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Malaysia's Caring Pharmacy coaxed back to e-commerce: interview

AvantiKumar | Sept. 13, 2013
A new partnership with Japan's Rakuten has removed the bitter medicine of Caring Pharmacy's previous e-commerce experiences, says the Malaysia-based pharmacy.

Rakuten Masaya Ueno  modified

Photo -  Masaya Ueno, CEO and President of Rakuten Online Shopping

Could you give some comments on why Caring Pharmacy chose your solution?

Based on our business model, we thought that Rakuten's platform would be an excellent fit for CARiNG Pharmacy's online venture. CARiNG's products consist of both basic necessities as well as supplementary items, and extending their product offerings online would be a natural next step. This enables them to not only provide their existing customers with an efficient and convenient way to purchase their products, but also extend CARiNG's reach to other areas across Malaysia that do not have a pharmaceutical retail outlet.

One of CARiNG's business propositions is to maximise their interaction with customers and merchandise, and having an online store on Rakuten facilitates that perfectly. Customers can leisurely browse on the online catalogue from the comfort of their home.

What would you say is different about Rakuten's platform?

At Rakuten, we run on a B2B2C (business to business to consumer) model, which brings the best of both worlds to merchants and customers. The model was first developed and employed by Rakuten back in 1997 in Japan, allowing merchants to build online storefronts on Rakuten's e-commerce platform, while providing consumers a new and interactive online shopping experience. With this model, merchants are able to sell directly to consumers online using the platform, tools and know-how provided by Rakuten. We believe that for online marketplaces to evolve and continue to prosper, it is essential that merchants, who are the lifeblood of the business, are empowered to make the very most of the channel to build their brands and customer relationships.

This unique e-commerce platform helps merchants to build their own virtual shop-fronts and set their own sales strategies without fear of being undercut by the very marketplace through which they are retailing.

The online marketplace owners, who play the role of a landlord, hold no product stock nor do any sales of their own. The online marketplace then becomes shop-centric, not product-centric. Merchants are entitled to the freedom to build their brands and improve sales how they see fit.

Looking ahead, what does Rakuten aim to achieve in the region?

Rakuten is currently in the third phase of its Asia Pacific strategy, which focuses on increasing its investment in financial and human resources, along with acquisition of new payment partners such as MasterCard MasterPass in Malaysia.

Rakuten also launched its US$10 million Rakuten Asia startup fund in April, and the fund is intended to incorporate startups into Rakuten's strong e-commerce networks and establish "synergy," rather than for purely financial purposes.

Additionally, we had a series of promotional activities with Celcom, AmBank, RHB Bank, and Era FM. We also recently partnered with LINE to launch the Rakuten Malaysia account, which is Malaysia's first corporate Official Account.

We recently acquired global video streaming platform Viki. The acquisition represents a significant step forward for Rakuten as it continues to add to its digital content offerings and launch its Internet services ecosystem into new markets.

Rakuten's brand awareness has definitely increased among consumers over the past six months, as we have seen a steady increase in both merchants and customers. We currently have 130 merchants and more than 40,000 products on our marketplace, and have seen a 25 percent increase of member sign-ups on a month-to-month basis, with a 400 percent increase in our number of orders.

Rakuten will continue to accelerate our global expansion to include like-minded companies to join our family as we expand our scope, scale and geography. Our aim for the near future is to recreate the success we have had so far globally in more countries with our unique B2B2C "virtual shopping centre" model combined with our culture-based, high-service mindset (which we call "omotenashi"). We will stay committed to keeping pace with Asia's evolving Internet landscape and become more competitive in the region and achieve our goal of becoming the number one Internet service company in the world.

Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with more than 10,000 employees worldwide, and offers a variety of consumer- and business-focused services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing, logistics and professional sports.


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