales, primarily in rural, mountainous regions and to elder-care facilities in urban areas. Through mobile sales, Lawson is aiming to create “local shopping communities” that provide the joy of shopping and create connections with the community through mobile sales.

In May 2016, Rakuten lauched Rakuten Drone (then called Sora Raku), a service for providing drone delivery solutions. Since then, the company has earned a strong track record in drone delivery through the use of its drones at golf courses and joint demonstration experiments with local governments and other organizations. In February, Rakuten concluded a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture part of which includes the development of a new distribution system utilizing drones. This current initiative will serve as the first step towards the introduction of drone delivery via a collaboration with Lawson, which has previously partnered with other Rakuten Group services.

Through this collaboration, Rakuten and Lawson will work to improve the shopping environment in Minamisoma City, aiming to jointly contribute to the development of the local community.

Source: Rakuten  Inc.

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Rakuten promotes measures to nurture new farmers and support farm succession in Jinsekikogen Town, Hiroshima Prefecture

Aiming to promote measures to nurture new farmers and support farm succession

TOKYO, JAPAN, 2017-Sep-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. announced the conclusion of an agricultural partnership agreement today with Jinsekikogen Town, Hiroshima Prefecture, with the aim of revitalizing the local economy and community.

Jinsekikogen Town is located in a mountainous area in the east of Hiroshima Prefecture. Although the town has been working to promote agriculture under the concept of “community-building based on food and agriculture,” it has continued to suffer from a shrinking and aging population, making the maintenance of farmland and the development of the next generation of farmers major community issues. In order to establish agriculture as one of the region’s primary industries, Jinsekikogen Town aims to increase the business skills of each of its farmers. Based on today’s agreement, Rakuten and Jinsekikogen Town will work on various measures to support new farmers and farm succession through Rakuten’s agricultural service, Rakuten Ragri. This is the first time for Ragri to sign a partnership agreement with a local government.

The partnership will focus on the following six areas:
1. Supporting the process of nurturing new farmer, and the establishment of Incubation Farms*1
2. Supporting farm succession, and the implementation of the Farmer Bridge Project
3. Supporting the extension of the farming business into the secondary and tertiary (service) sectors
4. Supporting the use of IT by farmers
5. Providing education on nutrition in association with schools and children’s facilities
6. Other areas related to community revitalization through agricultural promotion

Rakuten and its subsidiary Telefarm Inc. launched Ragri with the aim of helping to resolve the issues now facing Japanese agriculture. The service includes “Ragri Recruit,” a project to support new farmers, and “Ragri Bridge,” which aims to tackle the problem of succession by connecting farmers who are considering retirement, but do not have a successor, with new farmers.

Ragri’s produce is sold through the Ragri CSA (Community Supported Agricultural) service. Under the system, farmers receive orders to grow produce directly from consumers. Ahead of this agreement on September 4, Rakuten launched “Ragri Connect,” a new platform allowing each producer participating in the service to promote themselves through introduction pages and blogs. The platform also enables two-way communication between consumers and farmers. Furthermore, in collaboration with Rakuten Group services, Ragri CSA posts recipes from the recipe site, Rakuten Recipe, while a new Ragri shop has been established on Rakuten Ichiba to offer packages of different vegetables and regular purchasing services.

Rakuten and Jinsekikogen Town aim to contribute to the development of the local community and economy by utilizing the Ragri service to address the challenges of farmer shortages and farmland use.

*1Incubation Farm: A Telefarm initiative for new farmers that provides support including access to shared land and equipment, and helps in dealing with government offices, processing and shipping.

SOURCE:  Rakuten, Inc.

NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and Rakuten announce multi-year partnership

NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and Rakuten announce multi-year partnership

The Rakuten Badge To Be Featured On All Warriors Jerseys Beginning This Season

OAKLAND, CA, 2017-Sep-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — The NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and Rakuten, Inc. today announced a multi-year partnership to include the Rakuten logo on all Warriors jerseys beginning in the 2017-18 NBA season. The Rakuten badge will be featured on all of Golden State’s practice, regular, post-season and Summer League uniforms. For the first time in NBA history, the NBA approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season. The badges will be on the front left opposite the Nike logo and will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo.

As part of the partnership agreement, Rakuten will also become the Official E-Commerce Partner, Official Video-On-Demand Partner and Official Affiliate Marketing Partner of the Warriors. In addition, Rakuten Group company Ebates, a leading membership-based online cash-back site in the U.S., will become the Warriors Official Shopping Rewards Partner, the global mobile voice messaging service Rakuten Viber will become the Official Instant Messaging and Calling App Partner and the Rakuten Kobo eReaders will become the Official E-Reader Partner of the Warriors.

“Rakuten is an innovative global leader that we knew would align well with our values and principles as an organization,” said Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts. “We have incredible fan support around the globe and this partnership is another way to not only continue to grow the Warriors brand globally, but also further connect with our fans in Japan, Asia and Europe.”

Founded in 1997 in Tokyo, Japan, as the world’s first successful merchant-focused e-commerce marketplace, Rakuten now encompasses over 70 businesses spanning e-commerce, digital content, communications and fintech that reach more than 1 billion members around the globe. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked in the top 30 of Forbes Magazine’s annual “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list. In line with its growing investment in the United States and its vision for global innovation, Rakuten established its Americas regional headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2015.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Golden State Warriors, one of the most successful organizations in sports today and one that shares our passion for positivity, teamwork and optimism,” said Rakuten, Inc. founder and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani. “Like FC Barcelona, the iconic soccer club we partner with, the Warriors are innovators in their sport that have helped create a more beautiful game through a distinct style of unselfish, teamwork-oriented play.”

The Warriors won the 2017 NBA Championship, the fifth title in franchise history and second in the last three years. The organization was also honored with the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Sports Team of the Year award in both 2014 and 2016, along with Warriors Owner and CEO Joe Lacob earning the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Sports Executive of the Year award in 2014.

The Rakuten partnership also includes entitlement to the Warriors Practice Facility, now named the Rakuten Performance Center, along with a significant representation with the Warriors traveling party and additional sales and marketing elements including in-arena signage, digital, social and radio.

The Warriors sponsorship adds another global platform to Rakuten’s professional sport portfolio that includes ownership of Japan’s Vissel Kobe soccer club and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team, the team that won the national Japan Series Championship in 2013. In July 2017, the company also became the Main Global Partner and Official Innovation and Entertainment Partner for iconic soccer club FC Barcelona.

About the Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors organization, currently in its 72nd season, is a charter member of the National Basketball Association. Founded in 1946, the Warriors called the city of Philadelphia home for 16 memorable years before moving to the West Coast in 1962 to become the San Francisco Warriors and ultimately, in 1971, the Golden State Warriors when the team moved across the Bay to its current home in Oakland. The team’s storied history includes five NBA Championships, an NBA-record 73 wins during the 2015-16 season, the greatest post-season run in NBA history (16-1 in 2017), six of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and 27 members of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. For more information on the Golden State Warriors, please visit warriors.com.

SOURCE: Rakuten, Inc.

JAPAN: Rakuten announces investment in genetic health testing pioneer Genesis Healthcare Co.

Tokyo, 2017-Aug-22 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) today announced it has invested in genetic health testing pioneer Genesis Healthcare Co., receiving a 1.4 billion yen issue of new shares. Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani will join Genesis Healthcare’s Board of Directors as an External Board Director.

Genesis Healthcare, founded in 2004, already manages one of the largest genetic databases in Asia and Japan, with approximately 520,000 individuals as of August, 2017, and plans to increase its database size to one million by 2020. While Genesis Healthcare offers various genetic testing services to government, medical professionals, academia, industry and consumers, it also offers healthcare and disease prevention test kits and IT services under the consumer brand “GeneLife” in order to enrich people’s lives through personalized genetic testing.

Genesis Healthcare’s Founder and President, Dr. Iri Sato Baran, commented, “The investment by Rakuten, a Japan leader in internet services, will allow us to increase awareness of genetic information technology through digital healthcare for the betterment of personalized health and self-medication.”

“Forward-thinking technologies like Genesis Healthcare’s genetic health analysis and a deeper understanding of responsible self-medication are essential to finding innovative responses to increasing health costs and the rising awareness of health issues in Japan,” commented Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani. “With this investment, we would like to see Genesis Healthcare take a leading role in furthering the understanding and adoption of genetic health testing in Japan.”

Through the investment, Rakuten will support development and promote understanding of genetic diagnostic technologies in Japan in order to contribute to the realization of a richer society.

■Overview of Genesis Healthcare Co.
Company name: Genesis Healthcare Co.
Office location: Yebis Garden Place Tower 26F 4-20-3 Ebice, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Date of establishment: March1,2004
Capital:784M Yen
Representative: Dr. Iri Sato-Baran
Business Overview: Medical Kit manufacturing, Distribution license

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY and China’s Tujia to form business collaboration in the vacation rental business

Aiming to expand the vacation rental market in Japan by strengthening services for Chinese tourists

Tokyo, 2017-Aug-02 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten Group vacation rental business Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc. and a group company of Tujia, operator of one of China’s leading vacation rental online platforms “Tujia,” today (AUGUST 2, 2017) reached an agreement to form a business collaboration in the vacation rental business.

