Going Shopping
    Category: E-Gang By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 1759 Date : Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:08:34

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    It's been nearly a year since Japan's online merchant Rakuten split with media tycoon Hary Tanoedoesibjo's Media Nusantara Corp. (MNC) in March last year in their joint venture Rakuten Belanja Online (RBO), started in 2011. Rakuten has now taken full control of the venture and is pushing into new areas to build the site.

    RBO Chief Executive Ryota Inaba said the split came because the two partners had different goals for the site. “We had different visions on how to make this business grow bigger. Rakuten is more focused on hardware and IT. But MNC is big in media—it has online, TV, print also radio, so for MNC, getting advertisements was very important. If some day we want to build TV, then MNC will become the right partner. But, currently, advertisements is not our focus.” says Ryota, who says Rakuten is currently looking at other ways to collaborate with MNC. 

    Ryota says Rakuten is committed to the Indonesian market and is trying out some new initiatives to gain traction. To draw traffic, RBO has start offering Viki, the Asian video streaming service that Rakuten acquired last year. “We know that Indonesians love Korean and other Asian dramas, so they can visit for both shopping and watching their favorites movies,’’ says Ryota. The added service is meant to reinforce RBO's tagline: “shopping is entertainment.”

     Rakuten also hosted its second annual Rakuten Expo Jakarta last November, at which it unveiled a number of initiatives for its business here. For one, RBO has signed an agreement in December last year with one of the largest local logistics companies, the Caraka group, to deliver products to Papua, where the lack of retail shops means residents there may be more willing to go online to buy products. The effort is called Project HOPE.

    Ryota has big plans for Rakuten's efforts here. The online merchant is one of the largest in the world, and in its home country of Japan, it is the most popular online shopping site. In 2012, the company reported total global revenues of $4.7 billion.

    In Indonesia, Ryota faces some tough competition and may have an uphill battle. According to Internet ranking service Alexa, RBO (under the URL www.rakuten.co.id) ranks it as 502 in the country. Some of its local competitors have much better rankings, such as Tokobagus, ranked at 12, Rocket Internet's Lazada, ranked at 30, and Bhinneka, ranked at 59. These numbers imply that Rakuten has a long way to go to win market share and users.

    Ryota says the company saw many obstacles when entering Indonesia's market. First is the lack of infrastructure, as having good logistics to deliver products is key strategic asset to a company such as RBO. “We have addressed this issue. In the Jakarta area, Rakuten has its own delivery service. We also work together with local logistics companies,” says Ryota.