Recently, Rakuten organised a panel discussion on the topic of “Effective E-commerce Marketing”, which saw participation from Carousell, Facebook, Google, Rakuten and the Singapore Economic Development Board. The panelists share their thoughts on the e-commerce ecosystem as well as on how businesses can supercharge their marketing efforts with all the various tools available at their disposal.
The gist of the panel discussions will be appended at the end of the interview below. Representing Rakuten Singapore is Shingo Okamoto, Head of E-Commerce (EC).
1. What was the impetus to open a separate site in Singapore as compared to just extending delivery?
A big part of our Asia-Pacific business is in the Southeast Asia region. Singapore is a very important market for us, and is the location of our regional headquarters established last year. Singapore was chosen because of its close proximity to our businesses in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
There is definitely huge potential for growth in Singapore, as its citizens are one of the most hyper-connected and internet / technology savvy around the world. People in Singapore, whose lives are so busy, are looking for convenience and e-commerce lets them shop from the comfort of their own home, or on-the-go.
By launching the Rakuten Singapore we are able to offer customers in Singapore with the products they want, such as food, fashion, health and beauty.
We’ve seen encouraging results since our soft launch last December. It has been about five months, and our member base has tripled since the soft launch, and the Singapore marketplace has grown to include over 170 Rakuten merchants and over 120,000 products.
2. Since opening, what has been the preferred delivery/collection option? Direct to door or collection from SingPost Popstation?
We are working with reputable partners (Ta-Q-Bin and SingPost) to ensure that all logistical issues are dealt with in a smooth and efficient manner. Delivery is a very important aspect of any online e-commerce business, and every aspect of our delivery process is tried and tested.
Since January, we’ve been running various campaigns to offer customers free Taqbin delivery within Singapore, with a minimum spend. This has been very popular, as most of our customers enjoy the convenience of courier delivery.
3. Will Rakuten consider selling Halal produce?
We are always eager to work with new merchants, and to satisfy our customers. We may consider exploring this if we start seeing a demand in Singapore for Halal produce sold online, and if there are merchants we can work with that offer quality halal products.
4. Will Rakuten enable purchases coming from Pinterest sites?
We don’t have plans for such an initiative at the moment, but we may consider doing so in the future. At this point, we are focused on engaging new and existing followers on our current social media platforms, including the Rakuten Singapore Facebook Page and our Line account.
5. Some people may consider the loyalty plans a little confusing. How will you address that?
You can think of Rakuten Super Points almost in the same way you would think about cash. Super Points are earned on each purchase you make on Rakuten and can be redeemed to purchase future items. You can use all, some, or none, at any time. In Japan, where Rakuten Super Points are the longstanding most popular loyalty program, we are even testing using Super Points to make offline purchases.
6. Will Rakuten Singapore consider increasing the number of payment gateways / options?
We are always keen to explore new partnerships that make it easier and more enjoyable for customers to shop on the Rakuten marketplace.
7. What do you see Rakuten Singapore achieving within three years?
As we work towards establishing our position as a global leader in Singapore’s e-commerce industry, it’s important not to lose sight of our corporate philosophy to empower merchants and consumers. We will continue to explore new and innovative ways to enable our merchants to become curators (instead of vendors), and encourage them to build a community of loyal followers, who will drive the majority of their sales.
E-commerce is an important part of our business, but it is just one part of the Rakuten ecosystem. While it may not happen within the next three years, our ultimate aim is to grow the Rakuten ecosystem here, so that it includes other services, ranging from finance services to digital content.
We thank Shingo Okamoto and the good folks at Text100 Singapore for facilitating the interview. Now read on for the gist of the panel summary.