Based on the agreement, Rakuten LIFULL STAY will provide Japanese property listings from its tentatively-titled “Vacation Stay” vacation rental service to Tujia. Tujia Japan will aim to expand inbound demand by promoting Japanese tourist destinations to Tujia users. In addition, the two companies will also share information on trends in tourism from China to Japan and on popular Japanese destinations for Chinese tourists with the goal of enabling the efficient acquisition of new vacation rental properties. Attractive vacation rental facilities and unique vacation rental experiences (such as farming and traditional Japanese crafts) will also be offered to Chinese travelers visiting Japan. The two companies will collaborate to strengthen services for Chinese tourists, with the aim of expanding the vacation rental market in Japan.

Tujia was launched by Tujia Online Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. in 2011 and now has over 500,000 vacation listings in 1,100 cities in 70 countries. In addition to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the company has also established offices in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Tujia Japan launched its Japanese language website in March 2017 and aims to acquire 200,000 Japan-based vacation rental property listings by 2025, and become the leading vacation rental platform for the Chinese tourists wishing to visit Japan.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY is now working to expand its listings of Japanese vacation rental properties and aims to launch its vacation rental service after the new Private Lodgings Business Law in Japan comes into effect after January 2018. The business collaboration with Tujia Japan is part of Rakuten LIFULL STAY’s strategy to partner with companies providing vacation rental services in countries and regions around the world in order to efficiently provide information about Japan-based vacation rental listings to users overseas.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan in fiscal year 2016 was 6.37 million, an increase of 27.6% over the previous year*1. Going forward, Tujia Japan and Rakuten LIFULL STAY will offer a broad range of lodging options to meet the rising demand for accommodation from Chinese visitors to Japan, contributing to the development of the vacation rental market.

*1 Number of Foreign Visitors to Japan (2003 – 2017), Japan National Tourism Organization
http://www.jnto.go.jp/jpn/statistics/since2003_tourists.pdf

Overview of Rakuten LIFULL STAY
Company name:            Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.
Office location:              Otemachi Financial City Grand Cube 3F 1-9-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative:             Representative Director Munekatsu Ota
Details of business:       Providing services related to vacation rental platform
Date of establishment: March 2017
Website:                        https://www.rakuten-lifull-stay.co.jp/

Overview of Tujia Japan Co., Ltd.
Office location:              402 International Bldg. 1-6-1 Kanda Izumicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative:             Representative Director Tomoko Suzuki
Date of establishment: April 2016
Details of business:       Vacation rental services platform and related businesses
Website:                        http://content.tujia.com/Japan/Index.htm

By offering a safe, courteous and clean service that its guests, hosts, and all related parties can enjoy with peace of mind and by adhering to Japanese laws, Tujia Japan aims to become a company that plays an important role in Japanese society. Tujia Japan takes the experience of the Tujia group in building a vacation rental services business in the Chinese domestic market and applies it to Japan. The Japanese platform operator uses surveys and analysis of vacation rental demand in the Japan market to prepare appealing vacation service facilities and create website information that promotes Japan as an attractive vacation destination for the purpose of securing business from Chinese visitors to Japan Tujia is positioned to create new vacation rental services in Japan by working in cooperation with local governments and Japanese businesses.

Overview of Tujia Online Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd
Office location:              Beijing, China
Representative:             Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Justin Luo
Date of establishment: December 2011
Details of business:       Vacation rental services platform and related businesses
Website:                        https://www.tujia.com/

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten and Dentsu partner to offer new marketing solutions

Offering new marketing solutions integrating the data and knowledge of both companies

Tokyo, 2017-Jul-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Dentsu Inc. today (July 26, 2017) announced that the two companies will establish “Rakuten Data Marketing Co., Ltd.,” a new company that will offer marketing solutions integrating Rakuten Group’s big data and Dentsu Group’s data and mass media expertise. The company will begin operations in October 2017. The agreement related to this matter was concluded today. Rakuten, Inc. Group Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Makoto Arima will be the new company’s President and Representative Director.

Makoto Arima joined Rakuten in July 2017 to take up a newly created position as Group Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and head up the expansion of the data marketing business. Arima has made major contributions to the development of the domestic online advertising industry, through leadership roles at Google, Yahoo, Recruit and, most recently, Adroll.

Rakuten Data Marketing Co., Ltd. will harness the Rakuten Group’s broad membership base and big data, combining this with the Dentsu Group’s data and insights relevant to mass media and consumers and its strategy-building knowhow, in order to provide comprehensive digital marketing solutions that will allow optimization and maximize the effectiveness of marketing activities.

The new company will also further enhance the offering of brand partnership opportunities on Rakuten Ichiba, and utilize Rakuten Group’s big data to develop more personalized advertising products based on customer analysis. In addition, the company plans to support the development of customer strategies for brands and offer integrated media planning services beyond the digital field.

To date, Rakuten and Dentsu have collaborated to provide marketing support to companies through the use of the Rakuten Group’s membership base and related media. With the establishment of this new company, Rakuten and Dentsu will develop comprehensive marketing solutions fully utilizing the resources of both companies and breaking new ground in marketing techniques.

Overview of the new company
Name: Rakuten Data Marketing Co., Ltd.
Address: 1-14-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Capital: 100 million yen
Investment ratio: 51% Rakuten, Inc., 49% Dentsu Inc.

Representative: President and Representative Director Makoto Arima (Rakuten, Inc. Group Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO))
Date of Establishment: Mid-August 2017 (planned)

Start of operations: October 1, 2017
Business line: Offering new marketing solutions through the use of big data

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1 billion members around the world. Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 20 of Forbes Magazine’s annual “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list. The Rakuten Group has over 14,000 employees, and operations in 29 countries and regions. For more information visit https://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

About Dentsu
The Dentsu Group is the world’s largest advertising agency brand. Led by Dentsu Inc. (Tokyo: 4324; ISIN: JP3551520004), a company with a history of 116 years of innovation, the Dentsu Group provides a comprehensive range of client-centric brand, integrated communications, media and digital services through its ten global network brands—Carat, Dentsu, dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, mcgarrybowen, Merkle, MKTG, Posterscope and Vizeum—as well as through its specialist/multi-market brands. The Dentsu Group has a strong presence in over 140 countries across five continents, and employs more than 55,000 dedicated professionals. Dentsu Aegis Network Ltd., its global business headquarters in London, oversees Dentsu’s agency operations outside of Japan. The Group is also active in the production and marketing of sports and entertainment content on a global scale. www.dentsu.com

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten and Banpu to collaborate in electricity retail business and environmental values trading

Tokyo, 2017-Jul-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Banpu Public Company Limited today (JULY 18, 2017) announced that the two companies have reached agreement to form a comprehensive partnership in the fields of the electricity retail business and environmental values trading*1.

Under the agreement, Rakuten and Banpu will cooperate on the development of business models in the fields of negawatts*2 and environmental values trading, and also electricity retailing in Japan. By combining Banpu’s experience in the coal industry and power generation in the Asia Pacific region along with Rakuten’s know-how in the domestic electricity retail business and cutting-edge initiatives such as its private trading platform for environmental values and negawatts (planned for launch in fall this year) and IoT and other technologies, the two companies aim to develop the business, including cross-border projects between Japan and Thailand.

Banpu, a pioneering Asian energy company in Thailand operating coal, renewables and other energy businesses in the Asia Pacific region, listed Banpu Power Public Company Limited, its power generation subsidiary, on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in October 2016. Through this subsidiary, it operates solar power plants in Japan and overseas. In addition, Banpu plans to engage in the new business of energy retailing and is making efforts to acquire related knowledge and technology outside Thailand in Japan and elsewhere.

Rakuten established Rakuten Energy, which provides energy solution services centering on electricity, in June 2013. On February 21, 2017, Rakuten Energy was registered as a retail electricity provider with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), and in April made a full-fledged entry into the electricity retail business. In addition, Rakuten Energy is also working on the development of a private trading platform for environmental values and negawatts (scheduled to begin operating this fall) and a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) utilizing IoT technology. Through the collaboration with Banpu both in Japan and overseas, Rakuten Energy expects to expand its customer base in the electricity retail industry.

Going forward Rakuten and Banpu will leverage their knowledge and expertise in the power generation and electricity retail business to contribute to healthy competition and growth in the energy markets of Japan and other Asian countries.

*1 “Environmental values” are the greenhouse gas reduction effects obtained through introducing renewable energy, energy conservation and other initiatives, which have been certified and given numerical values by the government or local municipalities.
*2 Added value that can be obtained as a result of viewing the surplus electrical energy arising from users’ conservation of energy as equivalent to electricity generated.

About Banpu
Company name: Banpu Public Company Limited
Established: 1983
Business description: Coal mining, power generation and alternative energy sources
Location: 27th Floor, Thanapoom Tower, 1550 New Petchburi Road, Makkasan, Ratchathewi,
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Company representative: Somruedee Chaimongkol, Director and Chief Executive Officer
URL: www.banpu.com

Source: Rakuten Inc.

