Rakuten and eBay Partnering to Introduce Japanese Used Items to U.S. Market

Rakuten Company CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani

Japan’s Rakuten Group (4755.T) is partnering with eBay (EBAY.O) to test U.S. demand for used Japanese fashion goods, benefiting from the yen trading near a 34-year low.

This collaboration, which began on May 8 with just seven vendors on Rakuten’s second-hand goods unit Rakuma, aims to capitalize on the favorable currency exchange rate and a global shift towards bargain hunting due to cost-of-living pressures.

In exchange for commissions on sales, eBay lists selected goods from Rakuma on its site, while a Rakuten-contracted vendor handles shipping and customer service in the U.S.

The trial focuses on used fashion and accessories, which are popular overseas because of Japanese users’ reputation for taking excellent care of their luxury items, said Rakuma general manager Kenichiro Hasegawa.

Rakuten – eBay

“Because of the use of cases and covers and such, these second-hand goods are in quite good shape,” Hasegawa said. “To say something is ‘used in Japan’ gives some immediate value.”

This partnership comes amid an investment and tourism boom in Japan, driven in part by the yen’s decline, which has made Japanese goods relatively inexpensive.

Second-hand stores, especially in Tokyo’s electronics district of Akihabara, have been crowded with international customers looking for vintage games and toys.

Rakuten – eBay

Rakuten did not provide a sales target for the venture with eBay. Hasegawa noted that there has not been any feedback from the seven vendors yet, but if the trial is successful, the goal would be to connect all Rakuma shops and users with eBay.

Used and refurbished items account for about 40% of eBay’s gross merchandise volume. Global sales of “thrifted” clothing, shoes, and accessories increased more than five-fold in March 2024 from the previous year, the company reported.

After the U.S., eBay’s next biggest markets are Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The “ultimate goal” would be to expand Rakuma offerings to those countries, said Naoki Kitamura, eBay Japan’s head of category management.

Nate O'Hara
Nathan is a seasoned commerce writer with a passion for unraveling the intricacies of the business world and distilling them into engaging narratives. During his academic journey, he delved deep into subjects like economics, marketing, and entrepreneurship, honing his analytical skills and developing a keen understanding of market dynamics.