Rakuten Puts Amazon On Notice With Webgistix Acquisition

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, Rakuten might have some strong feelings for Amazon Prime.

The Japanese eCommerce giant announced yesterday that they have acquired U.S.-based logistics company Webgistix. Webgistix’ primary business? Allowing merchants to ship “with 1-2 day delivery to 98 percent of the U.S. via ground shipping,” according to its website.

If that sounds a lot like Amazon Prime … that’s because it’s a lot like Amazon Prime.

In fact, as TechCrunch notes, that’s the direct comparison Webgistix CEO Joseph DiSorbo made post-Rakuten announcement.

“U.S. retailers on Rakuten’s platform will reap the benefits similar to Amazon Prime,” DiSorbo said. “The game has not been won on the global marketplace, and Rakuten is empowering merchants in a different way.”

Webgistix operates through a network of order fulfillment centers, freight management and shipment optimization. TechCrunch notes that the terms of its deal with Rakuten not been disclosed, Webgistix took “one round of an undisclosed amount of outside funding,” and that the company is profitable.

Rakuten’s flagship site is Rakuten Ichiba, which serves as the largest eRetailer in Japan. By sales, Rakuten is the largest eCommerce company in the world, selling to 20 countries and generating about $5 billion a year in revenue.

To this point, Rakuten hasn’t posed a serious threat to Amazon in the U.S. market. But with Webgistix, and subsequently a big piece of the logistics puzzle, in tow, a more direct challenge to Amazon may be in the cards.

Read more about Rakuten’s Webgistix deal here.

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