FC Barcelona’s star players Messi, Neymar Jr., Piqué and Turan visit Rakuten in Tokyo to celebrate new partnership

FC Barcelona’s star players Messi, Neymar Jr., Piqué and Turan visit Rakuten in Tokyo to celebrate new partnership

Partnership based in shared values of optimism and empowerment commenced Jul. 1

TOKYO, Japan, 2017-Jul-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten became the Main Global Partner and the first-ever Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner of FC Barcelona, one of the most iconic and beloved football clubs in the world, on July 1.

Rakuten, which was founded in 1997 as the world’s first successful merchant-focused e-commerce marketplace, now encompasses over 70 businesses spanning e-commerce, digital content, communications and fintech that bring the joy of discovery to more than 1 billion members across the world. By linking these diverse services through a common membership and loyalty program, we are creating a unique Rakuten Ecosystem for members. Rakuten’s partnership with FC Barcelona will enable us to enhance global awareness of this ecosystem and of the global Rakuten brand.

The Rakuten-FC Barcelona partnership, which is planned for four years with an option for one-year extension, is based in shared values of optimism and commitment to empowering local communities.

Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., said, “FC Barcelona’s motto of being ‘more than a club’ resonates with Rakuten’s commitment to being ‘more than a company’ – by empowering entrepreneurs and innovation, by supporting youth to become leaders of the future, and by contributing to local communities around the world.”

A group of FC Barcelona’s star players, including Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., Gerard Piqué and Arda Turan, along with Vice President responsible for Marketing and Communication, Manel Arroyo, visited Rakuten’s headquarters in Tokyo and locations around the city to celebrate the launch of the partnership.

FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi said, “It has been a pleasure to get to know firsthand the work Rakuten is doing in Japan and to see the passion with which they work. Their commitment to teamwork is similar to the approach we take on the pitch – it is something that both parties in this new partnership share.”

FC Barcelona forward Neymar Jr. said, “One of the most important things in football, as in life, is optimism. Before I go out on the pitch I know what I need to do, and I know I can do it. It’s wonderful to have a sponsor who shares our belief in the future.”

Centre-back Gerard Piqué said, “The team at Rakuten are visionaries and innovators – but they are also deeply passionate about supporting the communities around them. They are a great fit for FC Barcelona, a club that engages with so many communities, from its members and supporters’ clubs to fans all over the world. We look forward to a wonderful partnership.”

Midfielder Arda Turan said, “It is wonderful to be here and to be part of a team that leads the world of football and a team that is so admired here in Japan and around the world.”

FC Barcelona Vice President responsible for Marketing and Communication, Manel Arroyo said, “Having Rakuten as FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner is an absolute pleasure and we are sure that it will be a successful collaboration for both entities. The experience, innovative vision, and commitment to social development Rakuten has will help the Club continue to grow and maintain its position as a global reference in a sporting and institutional sense. The shared philosophy, values and objectives are, without a doubt, another guarantee of the success which will come out of this agreement.”

The partnership launches with a wave of consumer campaigns and corporate activities planned to excite FC Barcelona fans around the world. Details below:

–   Rakuten and FC Barcelona will work together to power the online “Barça Fan” community using the global Rakuten ID platform. Once completed, the system will allow new members of the Barça community to sign up simply by entering their Rakuten ID.

–   Global mobile messaging service Viber, also the FC Barcelona Official Communication Channel, will launch exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of the club’s activities on and off the field on their official Public Account, as well as a series of free sticker packs featuring all the favorite players throughout the partnership.

–   Viber will also launch a competition to offer a VIP travel package to Barcelona to see FC Barcelona legends in action at Camp Nou.

–   Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s largest online shopping mall, has opened an exclusive FC Barcelona zone that showcases all the best of FCB goods on the site.

–   Rakuten Card, one of the top three credit cards in Japan, will launch two exclusive FC Barcelona-branded credit cards, featuring the FC Barcelona logo and some of the club’s best-known players, in autumn.

–   Rakuten will host kickoff events around the world in 12 major locations to celebrate the launch of the partnership with key clients, partners and employees and set the stage for activities to come.

–   As the FC Barcelona team travels to the United States in late July for a special tour, Rakuten will also create tailored events and promotions to generate further excitement about this new partnership.

Updates on initiatives will be shared in weeks to come, as Rakuten works with FC Barcelona to delight football fans and Rakuten members around the world.

SOURCE:  Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Card launches two special FC Barcelona Credit Cards this Autumn 2017

Cards commemorate partnership between Rakuten, Inc. and FC Barcelona 

https://www.rakuten-card.co.jp/card/design/fcbarcelona/

TOKYO, Japan, 2017-Jul-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten Card Co., Ltd. today announced that Rakuten Card will issue two special FC Barcelona Credit Cards from fall 2017 to celebrate the partnership between Rakuten, Inc. and FC Barcelona.

Rakuten, Inc. became FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner from Jul. 1. Based on that agreement, Rakuten Card will issue Rakuten Cards that will be the only official credit cards in Japan to employ FC Barcelona designs. Users will be able to choose between two types of card face designs: FC Barcelona Emblem Design, featuring a striped emblem in FC Barcelona’s club colors of blue and deep red; and FC Barcelona Player Design, featuring photos of five of the club’s leading players (*). Applications for the cards will be accepted from fall.

Since being first issued in July 2005, Rakuten Card has grown in popularity thanks to features such as no annual membership fee, a high point reward rate and the ability to utilize the points earned to pay for various Rakuten Group services. The card received the top customer satisfaction score in the credit card category of the FY2016 Japanese Consumer Satisfaction Index (JCSI) Survey for the eighth year in succession.

Rakuten Card will continue striving to further boost customer satisfaction by enhancing its credit card services and features in the future.

Service Overview

■ Name: Rakuten Card (FC Barcelona Player Design),
Rakuten Card (FC Barcelona Emblem Design)

■ Application / issuance date (scheduled): Fall 2017
*Details will be published on Rakuten Card’s website at a later date

■URL: https://www.rakuten-card.co.jp/card/design/fcbarcelona/

■ Details: Point reward rate: 1% or more

[Rakuten Super Point Privileges]
(1) 1 point per 100 yen will be granted when using the Rakuten Card to pay for everyday shopping and public utilities charges.
(2) While the Super Point Up Program is being held, purchases made on Rakuten Ichiba will earn four times the points.

– Annual membership fee: Permanently free
– Brands: Mastercard, JCB
– Family cards: Free
– ETC: 500 yen (excluding tax)
– Insurance: Overseas travel accident insurance: 20 million yen (maximum)

SOURCE: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY and HomeAway to form a business collaboration in the vacation rental industry

Aiming to expand domestic vacation rental accommodation and increase inbound tourism 

Tokyo, 2017-Jul-04 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc., a Rakuten Group company providing vacation rental services, and HomeAway, Inc., an Expedia Group company operating one of the largest vacation rental sites in the world, today (JULY 3, 2017) announced that the two companies have reached an agreement to form a business collaboration in the vacation rental industry.

Based on the agreement, Rakuten LIFULL STAY, which is a subsidiary of a company jointly owned by Rakuten, Inc. and LIFULL Co., Ltd., will provide Japanese property listings from its tentatively-titled “Vacation Stay” service to HomeAway. HomeAway will focus on driving demand for Japanese properties by promoting travel to Japan through its platform. By collaborating on listings, customer-acquisition and sales, the two companies will provide a service that is attractive to both property owners and visitors.

In recent years, with the Japanese government supporting various policies aimed at promoting Japan as a tourist destination, visitor numbers are increasing. In order to meet the growing need for a diverse range of accommodation, the new Private Lodgings Business Law, which makes it possible to operate vacation rental services, was passed on June 9, 2017. With the passing of the law, Rakuten LIFULL STAY and HomeAway have agreed to collaborate in the sector to expand options for accommodation for overseas visitors, raise awareness of Japan’s tourist spots beyond the major cities, and increase the number of visitors to these areas.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY also plans to connect to LIFULL HOME’S Akiya Bank*1, a platform which gathers information from databases of unoccupied homes run by local governments. This will give owners of unoccupied homes in regional areas registered on akiya banks the option of utilizing their homes as vacation rentalproperties or by providing experience-based accommodation, contributing to the development of the economy and tourism in the region.

Utilizing their respective networks, Rakuten LIFULL STAY and HomeAway will provide a service that meets diverse accommodation needs and expands the accommodation market through the vacation rental business, while contributing to further growth in inbound tourism and the promotion of Japan as a tourist destination.

*1 “LIFULL HOME’S Akiya Bank”: A platform which gathers information from unoccupied home banks operated by local governments. The platform centralizes the information and provides it in a standardized format to make it possible for users to search and compare properties. The project is being developed by LIFULL and has been adopted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The project is planned to launch in summer 2017.

