Can Rakuten Personalize E-Commerce?

The Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has been turning heads in the United States, first by snapping up and then by investing $100 million in Pinterest.

Rakuten is not just another Amazon wannabe. The Tokyo-based company believes it should “aid merchants rather than compete with them,” according to Wall Street Journal blogger Kara Swisher, who shortly after the Pinterest investment interviewed Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

That personalized, merchant-centered approach can be seen on’s start page, which includes the slogan: “buy from people, not the Internet.”

You can read more about how Rakuten’s “omotenashi” (empowerment) philosophy is playing out in e-commerce at

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