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How to sell on Rakuten

Create loyal customers by offering hands-on service to succeed with this online marketplace.

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Rakuten is an online marketplace for competing sellers. Instead of driving a race to the lowest price, Rakuten encourages sellers to create loyal customers through unforgettable hospitality and customer service.

Rakuten is a great outlet for sellers who value customer service and interaction, but to earn loyalty, you have to deliver rapid responses and be attentive to the buyers.

What can I sell on Rakuten?

Similar to Amazon, Rakuten provides extensive and diverse categories to market your goods. Some categories include:

  • Electronics
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories
  • Home and outdoor
  • Beauty and personal care
  • Health
  • Bags and luggage
  • Toys, toddler and baby
  • Pet supplies
  • Media
  • Food and beverage
  • Office supplies
  • Automotive and parts
  • Everything else

Rakuten covers nearly everything you’d expect from an online retailer, and sellers are welcome to sell in any category so long as their items are legal and approved by Rakuten.

How much does it cost to use Rakuten?

Rakuten has three separate fees:

  • Individual fee for each item sold: $0.99
  • Monthly account fee: $39 a month
  • Commissions determined by category:
CategoryCommission
Automotive and parts12%
Bags and luggage15%
Beauty and personal care15%
Clothing, shoes and accessories15%
Electronics > computers8%
Electronics > software and video games10%
Food and beverage15%
Health15%
Home and outdoor15%
Home and outdoor > appliances10%
Home and outdoor > hobbies15%
Home and outdoor > hobbies > musical instruments12%
Media15%
Office supplies12%
Pet supplies15%
Sports and fitness15%
Toys, toddlers and baby12%
Warranties15%
Everything else15%

Let’s crunch the numbers

Bryce, the owner of Bryce’s Computers, sells computers and media through Rakuten. Bryce makes a domestic sale that includes a new computer, a video game and a Blu-ray disc, all with taxes and shipping included. Let’s look at the fees Bryce pays:

ItemCostFee percentAmountItem feeTotal earned after commission
New computer$8008%$64$0.99$735.01
Video game$6010%$6$0.99$53.01
Blu-ray disc$3015%$4.50$0.99$24.51

In total, Bryce loses $77.97 to fees on the total sale of $890 – approximately 11.5%. Bryce’s total net profit on this sale is $812.52.

Is selling on Rakuten worth it?

Selling on Rakuten can be worth it if you are a skilled seller who dedicates their time to selling online. If you are a new, occasional or hands-off seller, Rakuten may not be worth the time and fees it requires. Selling on Rakuten’s website can be worth it if you are:

  • Already selling on other websites. Selling on Rakuten could be the next step to grow your online business, especially if you’re forced to drop your prices on other online marketplaces to compete. When you have items in high demand, selling them through Rakuten can help build your loyal customer base.
  • Considering selling globally. Rakuten is one of the most popular online retailers in Japan, so it’s a great step to entering the international market. Japan refers to the suite of Rakuten products as “Rakuten World,” which includes one of the most popular credit cards in Japan, a massive online bank, a wireless network and even a streaming service.

Rakuten may not be for you if you are:

  • Brand new to selling online. Then launching on Rakuten may be difficult since you’ll be dependent on driving traffic yourself to your digital storefront.
  • Only selling as a side gig. Selling on Rakuten takes time and attention to build loyal customers. If you’re looking for a site to set and forget your items, Rakuten may not be for you.

Rakuten Super Points explained

Tapping into Rakuten’s existing loyal customer base could help boost your sales, especially if you understand how their points-based system rewards users.

As of December, 2019, Rakuten offers the following benefits for super point members:

  • Earn points on everything. 1% back every day for everything listed on Rakuten.
  • Special member days. Member events offer up to 20x back in points.
  • Bonus store events. Receive up to 15x back in points from select merchants.
  • Customized deals. Rakuten emails members with specific products and deals based on their shopping history, which would lead to customers returning to your store after making a purchase.

Users earn Rakuten Super Points every time they shop through Rakuten, and the points convert at a ratio of 100 = $0.01. As a Rakuten store owner you’ll have the chance to build your customer base through special store events and promotions.

How to start selling on Rakuten

Becoming a seller on Rakuten is fairly simple and straightforward.

  1. First, visit the seller portal and click Apply.
    Rakuted portal
  2. Next, fill out the provided application.Rakuten Application
  3. Play the waiting game. Typically, Rakuten will get back to you within three to 10 business days with the next steps, helping you as needed to bring you on board.

Once you’re accepted as a seller, upload your catalog, begin designing your storefront and work on gaining traction in a new marketplace. There are four ways to upload your products:

  • RMS web tool
  • FTP feeds
  • Open API
  • Third-party integrator with Rakuten partner options

Be prepared to start selling on Rakuten when you apply. You have three weeks from when you open your account to upload all necessary content to for your storefront to go live. If you miss that window, Rakuten may suspend your account, and you could be charged $199 to reopen the account.

How to price your items

Pricing your items on Rakuten is unique compared to other marketplaces. Take into account:

  • Return customers. You’re able to price items a bit higher when you get return customers due to your outstanding customer service. People shopping on Rakuten are looking for trustworthy merchants — not necessarily the lowest price.
  • Price synchronicity across channels. It’s Rakuten’s policy that you price your items the same across your sale platforms — including Rakuten. You can’t undercut your Rakuten storefront with lower prices on other sites.
  • Diverse fees. Take into account the monthly and sales fees, commission and shipping costs when determining the cost of your items.