Overview of Rakuten LIFULL STAY
Company name: Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.
Address: Otemachi Financial City Grand Cube 3F
1-9-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative: Representative Director  Munekatsu Ota
Details of business: Providing services related to vacation rental platformDate of establishment: March 2017
Website: https://www.rakuten-lifull-stay.co.jp

Overview of HomeAway
Company name: HomeAway, Inc.
Headquarters: Austin, Texas, U.S.
Representative: CEO  John Kim
Details of business:  HomeAway is one of the world’s leading vacation rental companies and is part of Expedia Group, which has its headquarters in Austin, Texas, U.S. We provide and manage a platform through which users can make bookings at over two million unique vacation rental homes in 190 countries. We specify in “Whole Vacation” and helping friends and family who travel together to create unforgettable memories. One of our strengths is our high cost performance when booking for several travelers together. We also provide an easy online service for owners that covers the whole process from house registration to reservation management.
Date of establishment: February 2005
Website (English) : https://www.homeaway.com/
Website (Japanese): https://www.homeaway.co.jp/

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten unifies its global branding to reflect its strategy of building an ecosystem of diverse services

Rakuten unifies its global branding to reflect its strategy of building an ecosystem of diverse services

 

Underpins strategy to strengthen Rakuten ecosystem of services
and leverage FC Barcelona partnership from July 2017

Tokyo, 2017-Jul-04 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) today (July 1, 2017) announced that it will unify its global branding commencing July 1, 2017, to better represent its core strategy of building an ecosystem of diverse services that provide users with unique benefits. The rebranding coincides with Rakuten’s 20th anniversary and with the launch of a new global partnership with FC Barcelona, a club with one of the most recognized and respected global brands in soccer today.

Providing a more consistent identity to each of the services within the Rakuten Group lays the groundwork for our 1 billion users across the globe to more easily recognize the benefits of using more than one service. It also allows the company to develop synergies currently experienced mainly in Japan, its home market, where Rakuten’s ecosystem is the most mature. Rakuten will be better positioned to drive an increase in cross-use of services, increase the lifetime value of each member and drive gross transaction value (GTV) growth.

In Japan, the Rakuten brand is already ubiquitous due to the successful creation of a unique ecosystem that has linked services in groundbreaking ways to bring unique benefits to the user: across e-commerce, travel, fintech, digital contents, communication, credit cards, electronic money, banking, securities, insurance and professional sports. With a common membership ID and loyalty program across more than 70 services, users are able to earn and use incentive points across a myriad of online and off-line services.

“This year, as we start our global partnership with FC Barcelona, the unique and much-loved football team known as ‘more than a club,’ we will also continue to strive to be ‘more than a company,’ ” said Mickey Mikitani, Rakuten founder, Chairman and CEO. “As a company that stands for optimism and empowerment of local communities, with the unification of the Rakuten brand, we will take another step toward strengthening our ecosystem of services across the globe.”

The new global branding includes a bolder and more compact execution for the Rakuten corporate logo and a more consistent and unified approach to the branding of services in Japan and around the world, reflected in Roman alphabet logo executions and a colorful logo palette that allows each service to express their personality in a way that is respectful of their origins and of the existing user connection with the brand. The new bright and dynamic palette of colors used across the family of Rakuten services also represents the inherent diversity of the Group and the optimistic and innovative spirit at the heart of its corporate cultural values. As a core part of the new color scheme, the execution of the popular Circle R icon will appear for the first time in multiple colors, from blue to green to yellow.

The rebranding and logo changes launched on July 1, 2017, include executions on mobile and PC websites and apps, as well as offline branding in locations such as convenience stores and ATMs.

At the same time, Rakuten has unveiled a special version of the Rakuten logo developed for FC Barcelona jerseys in the 2017-18 La Liga season as part of the upcoming global partnership. This special logo will appear on FC Barcelona match day jerseys worn by the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. Adorned with a horizontal line inspired by a calligraphy version of the Japanese character for the number “1,” this unique execution for the jerseys serves to emphasize the brand name for the launch.

Please see chart below for details of selected brand changes and the new FC Barcelona 2017-2018 jersey version of the logo.

Source: Rakuten Inc.

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Rakuten and LIFULL enter the vacation rental business in Japan; establishes Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY represents innovative step into sharing economy in Japan

Tokyo, 2017-Jun-24 — /EPR Retail News/ —  Rakuten, Inc. and LIFULL Co., Ltd. today (June 22, 2017) announced that the two companies will enter the vacation rental business in Japan with the establishment of Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc., a subsidiary of RAKUTEN LIFULL STAY PTE. LTD., which is jointly owned by Rakuten and LIFULL. (Investment ratio: Rakuten: 51%; LIFULL: 49%).

As a vacation rental intermediary registered with the Japan Tourism Agency in accordance with the recently passed Private Lodgings Business Law, Rakuten LIFULL STAY will develop a new platform connecting owners of unoccupied homes or rooms who are looking to provide accommodation with people who are wishing to rent. The service, tentatively titled “Vacation Stay,” will provide property owners with new opportunities to make use of their unutilized assets and give users a greater variety of options for accommodation.

By offering a diverse range of more than 70 services, Rakuten has built a user base of approximately 90 million members in Japan and developed a strong network with local governments nationwide. LIFULL operates a real estate and housing information site with around 8 million properties listed and has a network of more than 22,000 affiliated real estate stores. Representing an innovative step into the sharing economy for both companies, Rakuten LIFULL STAY will draw on Rakuten’s membership base as well as LIFULL’s resources and expertise in the real estate industry.

To make it easier for individuals or organizations to make their properties available through the service, Rakuten LIFULL STAY also plans to offer comprehensive support options, assisting with everything from the preparation of properties to day-to-day operations. Operational burden will also be reduced through the development of outsourcing options with external partners. It is hoped these services will result in more properties being made available and the creation of an environment in which the service can be used safely and with greater peace of mind by guests.

In recent years, the growing number of vacant homes in Japan caused by the declining population and stagnating housing market has become a major social issue. At the same time, Japan is facing an acute shortage of accommodation as tourist numbers grow in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Increasing the amount of accommodation available is a pressing issue that the government hopes to address in part through the new Private Lodgings Business Law. Under the law, individuals and businesses meeting certain requirements will be able to utilize their unoccupied homes or rooms to provide vacation rental services without needing a license under the Inns and Hotels Act.

By providing a vacation rental service through Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Rakuten and LIFULL aim to meet the broad demand for accommodation from both domestic and overseas tourists, and address the serious problem of vacant homes while supporting the development and expansion of the accommodation industry.

Overview of Rakuten LIFULL STAY
Company name: Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.
Address: Otemachi Financial City Grand Cube 3F
1-9-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative: Representative Director Munekatsu Ota
Details of business: Providing services related to vacation rental platform
Date of establishment: March 2017
Website: https://www.rakuten-lifull-stay.co.jp

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1 billion members around the world. Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 20 of Forbes Magazine’s annual “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list. The Rakuten Group has over 14,000 employees, and operations in 29 countries and regions.
For more information visit https://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

About LIFULL
LIFULL Co., Ltd. (former company name: “NEXT Co., Ltd.”; TSE First Section: 2120) is a company that operates real estate and housing information services. It was established in 1997 based on an aspiration to change the real estate industry. Its main service is the operation of LIFULL HOME’S, a website providing real estate and housing information, which provides the industry’s most extensive library of property information in Japan. * LIFULL has been expanding its domains from its mainstay housing business, to peripheral areas including nursing care, interior, and insurance. The company has expanded LIFULL HOME’S overseas and is operating Trovit, one of the world’s largest aggregation sites. LIFULL has operations in 53 countries.
LIFULL Group’s corporate message is “Make every LIFE FULL.” LIFULL provides “LIFE solutions” that will offer security and pleasure to people around the world.
For more information visit https://LIFULL.com/en/

Based on the survey conducted by Sankei Medix (announced on January 26, 2017)

SOURCE: Rakuten, Inc.

 

JAPAN: Rakuten Pay smartphone app payment service now available at Lawson stores

Tokyo, 2017-Jun-05 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Lawson, Inc. today ( June 1, 2017) announced that the two companies have concluded a basic agreement for the introduction of “Rakuten Pay,” Rakuten’s smartphone app payment service, to Lawson stores. Based on the agreement, from August 2017 customers will be able to make payments with Rakuten Pay at 13,169 Lawson stores nationwide (as of April 2017), including Lawson, Natural Lawson and Lawson Store 100 stores. This will be the first time that Rakuten Pay has been adopted by  a major national chain for use in all of its stores

Rakuten Pay is a payment service that allows users to make payments smoothly at brick-and-mortar stores via a dedicated app. Payments can also be made using a combination of Rakuten Super Points and payment with the credit card registered to the user’s Rakuten membership ID. Users can also earn one Rakuten Super Point for every 200 yen (tax included) spent on purchases made through the app.

In addition to “QR Pay,” where the user scans a QR code displayed on a smartphone or tablet in the store, or “Self Pay,” where the user inputs the amount themselves, a new “Barcode Pay” payment method has been added to the Rakuten Pay app which allows users to present a barcode displayed on the app at Lawson stores nationwide to make the payment.

