TOKYO — Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten said Thursday that its net profit for the first half of the year grew at a double-digit pace, bolstered by strong sales through its Rakuten Ichiba online shopping site in Japan, as well as Ebates and Rakuten Travel.
Rakuten said net profit for the six months ended June 30 grew 20.3 percent to 27.77 billion yen, or $230.51 million at average exchange rates for the period.
The company’s six-month operating profit increased by 23.5 percent year-over-year to 55.29 billion yen, or $458.9 million.
Rakuten reported first-half sales growth of 20 percent for a total of 332.01 billion yen, or $2.76 billion.
Sales of Rakuten Ichiba and Rakuten Travel grew 7.1 percent in the second quarter to 47.4 billion yen, or $393.42 million. A video played at a press conference Thursday described how Rakuten is working to open up its domestic Internet sales by engaging with more global brands, expanding offline initiatives and enabling non-Rakuten merchants to use its payment system.
Rakuten’s Super Point program is one of its biggest draws for customers, as they can use the points they earn to get discounted or free merchandise in the future. In addition to earning points through purchases at Rakuten’s Web sites, customers can also now earn points while shopping off-line, through mobile applications, and other activities.
From Aug. 1 through 5, Rakuten held its first off-line event, called Rakuten Festival. Free and open to the public, it allowed customers to see, taste and try products from more than 300 merchants. The company declined to provide the exact number of visitors to the event, but said it was twice its initial expectations.
In other omnichannel news, Rakuten recently teamed up with Japanese courier company Yamato Holdings to offer customers the option of pick up their purchases from more than 20,000 convenience stores and 4,000 Yamato Transport sales offices across the country.
Yoshihisa Yamada, Rakuten’s executive vice president, representative director and chief financial officer, said sales through Ebates grew 48.8 percent on the year in the second quarter, totaling $1.01 billion.
“At this pace, I think [Ebates] might reach $5 billion [in revenue] this year,” Yamada said.
Cross-border trading through Rakuten Ichiba is also growing rapidly, increasing 55 percent in the second quarter. Sales to Hong Kong grew 84.3 percent, sales to the U.S. grew 80.5 percent, and sales to China were up 66.8 percent.
Rakuten did not release detailed forecasts for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, but said it expects revenue to reach 598.57 billion yen, or $4.88 billion.