Screen shot of www.rakuten.co.id, or Rakuten Belanja Online, a local affiliate of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten was taken on Feb. 26, 2015 at 12.07.07 AM.

E-Commerce Giant Rakuten Trains SMEs in Indonesia

BY :VANESHA MANUTURI

FEBRUARY 26, 2015

Jakarta. Rakuten Belanja Online, the local affiliate of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, seeks to woo Indonesia’s small- and medium-sized enterprises by providing e-commerce courses as part of its growth strategy in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Global e-commerce players such as Rakuten are eying Indonesia as a potential market, largely due to the rapid growth the country’s young and affluent middle class.

The online shopping platform earlier this week officiated Southeast Asia’s first Rakuten University program, consisting of a series of courses the company offers to its merchants.

“The Indonesian market is expanding at the fastest rate, so to the meet the demand, we need to develop the market,” Yasunobu Hashimoto, the director of Rakuten Belanja Online, said on Wednesday.

The Rakuten University program, which was first started in Japan by the company’s chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani back in 2000, is intended to help merchants who are listed with Rakuten to increase their sales through courses ranging from search engine optimization to photography.

The courses are also expected to attract more merchants to use Rakuten’s services, Hashimoto said, although he declined to mention any specific targets.

Rakuten Belanja Online currently has around 1,000 merchants across the nation, he said.

Technology research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has estimated that the value of e-commerce transactions in the archipelago could total $3 billion this year, in line with increasing smartphone use in the country.

Hashimoto said the Rakuten University could improve the service level of Rakuten Belanja Online. “If our merchants’ service levels improve, then Rakuten’s service level improves,” he said.

The first day of courses, which was due  to be attended by 30 merchants, began at the company’s Jakarta headquarters on Monday, according to Hashimoto.

Before Rakuten University, the online shopping platform launched in October last year, the MicroB program, which was aimed at encouraging micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses to enter e-commerce.

“SMEs contribute nearly 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and employ over 97 percent of the workforce,” Hashimoto said, citing government data. “We believe that empowering them is the key to support the local community.”

China’s e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is reportedly also making plans to expand into Indonesia soon.

Globe Asia

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