Rakuten Group and Lawson have been collaborating on a variety of services, such as the introduction of Rakuten’s electronic money service Rakuten Edy to all Lawson stores in August 2007, and the launch of a convenience store pick-up service in 2016, where users can collect products ordered  from Rakuten Ichiba and Rakuten Books at Lawson stores throughout the country , as well as Rakuten Mobile SIM cards and devices from Lawson stores in Tokyo. The two companies are also collaborating on a variety of Rakuten member campaigns connected to Lawson stores around the country.

Going forward, Rakuten aims to provide more convenient services and functions, and to further increase satisfaction for both users and partner stores.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten becomes the Official EC Platform Partner for the Japan Professional Football League

Rakuten to redesign J.League Online Store and provide support for EC site operations

Tokyo, 2017-Apr-26 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) today (April 24, 2017) announced it has reached an agreement with the Japan Professional Football League (J.League) to be the Official EC Platform Partner for the J.League.

Based on the agreement, Rakuten will collaborate with the J.League on redesigning the “J.League Online Store,” an EC site selling merchandise of the clubs in the J1, J2, and J3 football leagues, and support its subsequent operation. Utilizing its knowledge and expertise cultivated through the operation of its various e-commerce services, including the internet shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten will provide full operational support for the site, including the creation of product pages, the shipment of products, and customer support. The redesigning of the site is expected to be completed by mid-July.In addition, Rakuten will carry out various initiatives to enhance the convenience of the store, including directing customers to the site from Rakuten Group services, and will provide a shopping platform where both fans and supporters can easily purchase J.League and club merchandise, while reducing the burden on each club of managing an EC site.

Rakuten Group has managed the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles professional baseball team since 2004, and the J.League football club Vissel Kobe from 2015, and actively promotes regional revitalization and the development of sports and culture through its sports businesses.

Through this partnership with the J.League, Rakuten aims to further vitalize the J.League and football in Japan and contribute to the development of sports and culture.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten launches comprehensive English learning service

Offering foreign language learning software Lingvist and English learning app, Maname to users in Japan

TOKYO, Japan, 2017-Apr-21 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. announced the official launch of “Rakuten Super English,” a comprehensive English learning service utilizing technology to provide a practical English learning and a new style of studying. The launch of Rakuten Super English marks Rakuten’s entry into the English education business.

Rakuten Super English will initially offer the language learning software “Lingvist” provided by Lingvist Technologies OÜ, and the English learning app “Maname” provided by Rakuten Group company ReDucate. Both Lingvist and Maname are designed on algorithms based on adaptive learning*1 concepts, enabling users to effectively acquire English vocabulary. Both can be used on computers, smartphones and tablets, and are also available as dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices.

As English is growing in importance as a common language in global society, many educational institutes, companies and organizations in Japan are working to improve their level of practical English. In 2010, Rakuten made English its official corporate language in order to expand its businesses globally, and the average TOEIC(R)*2 school of its employees is now more than 830 points (Rakuten, Inc. only). Using the experience and know-how cultivated through these initiatives, Rakuten will offer English learners tools and services utilizing technology to support them in their studies and provide a new style of studying through Rakuten Super English. Rakuten is also providing consulting on English proficiency and ways to improve English ability to educational institutions, corporations and other organizations.

Lingvist has been available mainly for users outside Japan to learn multiple languages available and has 600,000 registered users worldwide. Through their partnership with Rakuten, they will provide Japanese users with the software to learn English conversational and business vocabulary. Maname is an app which users can learn English vocabulary studied from elementary school to high school*3. It incorporates a variety of questions on English translation, Japanese translation, intonation, and spelling, and is designed to keep learning fun through gamification*4.

To commemorate the launch of Rakuten Super English, Rakuten will hold a campaign in which users who enter the campaign and register as a paid subscriber for one or both of the services will receive 200 Rakuten Super Points.

Rakuten Super English will work to provide new learning content and enhance the functions of its services to make English learning fun and efficient, and will work to support English learners going forward.

*1 Adaptive learning is a method of promote continued learning and improving the efficiency of learning by automatically optimizing content to a level of difficulty where the user does not feel stress based on their level of understanding and proficiency.

*2 Abbreviation of Test of English for International Communication. TOEIC is a global test that evaluates English communication ability. TOEIC is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS).

*3 Corresponds to the English vocabulary common in all middle school textbooks of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Eiken English Proficiency Test Level 2 to 5.

*4 Gamification is the idea of applying elements of gaming to fields other than games such as social activities and services to promote their use.

Service Outline

Name: Rakuten Super English
Launch date: Friday, April 21, 2017
URL: https://english.rakuten.co.jp/

Campaign Outline

Description: Users who enter the campaign and register as a paid subscriber for one or both of the services will receive 200 Rakuten Super Points
URL: https://english.rakuten.co.jp/campaign/open/
Campaign period: Until May 31, 2017 23:59


About Lingvist

Based in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, Lingvist Technologies OÜ uses technology and computer science to develop products to promote efficient language learning. The company was established with Skype’s co-founder, Jaan Tallinn’s support, after its algorithms attracted attention. Rakuten is an investor in Lingvist, and collaborates with it to develop services for Lingvist in the Japanese market.

About ReDucate
ReDucate, Inc. is a joint venture between Drecom Co., LTD. and Rakuten, Inc. In order to accelerate the growth of the social learning business that Drecom operates, ReDucate collaborates with Rakuten and its ecosystem to provide educational services with high added value. ReDucate aims to realize continuous learning through technology based on the three pillars of gamification, social learning, and adaptive learning and to provide unique learning experiences that books and lectures alone cannot provide.

SOURCE: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten and Telefarm connect consumers with producers of pesticide-free, pesticide-reduced produce

Ensuring stable revenue for producers while also supporting the
development and independence of new farmers

Tokyo, 2017-Apr-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Telefarm Co., Ltd. today ( April 5, 2017) announced the launch of “Ragri,” an internet-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service that connects consumers with producers of pesticide-free, pesticide-reduced and other agricultural produce.

CSA is a new framework for agriculture in which producers plant crops based on pre-paid orders placed by consumers for specific produce, thereby facilitating planned production and revenue stabilization. In general, agriculture is greatly affected by the timing and quantities of harvests, price trends and external factors such as the weather. With CSA, the sale and purchase agreements are concluded once consumers’ consent regarding such risks has been obtained.

Ragri is based on the Telefarm Remote Farming service that was operated by Telefarm, in which Rakuten announced it had invested in June 2016. The two companies have collaborated to significantly overhaul the Ragri website and service.

Much of the agricultural produce provided through Ragri places particular emphasis on being pesticide-free or pesticide-reduced, or otherwise organic or specially cultivated produce. Users select the produce and producer from which they want to order, and await the harvest while remotely managing the cultivation of the produce from seed or seedling in virtual fields online. Users are able to check up on how the cultivation of the actual produce is progressing through photographs and comments sent by the producers. Once the produce has reached harvest, it is delivered directly from the farms to the locations designated by the users.

Users will be able to use Ragri via Ragri’s PC and smartphone websites by logging in with their Rakuten membership IDs, and will therefore also be able to use their Rakuten membership IDs to pay their Ragri fees via the Rakuten Pay payment service, meaning it will also be possible to earn and use Rakuten Super Points. Furthermore, in cases where typhoons or other natural disasters make it impossible to carry out the harvest, or in cases where the minimum crop yield set for each crop is not reached, users will be granted Rakuten Super Points with a value equivalent to the cultivation fees paid*1. Rakuten and Telefarm are also exploring enhancements to Ragri’s services in the future such as adding a feature enabling users to communicate with producers, and introducing plans for combining a large number of different vegetable items in small quantities.

In addition to providing a platform connecting consumers and producers, Ragri will also support new farmers. Telefarm has already begun recruiting and training new farmers in Ehime Prefecture, and plans to roll out the program nationwide in the future. Alongside promoting CSA through Ragri, Rakuten and Telefarm are also proactively promoting new agriculture and contributing to resolving challenges such as labor shortages and the growing amount of deserted arable land.

*1 Excludes the seed / seedling fee

About the Ragri service

Name: Ragri
Service launch: April 5, 2017
Fee schedule:
– The first payment comprises of a seed / seedling fee (first time only) and a cultivation fee, which are paid at the time of the agreement
– From the first payment onward, the cultivation fee is paid every 30 days in accordance with the agreement period (*The usage fees and number of payments will differ depending on the type of crop, cultivation period and producer)
– Produce delivery is included in the cultivation fee
Payment method: Rakuten Pay (a payment service that utilizes the Rakuten Member ID and supports a wide variety of credit cards)

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten and Japan Post expand partnership in e-commerce logistics to reduce the redelivery of parcels

Tokyo, 2017-Apr-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Japan Post Co., Ltd. will strengthen their collaboration in e-commerce logistics to reduce the redelivery of parcels by examining various measures to increase the efficiency of deliveries and pick-ups.

1. Background
The e-commerce market continues to grow at an accelerated pace with the continued evolution of the internet and the diversification of consumer needs as e-commerce has become one of the primary means of consumption in daily life.

