Rakuten raided by anti-trust officials

Platform Economy: e-commerce shopping from a retail website

Japanese anti-trust officials have raided the offices of Rakuten Inc after complaints from online merchants. The complaints against the Tokyo-based e-commerce platform relate to a new free shipping policy due to come into effect in March.

Currently, the nearly 50,000 independent merchants on Rakuten’s online shopping mall set their shipping fees independently, with some providing free shipping.

Approximately 450 of the 50,000 merchants presented a petition to the FTC last month, claiming Rakuten is abusing its market position by forcing them to shoulder the costs of free shipping for all orders exceeding ¥3,980 (approximately US$36). The change in policy is deemed necessary to compete locally with Amazon.com and its Japanese entity.

With the policy changes due to come in on the 18th March, businesses selling their products on Rakuten have complained that the e-commerce giant was abusing its dominant position and putting pressure on them to shoulder shipping costs.

A spokeswoman for the business confirmed the raid and said the company was cooperating with the investigation.

The share price dropped by as much as 3 per cent following the news

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