Rakuten moves into coupons after snapping up 70% of Japan-based Shareee

Rakuten moves into coupons after snapping up 70% of Japan-based Shareee

Japan-headquartered e-commerce giant Rakuten has planted its feet firmly in the coupon commerce space after it announced the acquisition of a 70 percent share of Shareee, Japan’s third largest coupon site.

No financial details have been revealed but the deal has already seen Rakuten executive officer Yoshiaki Onishi become CEO of the coupon service, as of August 31. Rakuten will jointly run Shareee — which includes offers for restaurants, hotel bookings and other lifestyle-focused deals — with fellow investor Hikari Tsushin.

The company says that the acquisition strengthens its already wide-reaching online commerce ecosystem in Japan, with Shareee’s coupon business particularly complementary to its ‘Ichiba’ virtual mall and Rakuten Travel service.

Rakuten is already making plans to unify Shareee with its own payment and customer incentive system. To that point, Rakuten will bring its Anshin payment system to the service, which it says will increase traffic and add customers to its Super Points customer reward scheme. It will additionally align Sharee with its own 2-year-old service, Racoupon.

The company is also stressing the offline benefits of the deal, which will expand its considerable reach — estimated at 78 million regular customers in Japan — into a new area.

Rakuten is currently enjoying greater global awareness following a $100 million investment in social sharing service Pinterest made in May. Shareee could well be influenced by that deal, with dedicated Pinterest sharing badges may well come to the site, since they have rolled out to other Rakukten services in Japan already.

The Japanese giant is a regular buyer of new services and companies, and it uses a primarily acquisition-led approach to expand its business into new geographies and consumer markets.

Rakuten’s most recent deal, prior to Sharee, marked a departure from its regular focus on e-commerce, however, after it picked up Spanish video-on-demand service Wuaki.tv.

The company remains strongest in its home country, and it says its domestic e-commerce business is worth 1.2 trillion yen, based on its gross transaction volume during 2011.

Image via Journaldunet

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