Rakuten: To Stay or Not To Stay In The UK?
In 2016, Rakuten, the largest e-commerce company in Japan, was at the crossroads of its UK operations. After 2008, Rakuten had accelerated internationalization, mainly by acquiring local e-commerce companies. In the foreign markets, Rakuten leveraged its e-commerce platform model, with which it had achieved huge success in the Japanese e-commerce market in the 2000s. In 2011, it acquired UK-based e-commerce company, Play.com. At that time, Play.com faced challenges in the local e-commerce market because of strong competitors, especially Amazon and eBay. Rakuten tried to boost the competitive advantage by adopting its e-commerce model. However, attracting local users and merchants in the UK market proved difficult for Rakuten. Should Rakuten continue its European expansion program? What should the company do in the UK market and with Play.com in particular? Should Rakuten stay in the United Kingdom? Naoto Nadayama is affiliated with Kanagawa University. Arto Lindblom is affiliated with Aalto University.