Japan’s Leading ECommerce Site Rakuten: Mobile Expert Review

3 min read
Ben Logan
Service Design

Rakuten is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and has been operating in Tokyo since 1997 and is among the world’s largest by sales. Rakuten has been on the acquisition war path for several years, counting both and the Video on Demand service Wuaki.TV (read our case study on research we carried out on Wuaki.TV).

Rakuten have been running a dual branded site over at for a while now, and its clear that with the release of the mobile site yesterday that they are looking to move more into the UK market, and possibly replace the brand in the near future.  The site is essentially an online marketplace which operates like Ebay, and aims to bring together digital and physical products from third party sellers, although in my opinion, its not quite as usable as other market leaders.  In this review we take a very brief look at the site through an iPhone 5s and report on some areas that could be improved.


As with most sites an initial cookie message is displayed when the site first loads.  This is good practice but I found the red cross in the grey box in the corner hard to press.  Also the screen did not seem to fit within the iPhone 5s viewport.  We have iOS 8 running on this iPhone 5s, so this may have played a part in this.  However, refreshing the screen a few times seemed to make this fit in the viewport.

Homepage Ratuken

All Categories menu

The option to filter your product categories is currently not that useful in that the only option displayed is the ‘All Categories’ option.  It is not clear if this is a bug, or if this will contain options at a later date, but at present this is giving the customer a false sense of hope around filtering.  Another thing that struck me was the text used to encourage you to perform a search e.g. ‘Search in Entire Mall’.  I feel that ‘Mall’ is a label that is more suited to other markets e.g. the USA and Japan, but used less in the UK.  This is a reminder that the localisation of text in a specific market is very important.

Ratuken homepage search mall label

Rotating carousel banner

The rotating carousel banner is moving too fast and is quite distracting.  This is highlighted further by the fact that both carousels move at the same time.  Whilst I am not a huge fan of rotating banners, there should definitely not be two moving at the same time.  The quick fix, if I had to keep one rotating carousel, would be to disable the ‘Our Featured Products’ carousel and leave it as an area the customer can choose to swipe.

Ratuken homepage carousel

Product page

The product page is clear and simple and fairly well laid out, but there does seem to be a lot of white space.  The image area at the top could be better used, but as this site aims to handle the selling of a variety of different products, I can understand why that space may be required.  One of the areas that could be improved in the product page is the layout of the descriptive text as this is truncated in parts and hard to read.

Ratuken - roduct page text truncated

The site is a good experience overall but needs some work to get it to be a market leading contender like Amazon and eBay. The word Rakuten does in fact mean ‘optimisim’ and I am confident as Rakuten gathers more feedback from its customers that it will improve the current mobile offering that launched this week.

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