The April issue of Internet Retailer, an industry trade title that covers the growing e-commerce market, profiled Japanese retailer Rakuten and its CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani. In North America, Rakuten has been active in acquiring Buy.com and eBook retailer Kobo.
Although the revenue figures provided in the article seem somewhat inconsistent, Rakuten is generally seen as Japan's largest e-commerce firm. Amazon has built a strong presence there, but it still trails Rakuten in Japan. Worldwide, Amazon is the undisputed e-commerce leader.
Both in its home market and elsewhere, Rakuten competes with a cooperative model that supports other retailers that use its platform. This approach parallels an aspect of the early Kobo model, in which the eBook retailer struck up local partnerships with book retailers to provide support and speed market entry.
Mikitani is scheduled to deliver a keynote at an Internet Retailer event, the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. The meeting takes place in Chicago from June 4 – 7. That's the week after BookExpo America, but it might be worth a trip to hear first-hand how an Amazon competitor looks at its business.