Rakuten Inc., operator of Japan’s largest Internet shopping site, Rakuten Ichiba, plans to make its full online shopping service available on mobile phones by the end of the year, company officials said Saturday.
Currently, Rakuten has contracts with about 480 online shops to offer a total of about 20,000 items on mobile phones, but when the new system is launched, mobile phone users will be able to choose from about 1 million items offered by around 5,500 shops if the full online shopping service is made available.
Rakuten started the service for mobile phones in September 2000. It has proved popular with young women, with many buying accessories and cosmetics. However, as much as 70 percent to 80 percent of customers say they make online purchases only through mobile phones and not personal computers, according to Rakuten officials.
By offering the full online shopping service to mobile phone users, Rakuten hopes to attract customers in a wider age range, the officials said.
In May, trading volume on Rakuten Ichiba via mobile phones was 10 times greater than a year before.
Industry watchers say the planned debut of a huge online shopping mall made available to mobile phone users could affect how people do ordinary shopping.
Rakuten Ichiba offers a range of items, from fresh fruit to real estate, and shoppers will only need to take out their mobile phones to check whether prices at shops are cheaper than prices offered by the online shops.
In 2001, overall trading volume on Rakuten Ichiba stood at around 52.2 billion yen, about 2.2 times greater than the year before.
“By 2005, we hope to increase trading volume to 1 trillion yen,” Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani said.
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