Rakuten and Japan Post have already collaborated on picking up products purchased on Rakuten Ichiba with “HAKO POST” lockers for receiving Yu-Pack parcels and convenience stores and “Rakuten Box” delivery lockers. Both companies have continued trials and studies for further efficiency in e-commerce logistics and delivery.

However, the ratio of redeliveries to homes remains high and reducing this is a pressing issue in e-commerce logistics. Rakuten and Japan Post are working together on the following to address this issue.

2. Policies under consideration
Rakuten and Japan Post are studying the provision of and policies for a last mile delivery service that allows users of e-commerce services to have products delivered once with certainty, without worrying about missing a delivery.

Specifically, both companies are considering:
(1) Expanding parcel pick up locations (convenience stores, post offices, HAKO POST, and Rakuten Box)
(2) Implementing designated pick-up locations
(3) Expanding notification services
(4) Awarding Rakuten Super Points when parcels are picked up the first time

To promote these measures, Rakuten and Japan Post are working together to offer special delivery fees for purchases made with Rakuten Ichiba merchants.

Rakuten and Japan Post are striving to develop more convenient and robust e-commerce and improve the efficiency of e-commerce logistics.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten subsidiaries Kenko.com, Inc. and Soukai Drug Co., Ltd. to merge

Tokyo, 2017-Apr-03 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. today (March 31, 2017) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiaries Kenko.com, Inc. and Soukai Drug Co., Ltd. will be merged on July 1, 2017. Following this merger, Noriaki Komori will assume on the role of Representative Director & CEO at the new company.

Both companies are e-commerce businesses selling daily necessities, and both have stores on Rakuten’s internet shopping mall, Rakuten Ichiba. The merger will unify the two companies, which have highly similar business structures, to enable more efficient operations and further enhance the Rakuten Ichiba customer experience.

Rakuten Group will continue to streamline management resources and strengthen operation fundamentals in order to provide the best possible service to users.

Summary of merger

(1)   Schedule

Merger resolution at the shareholders’ meeting:  Kenko.com, Inc.: March 31, 2017
Soukai Drug Co., Ltd.: March 27, 2017
Date of merger: July 1, 2017 (scheduled)

(2) Merger method
Kenko.com will be the surviving company under absorption-type merger, and Soukai Drug Co., Ltd. will be absorbed.
Overview of companies in merger

Company name Kenko.com, Inc.
(Company surviving absorption-type merger)
Soukai Drug Co., Ltd.
(Company absorbed in absorption-type merger)
Address 1-15-6 Tenjin

Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi

Fukuoka

Kojimachimitsuba Bldg. 1F

3-5 Niban-cho, Chiyoda-ku

Tokyo

Name, title of representative Shunsuke Yazawa, Representative Director & CEO Noriaki Komori, Representative Director & CEO
Main business E-commerce, handling daily necessities with a focus on health-related products E-commerce, handling a wide range of products with a focus on daily necessities
Date of establishment November 8, 1994 August 11, 2000
Main shareholders Rakuten, Inc. 100% Rakuten, Inc. 100%

Post-merger details (following scheduled date of July 1, 2017)

Company name To be determined
Address To be determined
Name, title of representative Noriaki Komori, Representative Director & CEO
Main business Services relating to the sale of daily necessities through e-commerce

Source: Rakuten Inc.

ShopChat Launches World’s 1st Shopping Keyboard; Rakuten Funding

ShopChat Launches World’s First Shopping Keyboard & Raises Funding from Rakuten

ShopChat attracts 100,000 beta users by combining two of the most popular mobile activities,chatting and shopping, into a new chat commerce platform, an alternative to struggling shopping bots

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 2017-Mar-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Message commerce startup ShopChat today emerged from stealth mode with the unveiling of the world’s first mobile shopping keyboard. ShopChat lets people share and shop their favorite brands, such as Sephora, Guess and Foot Locker right from their smartphone keyboards. The company also announced that global e-commerce giant Rakuten (Tokyo: 4755) led the company’s $1.25MM funding round. Top angel investors from Silicon Valley and Europe also participated in the round.

ShopChat combines two of the most popular mobile activities, chatting and shopping, into one seamless experience. ShopChat lets people share products with their friends and family to get instant reactions and shop directly from chat. Already attracting 100,000 users, the beta version has generated strong user enthusiasm and high engagement – over 32% of users share a product with a friend in a session.

The ShopChat shopping keyboard is now available to the public for free from the iOS App Store, for all major messengers, and is launching on Google Play soon.

Two versions of ShopChat are available, one focused on consumers and one for whitelabel partnerships leveraging ShopChat’s API.

Investing in the Post-App Era: Funding and Partnership with Rakuten and Viber

ShopChat’s pioneering approach to message commerce convinced e-commerce giant Rakuten to lead the company’s $1.25MM round of funding. Rakuten is already a global player in e-commerce and is a major force in messaging through their 2014 acquisition of message network Viber. As part of the strategic investment and partnership, ShopChat now powers Viber’s recently announced message commerce to its massive user base.

“We stand at the convergence of messaging and shopping, and ShopChat is developing the right platform to perfect the shopping experience within instant messaging. The investment in ShopChat brings us closer to our vision of Viber as an ecosystem, providing our users with more capabilities to manage their communications simply and securely.” said Djamel Agaoua, Viber CEO.

ShopChat as Native Chat Commerce

Existing mobile commerce solutions are not easily adapted to messaging. Users must switch away from chat and choose between using individual apps or slow mobile websites. And most apps are uninstalled after a few uses. Mobile websites suffer from slow load times and navigation issues. ShopChat solves these problems by giving people a chat first shopping solution that’s fun and easy to use without ever changing apps. ShopChat works on major messenger apps including Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, WeChat, Google Chat, Kik Messenger, Tango, Line and others.

Succeeds Where Shopping Bots Are Failing

People spend more time on messaging apps than any other category of apps, but chat commerce is barely developed. Shopping bots were heralded as the future of message commerce, but despite large investments in shopping bots by Facebook and others, people remain unmoved by the experience of chatting with a robot. ShopChat invents a better chat commerce experience by letting people share with those that matter to them: friends and family.

“No one really wants to talk to a computer, any more than they want to talk to a voice response system. That’s been the problem with shopping bots. What people really want is a better way to share products with friends, and to be able to buy right from chat, where they are already spending most of their time.” said Zephrin Lasker, CEO and Co-Founder of ShopChat. “ShopChat makes it easy for people to share products with friends and shop together, and see a broad selection of products instantly as they browse without having to leave their chat app.”

Opportunity for Brands

ShopChat launches with a select number of pilot brands including Sephora, Foot Locker, Guess and others chosen by ShopChat’s users. ShopChat users are primarily female with the largest and most active group of users under 24 years old. The company is constantly expanding its brand offerings, using a mix of algorithmic and social graph data to evaluate, optimize and select new brands and products. Brands looking to sign up should contact brands@shopchat.com.

How It Works

ShopChat’s patent-pending technology works inside existing messaging apps, just like emoji or other third party keyboards Bitmoji or Swiftkey. Users install ShopChat once, and it then works on all their messaging apps automatically. This simplicity, combined with the fact that most people use more than one messaging app, makes using ShopChat powerful and easy.

About ShopChat

ShopChat’s mission is to make mobile commerce as easy as chatting with friends. The company is based in San Francisco and was founded by proven entrepreneur technologists with experience at Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, Techstars, Pivotal Labs, and Pandora. To learn more, please visit www.shopchat.com.

Rakuten and AirMap teams up to provide Unmanned Traffic Management solutions to drone operators and airspace managers in Japan

Rakuten AirMap, Inc. will open the skies for Japan’s growing drone ecosystem

Tokyo, Japan, 2017-Mar-15 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc., a leader in internet services and global innovation headquartered in Japan, and AirMap, the world’s leading airspace management platform for drones, today announced the launch of a joint venture, Rakuten AirMap, Inc. The joint venture will provide Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) solutions to drone operators and airspace managers in Japan. The partnership follows Rakuten’s participation in AirMap’s recent Series B investment round in February 2017.

Drones have the potential to benefit practically every sector of the Japanese economy. Already, drones are being used in a variety of commercial applications, including drone delivery, construction, inspection, agriculture, and security. According to PwC, commercial drones will deliver up to $127.3 billion in global economic impact in the coming years. As millions of drones take flight, they will need to access and exchange safety-critical information with others in the airspace. Technology to manage drone traffic in low-altitude airspace – like Rakuten AirMap’s – will be critical to enable safe and efficient operations of drones.

Rakuten entered the commercial drone field with the launch of the Sora Raku Rakuten Drone delivery service in April 2016. Through the Sora Raku service and its collaboration with domestic partners on several ground-breaking test flights, the company has developed a deep understanding of the commercial drone market and regulatory environment in Japan.

AirMap is the global leader in airspace management for drones, utilized by the vast majority of drones world-wide, delivering solutions for situational awareness, flight planning, geofencing, drone cybersecurity, and more. Millions of drones rely on the AirMap platform to access and share the data they need to fly safely in low-altitude airspace, thanks to integrations with hundreds of leading drone manufacturers and developers.