What type of payment does Rakuten accept?

Rakuten accepts the standard array of payment options, including the following:

  • Major credit cards
  • Major debit cards
  • PayPal
  • Rakuten Super Points

You can accept payment with one method, or a mix of Rakuten Super Points and a credit card. You can’t split a bill between two credit or debit cards.

Sellers are paid through direct deposit to their bank accounts weekly, minus any fees or subscriptions. Sellers can be outside of the United States and still sell within the US market as long as they meet the following criteria:

How to sell in the US market from abroad

  1. Hold a US bank account or use one of the preferred international payment partners.
  2. Hold a US credit card.
  3. Provide a W-8BEN foreign tax form.
  4. Maintain a customer service email address answered during US business hours.
  5. Have a US customer service phone number.
  6. Support a reasonable shipping time frame for US customers.

How to get paid by international buyers

Unfortunately, Rakuten doesn’t allow international sales through its US website. However, in the same way that international sellers can enter the US market if they abide by the list of requirements above, US sellers can sell internationally if they abide by a similar list for the other country. US sellers should definitely take advantage of this to sell abroad in Japan, as Rakuten is far more active there.

Selling in Japan

Japan has different SEO, website designs and product imagery styles than US markets. Designing your store with the intent to sell in the marketplace in Japan will typically include the following:

  • Denser text
  • Extremely mobile-friendly content
  • Heavy use of imagery
  • Short English phrases for promotion

The bare minimum requirement to open a seller account in Japan is that you meet the following criteria:

  1. Have Rakuten confirm that your items are licensed to legally sell in Japan.
  2. Make sure your products comply with Japanese laws and regulations.
  3. Don’t sell products banned by Rakuten.
  4. Hold a Japanese bank account, credit card, tax forms, email address and phone number as per the “How to sell in the US market from abroad” list.

To get the best deal, compare transfer providers ahead of time.

How to ship items on Rakuten

To ship your items requires sellers to align with global shipping trends and offer a two-day shipping option to customers. Sellers must provide the following details in their storefront:

  • Shipping costs
  • Return handling costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Any other costs related to shipping

Sellers have a maximum of seven days to send Rakuten a shipping notice after an order is made or else Rakuten may cancel the order. Sellers on Rakuten should take the following into consideration when determining shipping costs:

  • Rakuten charges their commission fees based on the total amount for the sale, shipping included.
  • Rakuten encourages two-day shipping and pushes for sellers to cover the cost.
  • Sellers can use one of Rakuten’s partner companies for inventory management and shipping for a discount if they desire.

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How can I market my Rakuten products?

On Rakuten, you have a variety of ways to market your items, many of which are very different than other online marketplaces:

  • Create your storefront. Rakuten allows you to create a branded, digital storefront for your products. Once you build up loyal customers, your storefront may be where they go directly when looking for new items.
  • Create custom product pages. These pages allow you to highlight special items, showcasing details bringing them to the center of attention on your storefront.
  • Offer diverse shipping options. Rakuten allows you to list up to 20 different shipping options for customers, though offering free shipping is likely to get you more customers.
  • Work with Rakuten e-commerce consultants. Rakuten can provide staff to review and provide feedback on your pages and listing. They can give key tips to increase sales and improve your descriptions.

What to watch out for when selling with Rakuten

To be successful on Rakuten, avoid the following:

  • Lethargic customer support. During our research, we came across online complaints about Rakuten’s slow customer service department. Users don’t like dealing with unenthusiastic and unhelpful staff.
  • Storefront. Because you’ll own and operate your own storefront on Rakuten, you’re solely responsible for driving customers there through ads, well-designed keywords and interesting products.
  • Fees. Rakuten charges three fees: a $0.99 sales fee, a percentage sales commissions and a monthly subscription fee.
  • Rakuten’s loyalty program. Since customers earn points for shopping on Rakuten, they become loyal to specific storefronts. This is great when you have loyal customers and challenging when trying to break into the market.

Overall, Rakuten may be easier to sell on after you’ve established yourself on other marketplaces.

Compare e-commerce platforms

If you want to be able to sell on more than just Overstock, an e-commerce platform can help you build your own store and sell through multiple channels.

Updated April 9th, 2020
Name Product Products Prices start at Hosting
BigCommerce
Payment processing
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Inventory tracking
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$29.95/mo
Hosted
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce platform created to help you sell more.
Square E-commerce
Payment processing
Website builder
Inventory tracking
Shopping cart software
Shipping software
$0/mo + processing fees of 2.9% + 30¢
Hosted
Easy-to-use online store builder lets you create beautiful layouts to help drive business
Helcim
Payment processing
POS software
POS hardware
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Inventory tracking
0.10% + $0.10 per transaction
Hosted
Conveniently packaged into three service tiers for in-person and online sales.
Shopify
Payment processing
Website builder
Inventory tracking
Shopping cart software
Shipping software
$29/mo
Hosted
Shopify offers both e-commerce and in-person POS systems designed to help you build a new online store from the ground up.
3dcart
Website builder
Inventory tracking
Shopping cart software
Shipping software
$19/mo
Hosted
Helps businesses build online storefronts while offering a variety of service tiers bundled for businesses large or small
Shopify Plus
Payment processing
Website builder
Inventory tracking
Shopping cart software
Shipping software
Varies
Hosted
A customizable solution for enterprise-level e-commerce stores.
X-cart
Website builder
Shopping cart software
Shipping software
$0
Self-hosted
X-Cart is an e-commerce platform that can handle your store as it grows to an enterprise-level business.
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