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In the days before Amazon became an industry leader, they were up against some stiff competition in the shape of Jersey-based online retailer, Play.com. Able to sell DVD's, video games and music, without having to pay VAT because of their location, Play were able to offer customers lower prices than much-larger retailers, such as Amazon. Afterwards, the company expanded into offering electronics and personal computers – it seemed like they were on their way to the top of the industry tree. In 2009, UK consumers voted the website as their favourite retailer.

In 2011 the company was purchased by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten for £25m. In 2013, changes in UK tax laws, to crack down on perceived 'tax havens' such as Jersey, led to Play closing down its operations and moving on to be a marketplace-only website, offering ecommerce services, in which individuals and other businesses would sell their goods. After being incorporated into the Rakuten brand, the website continued under its new name, offering independent businesses an outlet in which trade, but as of 1st September 2016, Rakuten have closed their UK website.

In an e-mail, Rakuten have ensured customers that they will have 'some very exciting news, very soon' to come of their UK operations. The company have also ceased their operations in Spain, but will continue to run and expand their websites in France and Germany. They have assured sellers that they will keep their inventory tools open until the end of the year to allow for refunds or charge-backs on previous orders. They also assured any customers who may have any of their 'Super Points' loyalty rewards, that they are able to be used to watch the latest releases on Rakuten's own in-house video-on-demand service Wuaki.tv, or on their internet calling service Viber Out.

It remains to be seen what Rakuten's next move in the UK will be – whatever it is, it's sure to be an interesting development for the eCommerce world.

Where does this leave eCommerce traders?

If you're an eCommerce trader, then the demise of the Rakuten marketplace will leave a void in your aims to sell your products to as many consumers as possible. However, despite the demise of Rakuten's UK marketplace, there are more shopping websites with which you are able to ingrate your business.

With Store Express, you are able to maintain a simple-to-use Content Management System (CMS) - an integration platform that is able to run as many of your stores on as many marketplaces as you need. A CMS is able to give you full control over your integrated stores, as you'll be controlling them from one platform, rather than from numerous webpages. This will help to make your business run more efficiently, freeing up your time to undertake other tasks that may otherwise, potentially be neglected.

Here are just a few of the marketplaces that Store Express is able to integrate your store(s) with;

  • Amazon – Staring life in 1994, Amazon is now one of the leaders in offering ecommerce services on the web. Aside from selling their own products, Amazon also act as a third-party marketplace for businesses to sell their products. This helps them to integrate with Amazon's marketplace, reaching out to millions of their customers worldwide.
  • eBay – 'the world's most-popular marketplace' is used by individuals and businesses alike to sell goods, be they second-hand, brand-new – or even broken! If you're a business that's sells new items, you are able to stand out significantly by simply using a well-organised CMS system, along with a unique store design.
  • Google Shopping - Very much like its parent search engine, Google Shopping offers a platform in which people are able to search different marketplaces for the best deals on products that they want to buy. Making sure that you are integrated with the platform will be a massive boost to any eCommerce business, as your visibility will be increased ten-fold.

Store Express – bespoke ecommerce solutions for you!

Here at Store Express we have a vast and varied experience in offering ecommerce services for eCommerce businesses of all sizes. If you need more information on any of our services, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0845 050 3500 or send us an e-mail at sales@storeexpress.co.uk and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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