AirMap has also emerged as a leader in worldwide efforts to build technologies for Unmanned Traffic Management, the technological framework that will facilitate data exchange and air traffic control for drones. Today, more than 125 airports and other airspace stakeholders use AirMap’s airspace management dashboard to open surrounding airspace to drones, view past and current drone flights, accept digital flight notices, and communicate with drone operators.

Through the joint venture, the two companies will leverage their knowledge and experience to bring airspace management solutions to the Japanese market and support the development of the commercial drone industry in Japan.

Rakuten AirMap’s UTM platform will provide situational awareness for airspace managers (such as airports and municipal governments) and allow drone operators to fly safely and stay informed during their flight. Through the platform, airspace managers can view drone flight notices in real time within their jurisdiction, automate authorization for drone flights and communicate directly with drone operators via SMS or phone. The platform also allows drone operators to understand the rules in their flight area, create flight plans, and share them with nearby airports and authorities. By connecting drone operators and airspace managers, the Rakuten AirMap platform opens low-altitude airspace for intelligent drone flight.

“Drone technologies have the potential to revolutionize industries, and the growing number of drone-based commercial services is a testament to this,” said Takashi Toraishi, president of the New Services Development Company of Rakuten, Inc. and responsible for the Sora Raku Rakuten Drone service. “We are very happy to be partnering with AirMap, the leader in airspace management services, as we make our first step into UTM services in Japan and work to create a safe and viable future for the drone ecosystem in the country.”

“We’re tremendously excited to partner with Rakuten to bring Unmanned Traffic Management capabilities to Japan,” said Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap. “Rakuten AirMap’s UTM solutions will connect airspace managers with drones and their operators – setting the stage for Japan’s commercial drone ecosystem to thrive.”

About Rakuten AirMap Inc.
Business outline:                  To develop and provide UTM solutions for drone operators and airspace managers in Japan
Date established:                  March 2017
Investment Ratio:                  Rakuten, Inc. 51%; AirMap 49%
Head office:                            Rakuten Crimson House 1-14-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Representative Directors:    Representative Director and CEO: Hideaki Mukai (Rakuten, Inc.)
Representative Director:      Ben Marcus (AirMap, Inc.)
For more information:           https://soraraku.rakuten.co.jp/airmap/en/

About AirMap
AirMap is the world’s leading airspace management platform for drones, supporting more than 100,000 drone flights per day. Millions of drones, hundreds of drone manufacturers and developers, and hundreds of airspace managers and stakeholders rely on AirMap’s airspace intelligence and services to fly safely and communicate with others in low-altitude airspace. With solutions for Unmanned Traffic Management, geofencing, remote identification, deconfliction, and more, AirMap is helping to create the next frontier of flight.
Learn more about AirMap at www.airmap.com.

SOURCE: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten launches “Rakupa” a parking space sharing service that connects parking spaces owners with drivers looking to park

Tokyo, 2017-Feb-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. today announced the launch of “Rakupa,” a parking space sharing service that provides a platform to connect owners of unused parking spaces with drivers looking to park.

With Rakupa, owners of buildings and homes can register their unused parking spaces, which drivers can then search for and book through the Rakupa PC and smartphone site or dedicated app using their Rakuten membership ID. Drivers can earn Rakuten Super Points by utilizing the service and pay using credit card or with Rakuten Super Points.

As parking spaces can be booked on Rakupa in advance, drivers can travel to their destinations knowing that a vacant parking space awaits them. For owners, simply registering their unused parking spaces on the service lets them make use of underutilized assets, without the need for any upfront or monthly maintenance costs.

Rakupa was launched with the aim of providing a new solution to the common problem of limited parking spaces around popular tourist spots and events, and preparations are underway for new collaborations with other companies and with other Rakuten Group services. Going forward, Rakuten will continue to develop the service to make driving more convenient, comfortable and enjoyable.

Service Overview:
Service name: Rakupa
Launch date: February 23, 2017
Details of service: A platform for connecting owners of unused parking spaces with drivers looking to park
Service site: https://parking.rakuten.co.jp/
Service area at launch: Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Saitama Prefecture (to be expanded)
Number of parking spaces available at launch: Approx. 1,000
App download URL:
[iOS] https://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/id1156369880
[Android] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.rakuten.rakupa
Payment methods: Credit card, Rakuten Super Points

Source: Rakuten Inc.

Rakuten and Marubeni Power Retail Corporation to enhance their services for low-voltage power users

Tokyo, 2017-Jan-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Marubeni Power Retail Corporation today (January 19, 2017) entered a comprehensive business alliance agreement on the promotion of purchases and utilization of electricity and other commodities for low-voltage power.

Through the agreement, the areas of the partnership will be expanded into the various services offered by the Rakuten Group. In addition, by leveraging the over 50 years of knowhow of the electricity business that Marubeni Power Retail has cultivated within the Marubeni Group and the strengths of Rakuten Group, such as its experience in internet services, the Rakuten Super Points loyalty program and the broad Rakuten membership base, the two companies aim to enhance their services for low-voltage power users

Rakuten and Marubeni Power Retail will launch a campaign in which users who simultaneously sign up for both Rakuten’s low-voltage power supply service, Machi Denki*1, and Rakuten Mobile, will receive 3,000 Rakuten Super Points. In addition, users who sign up for “Machi Denki” during the campaign period can receive up to 2,000 Rakuten Super Points. In order to make payment more convenient, users will have the option to pay monthly fees using Rakuten Super Points beginning with their payment for March 2017.

Since Rakuten and Marubeni Power Retail launched a business alliance in the power retail business for low-voltage users in September 2015, the two companies have been expanding the scope of their services, including power supply services under brokerage arrangements, mainly to Rakuten Ichiba merchants and low-voltage non-residential users*2, such as corporations contracting with Rakuten Communications Corporation*3. The two companies also began accepting credit card payment for low-voltage residential users*4 from November 30, 2016, and carried out a special campaign aimed at users of Rakuten Card*5. These activities have proved that the Rakuten Ecosystem model, with its single membership shared between each its services, can also be effectively utilized in the power retail market, and have prompted the two companies to conclude an agreement today to further accelerate efforts to acquire customers towards April 2017, when the gas retail market is set for liberalization, one year after the full liberalization of the power retail market.

By strengthening their partnership, Rakuten and Marubeni Power Retail will provide high value-added energy services to accommodate the diversification of customer needs resulting from the full liberalization of the electricity and gas retail markets, further contributing to the healthy competition and development of the Japanese energy market.

About Rakuten, Inc.

Name: Rakuten, Inc.

Founded: 1997

Main Businesses: Rakuten operates a wide variety of internet services, such as e-commerce, eBooks, and travel, as well as financial services. Rakuten’s energy services were established in June 2013

Head Office Location: Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Representative: Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani

URL: http://global.rakuten.com/corp/

About Marubeni Power Retail Corporation

Name: Marubeni Power Retail Corporation

Founded: 2011

Main Businesses:

1. Electricity trading business, and its agency and brokerage

2. Construction of power plants, electricity generation, and its agency and brokerage

Head Office Location: Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Representative: Representative Director and President, Daisuke Nishiyama

URL: https://denki.marubeni.co.jp/

*1 “Machi Denki” is the low-voltage power supply services of Rakuten’s energy business, “Rakuten Energy,” for small-scale business operators and other power users.

*2 Low-voltage non-residential users are non-residential users who sign up for low-voltage electricity.

*3 Press Release: Rakuten Communications Starts Offering Rakuten’s Power Service “Machi Denki” (Japanese)

http://corp.rakuten.co.jp/news/update/2016/1215_01.html

*4 Press Release: Rakuten Energy Starts Offering Credit Card-Based Payment for Power Rates (Japanese)

http://corp.rakuten.co.jp/news/update/2016/1130_01.html

*5 Low-voltage residential users are residential users who sign up for low-voltage electricity.

Campaign Overviews

Campaign 1

Overview: Users who sign up for both “Machi Denki” and Rakuten Mobile during the campaign period and enter the campaign can receive 3,000 Rakuten Super Points

Period: 10:00 February 15, 2017, through 9:59 May 15, 2017

Campaign 2

Overview: Users who sign up for eligible “Machi Denki” plans during the campaign period, meet other conditions for participation in the campaign and enter the campaign can receive up to 2,000 Rakuten Super Points

Period: 10:00 February 6, 2017, through 1:59 March 9, 2017

Target and points:

2,000 Rakuten Super Points to users who sign up for Standard Plan 50A/60A/Premium Plan

1,000 Rakuten Super Points to users who sign up for Standard Plan 30A/40A

*For users in Kansai and Chugoku areas, 1,000 Rakuten Super Points will be awarded upon signing up to either of the Standard Plans, while 2,000 Rakuten Super Points will be awarded to those who sign up to the Premium Plan.

