Rakuten and eBay collaborate to test U.S. demand for used Japanese fashion due to yen’s 34-year low

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22nd May 2024 – (Tokyo) Rakuten Group, the Japanese e-commerce giant, has joined forces with eBay to test the American market’s appetite for used Japanese fashion items, taking advantage of the yen’s near 34-year low. The partnership, which commenced on May 8 with a select group of seven vendors on Rakuten’s second-hand goods platform Rakuma, aims to tap into the currency impact and the growing trend of bargain hunting due to global cost-of-living pressures.

Under the collaboration, eBay lists handpicked Rakuma merchandise on its platform and handles shipping and customer service operations in the United States, receiving commissions on sales in return. The initial trial focuses on pre-owned fashion and accessories, which hold appeal overseas due to Japanese consumers’ reputation for meticulous care of luxury goods.

Kenichiro Hasegawa, General Manager of Rakuma, highlighted the quality of these second-hand items, stating that they are well-preserved due to the use of cases and covers. The label “used in Japan” carries inherent value for customers.

This initiative comes amidst a surge in investments and tourism in Japan, driven in part by the depreciation of the yen, making Japanese products relatively inexpensive. Overseas shoppers, particularly in Tokyo’s electronics hub Akihabara, have flocked to second-hand stores in search of vintage games and toys.

Although Rakuten did not disclose specific sales targets, Hasegawa expressed the intention to expand the partnership to encompass all Rakuma shops and users if the trial proves successful. Globally, used and refurbished goods constitute approximately 40% of eBay’s total merchandise volume. The company reported a more than five-fold increase in global sales of thrifted clothing, shoes, and accessories in March 2024 compared to the previous year.