|Headquarters||Saint Helier, Jersey|
|Products||DVDs, music CDs, books, electronics, gadgets, music downloads, video games, clothing, accessories|
|Alexa rank||4,111 (December 2013[update])|
Play Ltd., trading as Play.com, is a Jersey-based online retailer of DVDs, CDs, books, gadgets, video games, DRM-free MP3 downloads, and other electronic products, as well as clothing and accessories. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten.
Founded in 1998, Play.com was one of the first online retailers to target the UK. Play.com has 7 million registered customers and a catalogue of over 8 million products. After changes to the rules of Low Value Consignment Relief in April 2012, which had previously exempted the company's sales from certain taxes, it was announced that Play.com would be closing its direct retail business in March 2013. Since then, the website has operated as a marketplace for third party sellers to sell through.
Play.com was founded in 1998 under the name Play247.com, but rebranded as Play.com in 2000. Play.com originally sold region 1 and 2 DVDs only, but has since expanded its range to include CDs and video games and other electronic items. Since 2004 it has sold books and electronics, in 2006 it started selling personal computers, posters and T-shirts and in 2007 it started selling HD DVDs and Blu-rays, with sister site PlayUSA.com selling region 1 DVDs, HD DVDs and region A Blu-ray Discs and offering sales in a range of currencies. The site's interface has been redesigned on a number of occasions.
In 2008, Play.com started selling DRM-free MP3s, clothing, accessories, and tickets for events, allowing customers to buy and sell tickets. They also held a consumer games show which was open to the public, with tickets available through Play.com. This event was backed by Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Activision, and THQ among others.
On 15 January 2009, a survey published by Verdict Research found Play.com was the UK's second favourite music and video retailer, behind first place Amazon.co.uk and ahead of the now defunct entertainment retailer Zavvi which was third. On 24 February 2009, it was reported that Play.com had topped the National Consumer Satisfaction Index, ahead of Amazon.co.uk and iTunes.
In May 2009, Play.com launched a branded Visa credit card in partnership with MBNA. Cardholders received points for purchases made on the website and at other retailers. Points could then be redeemed against products bought on the Play.com website.
The PlayUSA.com website was closed down in February 2011. In September 2011, Japan-based Rakuten purchased Play.com for £25 million.
Since March 2013, Play.com has operated solely as a marketplace, allowing third party sellers to sell products with their listings hosted on the website. Sellers can pay a monthly subscription plus a percentage-based closing fee, or pay no subscription in favour of a flat closing fee for each item. The switch to a marketplace-only business from the previous direct-to-consumer sales model was in response to the closure of the tax loophole which allowed for VAT-free imports from the Channel Islands to the UK mainland.
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