Japanese-based e-commerce platform Rakuten announced today it will be closing its marketplaces in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia by the end of March 2016 as part of what it dubs a Vision 2020 transformation, e27 confirmed with a company spokesperson.
As a result of the shutdown, the company will lay off a number of workers but, according to the spokesperson, “the group of employees to be impacted by the close of the B2B2C e-commerce marketplaces is under 150”.
The company said it will provide redundancy compensation above and beyond legal requirements and work to find those affected alternative jobs.
Citing changes in the e-commerce model, Rakuten is also in the process of selling off its Thailand-based platform Tarad.
Despite closing the marketplace, the company will still maintain its regional Asian headquarters in Singapore.
According to the official Rakuten Vision 2020 announcement, the strategy is a move inwards, pushing resources into its strong markets of Japan and Taiwan as well as bolstering major investments.
“Transformation of the business model for e-commerce will include a greater focus on customer satisfaction and a quality experience in Japan, where Rakuten is the market leader; development of the ecosystem model in Taiwan;” the statement read.
It went on to lay out a vision for an e-commerce strategy in the United States utilising the rebate commerce site ebates — which it bought in September 2014 for US$1 billion.
The statement also emphasised cross-border trading in East Asia.
The final piece of the Vision 2020 puzzle is a C2C mobile app called Rakuma, which, according to the Rakuten Vision 2020 Power Point, will aimed at Southeast Asia.
Rakuten is an investor into Singapore C2C marketplace Carousell, so moving forward it will be worth watching how Rakuten integrates Rakuma into the region.
The name Vision 2020 was coined because the plan outlined by Rakuten is a road map for its international businesses to achieve profitability by the year 2020.
The announcement was made during the release of Rakuten’s fiscal year 2015 results. While the company achieved a revenue of 713 billion yen (US$6.3 billion) it saw a 37.7 per cent drop in year-on-year net income.
When asked by e27 if the restructuring was related to the fiscal data, the Rakuten spokesperson said, “We can’t comment on the direct impact of the closures in APAC but we see upside in the future due to reallocation of development resources.”