Eligibility: All users who sign up for “Machi Denki” during the campaign period

*For details on other conditions, please see the campaign page on the “Machi Denki” website after the campaign begins.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten enhances services with Rakuten Point Card and Rakuten Edy e-money service now compatible with Android Pay™ service

Tokyo, 2016-Dec-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc., and Rakuten Edy, Inc. today announced that the Rakuten Point Card shared point card service and Rakuten Edy e-money service have been made compatible with the Android Pay™ service, which will launch in Japan from December 13.

Android Pay™ is a digital wallet service provided by Google that can be installed from the Google Play Store. With the service, users can register e-money services, point cards and gift cards and utilize them in stores.

Rakuten Point Card is a service that allows users to earn Rakuten Super Points when paying at affiliated stores. Rakuten Super Points can be used on the Rakuten Group’s various services and in payments at affiliated stores. Rakuten Edy began offering an Android™ version of its Rakuten Edy app for Osaifu Keitai®-equipped Android™ from January 2011, and cumulatively, 100.9 million Rakuten Edy cards have been issued*1.

With Rakuten Point Card and Rakuten Edy now compatible with Android Pay™, users are now able to manage their points and e-money through the service. For Rakuten Edy, in addition to being able to pay with Android Pay™, users can also confirm their Edy balance and usage history, as well as set up Rakuten Super Points*2. As it is also possible for users to charge their Rakuten Edy card using a credit card registered on the user’s Google account*3 with Android Pay™, there is no need for the user to register new credit card information at the time of set up.

By making its services compatible with Android Pay™, the Rakuten Group will create opportunities for new users to make use of the Rakuten Edy and Rakuten Point Card services. Going forward, Rakuten will strive to expand and enhance its services in order to increase the level of user satisfaction.

*1 The cumulative number issued as of December 1. Includes Rakuten Edy-equipped cards and Osaifu Keitai®.

*2 Only compatible with Android™ devices which are compatible with Osaifu Keitai®.

*3 It is necessary to register the credit cards on a Google account in advance.

* Osaifu-Keitai® is the registered trademark of NTT DoCoMo, Inc.

* Android, Android Pay and Google Play are the trademarks or registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

JAPAN: Rakuten, ACSL and NTT DOCOMO carried out demonstration experiment of drone-based delivery system utilizing LTE

Tokyo, 2016-Nov-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc., Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd. (ACSL) and NTT DOCOMO, INC. today (November 22, 2016) announced that the three companies have successfully carried out a demonstration experiment of a drone-based delivery system utilizing LTE in the National Strategic Special Zone of Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture.

In the latest experiment, the delivery of cargo using a drone was carried out at the Inage Seaside Park in Chiba City and adjacent sea area. The experiment, carried out as a pre-cursor to future long-distance delivery by drones, demonstrated that an order placed from a smartphone was correctly received by the drone-based delivery system, and that remote control via the LTE network can be conducted in a stable manner.

Based on the experience gained from the “Sora Raku” drone-based delivery service launched in April 2016, Rakuten has made further improvements to the product ordering app for users and the drone dashboard for controlling the drone. With these improvements combined with the new model of Rakuten’s “Tenku” delivery drone, which features a number of performance enhancements including water-resistance, Rakuten has been able to develop a more advanced drone-based delivery solution.

ACSL has newly developed the platform airframe, known as the “PF1,” which is capable of long-distance flight with fully autonomous control. The “PF1” has been designed with future flight over the sea and populated areas in mind, and as such has been equipped with a parachute to slow the speed of the fall in an emergency, offering a greater level of safety than conventional drones. The “PF1” served as the base of the new “Tenku” drone.

NTT DOCOMO has been carrying out various demonstration experiments with its Cellular Drone™  which utilizes the cell phone LTE network as part of its “DOCOMO Drone Project.” Utilizing its knowledge and mobile technologies, NTT DOCOMO mapped out flight routes that enable stable communication and also monitored the impact of airborne cell phones on the cell phone network at the ground level.

Going forward, the three companies aim to realize a drone-based delivery system for use in urban areas through their work with the Chiba City Drone Delivery Subcommittee.

*Cellular Drone is a trademark of NTT DOCOMO, INC.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten becomes main sponsor of FC Barcelona from the 2017-2018 season

Rakuten becomes main sponsor of FC Barcelona from the 2017-2018 season
Rakuten becomes main sponsor of FC Barcelona from the 2017-2018 season

 

Rakuten will appear on the front of the team jersey and become the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner for the next four seasons, starting July 1, 2017

Tokyo, 2016-Nov-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) today (November 16, 2016) announced it has agreed to a four-year partnership with one of the world’s most esteemed soccer clubs, FC Barcelona. The agreement will see Rakuten become FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and its first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner from the 2017-2018 season, with its name appearing on match-day jerseys.

The partnership will bring together one of the world’s most beloved sporting franchises with a dynamic global company leading the way in e-commerce, communications, digital content and FinTech services for consumers and businesses around the world.

The terms of the agreement were formalized today, in a ceremony at Auditorium 1899 attended by Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. Mr Hiroshi Mikitani, the President of FC Barcelona, Mr. Josep Maria Bartomeu and Vicepresident of Marketing and Media, Mr. Manel Arroyo. It will be ratified at the Club’s Extraordinary meeting of the club members to be held in the coming weeks. The contract term will start from the 2017-2018 season and extend four seasons with an option for an additional fifth season, representing a value of 55 million euros per season.

“As FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner, Rakuten is set to power our global brand strategy and, as FCB’s first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo and PriceMinister to build an innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. “I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten.”

Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona, said, “We are delighted with our agreement with Rakuten, a global brand in innovation whose experience and know-how in the fields of big data, communications and e-commerce will contribute to the future success of FC Barcelona. “This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which have always been an objective for the current Board of Directors. We hope this partnership between Rakuten and FC Barcelona brings unparalleled sporting and commercial success, and helps the club achieve its goal of being a reference point worldwide.”

As the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, Rakuten will support the players and delight FC Barcelona fans and members with new initiatives showcasing the company’s technological prowess in messaging, drones, e-commerce, AI and much more. These initiatives will draw on Rakuten’s global resources, including strengths in Europe across companies such as Viber, the mobile messaging and calling app; Wuaki, the video-streaming service established in Barcelona and now available in 12 countries; PriceMinister, one of France’s leading e-commerce sites; and Kobo, a global digital e-reading service now available in 12 European countries. Across the globe, Rakuten companies in Japan and the US, including the Rakuten Ichiba e-commerce marketplace, the US-based shopping cashback service Ebates and OverDrive, a distributor of eBooks to libraries, will also provide invaluable support to the partnership.

Rakuten’s Viber, the global mobile messaging and calling app, will also become FC Barcelona’s Official Communications Channel.

Rakuten’s support of professional sports teams in Japan has led to impressive results. Rakuten owns the Vissel Kobe football club, one of the leading teams in Japan’s professional J-League, and in 2004, established Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a professional baseball team that went on to win the Japan Series in 2013.

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is one of the world’s leading internet services companies, offering a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 12,000 employees worldwide.
For more information visit http://global.rakuten.com/corp/

About FC Barcelona
Established in 1899, FC Barcelona is one of the world’s leading football clubs, based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The club has won the Spanish professional football league, La Liga, 24 times and the UEFA Champions League five times. Known affectionately as Barça, the club is owned by an association of some 145,000 supporters.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten opens its online store on 11STREET, one of South Korea’s leading online marketplaces

Tokyo, 2016-Oct-31 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc., operator of Japan’s largest online shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba, today announced the opening of a Rakuten online flagship store on 11STREET, one of South Korea’s leading online marketplaces. The newly launched store aims to provide South Korean consumers with high quality and popular merchandise from Japan.

At the time of launch, Rakuten’s online flagship store will feature a variety of fashion goods, beauty and sports products from leading Japanese merchants.

“Rakuten is delighted to announce this collaboration to offer Korean consumers a great variety of high-quality products from popular Rakuten merchants in Japan” said Ryoji Yasutome, Vice Senior Manager Cross Border Trading at Rakuten. “11STREET is a vibrant and innovative online marketplace and we’re excited to be partnering with them on this new cross-border initiative.”

11STREET has a global network of 260,000 sellers, small merchants, brand names, department stores and supermarket chains serving 23 million registered members in its South Korean home market and abroad with shoppers spending $6 billion annually on its sites.

“Korean consumer demand for high quality Japanese and international goods continues to grow at a double figure rate,” said Joon Young Park, Senior VP at 11STREET. “Through our partnership with Rakuten, we are able to offer our customers a more exciting cross-border shopping experience with a larger selection of popular products from Japan.”

Rakuten will introduce products to 11STREET customers from categories such as health, living, kitchen, and hobby items and will continue to expand the product line-up over the coming months. 11STREET and Rakuten will provide support services to participating merchants such as translation, listings, merchandising advice, shipping and customer support.

Rakuten continues to expand cross-border trading building on the successes of Rakuten flagship stores launched on JD.com and Kaola.com in China, as well as Gmarket in South Korea.

Rakuten Flagship Store on 11STREET:

http://shop.11st.co.kr/rakuten

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is one of the world’s leading Internet services companies, offering a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 12,000 employees worldwide.

Source: Rakuten, Inc.