A Japanese e-commerce guru tells how to succeed in online business by breaking all the rules.
Now 49, Harvard-educated Mikitani founded Tokyo-based Rakuten in 1997 and turned it into the world’s third-largest e-commerce company, which includes Kobo and Buy.com. In Japan, his online shopping mall offers some 95 million products from 40,000 merchants. In this upbeat debut, he describes his maverick business philosophy, aimed at challenging conventional wisdom and empowering sellers to create lasting relationships with customers. In 2010, recognizing that the world was “moving toward a more borderless economic experience,” Mikitani required that employees worldwide speak English, the international language of business. Dismissed as wrongheaded by many observers, this corporate “Englishnization” has eliminated the need for translators and sped up internal communication. “Interactions between employees in different countries that used to take two or three days could now take two or three minutes,” he writes. Often contrasting his own approach with that of his chief competitor, Amazon.com, Mikitani stresses that the Internet is not simply a vending machine, but a valuable tool for collaboration that allows merchants and customers to communicate directly in a continuous loop. Offering tips on how other companies can apply his approach, he discusses the importance of empowerment and goal setting, the benefits of a global mindset, how to make online shopping an entertaining experience and why the human touch is vital to business success.
Nothing groundbreaking, but a useful guide to “the Rakuten way.”