The online shopping venture between Rakuten Inc of Japan and President Chain Store Corp (
The venture is Rakuten Inc's first virtual shopping mall to operate outside Japan, and the company hopes to persuade small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt its e-commerce platform.
"The company has faith that the collaboration between Rakuten's management know-how and President Chain Store's retail platform will help boost Taiwan's economy," said Yuichi Ejiri, president of Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba Inc.
President Chain Store, the nation's largest convenience store chain with 4,600 7-Eleven stores, signed a NT$174 million (US$5.63 million) agreement on Nov. 29 last year with Rakuten to create an online shopping venture in Taiwan.
Rakuten owns 51 percent of the venture, while President Chain Store owns the rest. Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba Inc expects to break even in 2010, with its number of virtual stores expanding to 3,000 within three years.
"We expect the site to have signed up more than 100 virtual stores before the launch of operations in mid-May and we expect this number to grow by 100 stores per month," said Alex Lin (
To avoid competition with Yahoo-Kimo Inc (雅虎奇摩) and PChome eBay Co (露天市集), two of the nation's major shopping Web sites, Lin said his company would explore niche markets, such as SMEs that have not yet opened online businesses.
"Taiwan's online shopping market has enormous growth potential, as it only accounts for 3 percent of the domestic retail sector," Lin said.
Founded in February 1997, Tokyo-based Rakuten had 3,283 employees and 22,677 virtual stores at the end of last month, with up to 21 million items for sale online.
Shares of President Chain Store declined by NT$0.9, or 1.84 percent, to NT$48 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.
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