Rakuten.com Shopping

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Not to be confused with Rakuten.
Founded 1997
Founder Scott Blum[1]
Headquarters Aliso Viejo, California[2]
Key people
Masatada "Seichu" Kobayashi, President/CEO
Products Retail: Computers, Electronics, Books, Movies, Video Games, Apparel, Health and Beauty, etc.
Slogan Shopping Is Entertainment
Website www.rakuten.com

Rakuten.com is an online retailer based in Aliso Viejo, California, USA. Previously known as Buy.com, it was founded in 1997 by Scott Blum.[1] The company originally sold computers and electronics and has since expanded into many other categories.[3] Initially Buy.com sold items below cost and intended to make up the losses "from the sale of advertising and ancillary services like warranties and equipment leases."[3] Buy.com sold $111 million worth of goods and services in 1998, its first full year, beating Compaq's record for most first-year sales of any company.[4]


Founder Scott Blum sold his stake to SoftBank in 1999 for $195 million just before the company first filed to go public.[5] Stock values plummeted in the year following Buy.com's initial public offering and in 2001 Blum reacquired Buy.com and took it private for 17 cents per share,[6] or $23.6 million, in November 2001.[7]

In 2002, Buy.com decided to go beyond selling solely electronics, movies and music and began adding more soft goods to their catalog. It was this same time that Blum extended a welcome to Amazon.com customers. Appearing in the Wall Street Journal, Blum’s address promised Amazon customers that Buy.com would prove itself to be the better buying option. This statement came shortly after Buy.com announced a 10% below Amazon.com cost on all books sold on the site and a free shipping site-wide offer.[8]

Later that year Buy.com launched its first issue of BuyMagazine.[1] Buy.com later converted the magazine into an all-digital publication. When Buy.com updated its website in 2006, it announced a marketplace that allows consumers to purchase from various sellers with only one account necessary to process their purchase.[9] At launch, Buy.com had 100 marketplace sellers;[9] the company now works with thousands of sellers that collectively offer 11.5 million products.[10][11] The company has become the second company in eBay history to receive over 1 million positive customer reviews,[10] and holds a satisfaction rating of 99.7%.[12]

In May 2010, Buy.com was acquired by Rakuten, Inc., Japan’s biggest e-commerce company and finalized in July 2010. The acquisition was valued at approximately $250 million (USD).[13] Shortly following the acquisition, on July 22, 2010 Buy.com announced its new 45-day return policy replacing the industry-standard 30-day return policy.[14]

Buy.com reported its best Black Friday performance in company history in November 2010, with more than 45 percent year-over-year sales growth on the Buy.com site. A major driver of the company's overall growth included sales through Buy.com's marketplace, which grew by more than 100 percent compared to Black Friday of the previous year.[15] Again, in November 2010 Buy.com reported its best sales day in company history on Cyber Monday, outpacing its record-breaking Cyber Monday performance in 2009. As of 5 p.m. PST on Monday, Nov. 29, the company experienced 48 percent higher year-over-year sales growth on the Buy.com site.[16]

On January 10, 2013, Rakuten announced the official rebranding of Buy.com to "Rakuten.com".[17]


Buy.com's eBay business has been the subject of much criticism: due to its volume of business, the company has significant advantages over smaller eBay sellers. The company has a special fee arrangement with eBay and pays substantially less for fees than smaller sellers.[18] As a result, it has been accused of unfair practices.

In May 2013, users on SlickDeals.net started complaining about fraudulent charges on credit cards after being used on Rakuten.com. In some cases, Social Security numbers and other information were used to open accounts at other vendors.[19][20]

In April 2014, UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposed the company as the world’s biggest online retailer of whale products and elephant ivory. [21]


  1. ^ a b c "Buy.com Launches Buy.com Magazine". The Write News (Writers Write, Inc.). 1 March 2002. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Company Info - Rakuten.com
  3. ^ a b Nee, Eric (1999-03-29). "Meet Mister Buy(everything).com". Fortune. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  4. ^ "Buy.com Thinks You're Worth More Than Margins". Net4TV Voice. 1999-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  5. ^ Lacy, Sarah (2005-01-26). "Back to the Future at Buy.com". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  6. ^ Hibbard, Justin (2005-01-25). "Buy.com: How Soon We Forget". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  7. ^ Hines, Matt (2005-01-25). "Buy.com bounces back to IPO market". CNET. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Wolverton, Troy (25 June 2002). "Buy.com vows to undersell Amazon books". CNET. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Buy.com's 2.0 Makeover
  10. ^ a b Renfrow, Jacqueline (1 March 2009). "Buy.com Grows Up in a Hurry". Response Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  11. ^ March 4, 2010 - Buy.com
  12. ^ eBay Feedback Profile for buy
  13. ^ Toto, Serkan (20 May 2010). "Buy.com Gets Acquired By Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten For $250 Million". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  14. ^ July 22, 2010 - Buy.com
  15. ^ Nov 27, 2010 - Buy.com
  16. ^ Nov. 29, 2010 - Buy.com
  17. ^ "Rakuten Buy.com Relaunches as Rakuten.com Shopping". www.rakuten.com. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  18. ^ EBay Deal With Buy.com Angers Auction Site's Sellers, The New York Times, 14 July 2008.
  19. ^ Superville, Denisa. "Bogota police warn website users of suspicious charges". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Northrup, Laura. "Here’s Everything We Know About The Rakuten/Buy.com Credit Card Breaches". Consumerist. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Japanese Company Named as Biggest Online Retailer of Ivory and Whale Meat, The Manchester Guardian, 18 March 2014.

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