Ecommerce giant Rakuten extends point service to more than 13,000 brick-and-mortar stores

Japanese ecommerce behemoth Rakuten (TYO:4755) is embracing the recent online-to-offline (O2O) trend by allowing members of its Super Point loyalty program to spend accumulated points at physical retail locations.
Ecommerce giant Rakuten extends point service to more than 13,000 brick-and-mortar stores
The new R-Point Card service adds 13,300 brick-and-mortar shops across Japan – from 12 affiliated companies – to the 42,000 stores already in the Rakuten Ichiba online shopping mall that accept Super Points. Newly supported retailers include convenience stores, restaurants, beauty salons, gas stations, and premium department stores.
In addition to being able to spend points at these new locations, Super Points can also be earned when using the R-Point Card, Rakuten credit card, Edy contactless smart card, or Rakuten Check app. A new card that combines the R-Point Card with Edy is also being offered, and a separate R-Point Card app for iOS and Android is currently pending approval in the respective app stores.
Additionally, Rakuten is planning to offer the R-Point Card service to individual retailers using point-of-sale terminals starting in spring 2015. Members who display the R-Point Card when making purchases at supported retailers will earn one point for every 100 yen (US$0.90) they spend.
Each point, in turn, is worth one yen (approximately US$0.01). We’ve reached out to Rakuten to ask if the new point service will affect its recent acquisition of a minority stake in low cost airline AirAsia and will update this post if they reply. It remains to be seen how the new point system will compete with entrenched loyalty programs offered by major credit card companies, airlines, and smart card providers like Suica and PASMO (which are already linked to millions of commuter passes).


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