Japanese-based Rakuten has been on a buying spree of late, with recent purchases including Play.com back in 2011 and Kobo in 2012. It’s also the owner of Buy.com and the Rakuten marketplace, as well as an investor in Pinterest. It’s unlikely you’ve heard much of Rakuten previously, but it’s now firmly marching ahead with internet domination and with the purchase of Viber, this shows no signs of easing.
Viber was originally set up in Israel and now claims to have 300m users worldwide. For Rakuten to develop it’s own messaging system and to get this global penetration would have taken years, but with this purchase Rakuten now have an established app that can be utilised by Rakuten’s different business interests. It’s expected (and has been hinted to by Rakuten) that the technology will be used for consumers to message an online store before making a purchase.
The purchase of Viber also comes not longer after Rakuten acquired Webgistix in 2013. Webgistix is a US based logistics company that specialises in fulfillment for online retailers, helping Rakuten to improve fulfillment outside of it’s native Japan. When you look at these two acquisitions together, it’s clear that Rakuten are looking to invest heavily in expanding it’s e-commerce operations, ensuring fulfillment is seamless (with Webgistix) and that consumers can easily contact sellers via the Viber technology.
It’s an interesting move and Rakuten Marketing is definitely one to watch over the coming years, as we also expect to see a continued focus on apps across each e-commerce platform it owns.