Home > Articles > Shopify vs Rakuten: Everything You Need To Know

Shopify vs Rakuten: Everything You Need To Know

March 18, 2024
Written and researched by experts at Avada. Learn more about our methodology

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need about Shopify and Rakuten. Whether you’re new to e-commerce or a seasoned pro, you’ll find valuable insights about these platforms here.

Key Takeaways

  • Shopify offers a versatile e-commerce platform with a layered approach, catering to businesses of all sizes and enabling customization through third-party apps and services. In contrast, Rakuten primarily operates as a cashback and rewards platform, connecting shoppers with affiliated stores but not offering a direct platform for businesses to sell their products.
  • Integrating Rakuten with your Shopify store presents many opportunities to expand your e-commerce reach and enhance your business.

How Is Rakuten Different From Shopify?

How Is Rakuten Different From Shopify?

Shopify is a comprehensive commerce platform that empowers entrepreneurs to establish, expand, and manage their businesses. It has earned its expertise and leadership in the industry through the experiences of countless merchants on its platform, allowing it to continually innovate and anticipate the evolving needs of the commerce landscape.

On the other hand, Rakuten is primarily a platform where shoppers can earn Cash Back for purchases from over 3,500 participating stores. Founded in 1998, it receives commissions from these stores when users shop through their platform and then shares a portion of those commissions with the shoppers.

Shopify’s key features revolve around its complete commerce solution. It enables merchants to create and customize online stores, sell through various channels (web, mobile, in-person, etc.), manage products, handle payments, and streamline shipping. It’s a cloud-based platform accessible from any compatible device, with integrated SEO, marketing, and payment processing tools. Additionally, it offers APIs and development tools for customization, as well as a vast App Store with third-party apps and services to extend functionality.

Rakuten’s primary feature is its Cash Back program. Users can join for free, shop at affiliated stores through Rakuten’s platform, and receive cash-back rewards based on purchases. The platform periodically disburses these rewards via checks or PayPal payments.

Shopify is a versatile commerce platform that serves as a foundation for businesses of all sizes. It offers a layered approach, starting with its core product, which includes essential tools for setting up an online store. Merchants can then enhance their operations with additional products and services offered exclusively to Shopify customers. Moreover, they can leverage a wide array of third-party apps and the expertise of Shopify Experts to tailor their stores to their specific needs.

Rakuten, on the other hand, primarily functions as a cashback and rewards platform for shoppers. It doesn’t provide a platform for businesses to sell their products or services directly. Instead, it acts as an intermediary between shoppers and affiliated stores, allowing users to earn Cash Back when shopping through their platform.

Selling On Rakuten: Pros and Cons

Selling On Rakuten: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Store customizability potential and aesthetics.
  • Elevated customer experience surpassing Amazon.
  • Alluring loyalty rewards for repeat customers.
  • A vast customer base for increased product visibility.
  • Rakuten has fewer sellers, which can provide more visibility for new entrants.

Cons

  • Inventory management proficiency is required.
  • High initial platform costs: product fees, commission, subscription.
  • Non-automatic approval waiting time.
  • Seller access difficulty on Rakuten without a US or Japanese presence.
  • Only mainly used in markets like Japan, the U.S., Taiwan, Germany, the U.K., Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia. 
  • Sellers targeting global markets may need additional platforms.
  • Product listings on Rakuten can be more manual and time-consuming than on other platforms.

Selling On Shopify: Pros and Cons

Selling On Shopify: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • User-friendliness.
  • Attractive, fully responsive templates.
  • True multi-currency selling capability.
  • Sophisticated abandoned cart saving function at a competitive price.
  • Comprehensive automatic tax calculation tools.
  • Free email marketing tool for up to 10,000 emails per month.
  • Comprehensive point-of-sale options.
  • Effective product category creation and application.
  • Extensible core functionality via a wide range of apps and integrations.
  • Good SEO features, compatible with Yoast.
  • AMP product page versions are available through a third-party app (additional cost).
  • Compatibility with numerous external payment gateways.
  • Generous annual payment discount.

Cons

  • The low number of free themes (12) compared to other platforms.
  • App installation is needed for expected vital functionality.
  • Shopify Payments are limited to 23 countries.
  • Third-party gateway means transaction fees are unavoidable.

What Can You Sell on Rakuten and Shopify?

What Can You Sell on Rakuten and Shopify?

Rakuten is a marketplace app with a broad product spectrum, including categories like Home and Outdoor, Electronics, Pet Supplies, Fashion, Beauty and Personal Care, Sports and Fitness, Health Care, Media, Toys, Toddler and Baby Items, Office Supplies, Automotive and Parts, and Other Essentials. It provides a straightforward way to sell various items, catering to different consumer needs.

Shopify, a versatile e-commerce platform, accommodates various product and service types. You can sell Physical Products, engage in digital sales with Digital Products, market and sell Services, set up subscription-based models, participate in Dropshipping, and create custom merchandise through Print-on-demand. Shopify’s adaptability makes it suitable for diverse businesses and product offerings, making it a preferred choice for many online sellers.

Shopify vs Rakuten: In-Depth Comparison

Pricing

Rakuten

Rakuten’s pricing includes a one-time registration fee of $552, a monthly fixed fee of $460, and a listing capacity of 20,000 products, expandable upon request. Sales incur a system commission ranging from 2.0% to 4.0%, with an additional 0.5% for mobile transactions. A 0.1% system enhancement fee is applied, along with payment processing fees ranging from 2.5% to 3.5%. For Visa credit card sales, there’s an additional 0.4% fee. 

Shopify

Creating an e-commerce store requires creating a Shopify account and enrollment in a Shopify subscription plan, costing $39 to $2000 monthly. Opting for an annual subscription yields a 25% upfront fee reduction. 

Transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments: 

  • Basic plan: 2.0%
  • Standard plan: 1%
  • Advanced plan: 0.5%

Shopify may offer a more cost-effective solution due to its predictable monthly subscription model, which is particularly advantageous for budgeting and planning.

Sales features

Rakuten

Rakuten offers many enticing features to empower online businesses. One standout feature is the Rakuten Merchant Server (RMS), a comprehensive tool that places a wealth of data at your fingertips. From traffic statistics to sales trends and demographic insights, RMS provides a treasure trove of information crucial for making informed decisions. 

Moreover, RMS facilitates testing, enabling you to gain valuable insights and optimize your strategies effortlessly. This centralized hub simplifies essential tasks such as order management, customer engagement, analytics, and listing optimization, ensuring your store operates smoothly and efficiently.

One of the most standout aspects of Rakuten is its built-in loyalty program, Rakuten Points®. This feature sets Rakuten apart from its competitors, resonating strongly with Japanese shoppers. Rakuten has innovatively harnessed the power of this program, creating a compelling incentive for customer loyalty. This drives repeat business and fosters a strong connection between sellers and buyers.

Shopify

With over 100 payment gateways, including popular options like Stripe, PayPal, and Apple Pay, Shopify offers flexibility and convenience in payment processing. If you’re based in 23 supported countries, you should opt for Shopify’s in-house payment gateway – Shopify Payments. 

Shopify takes cost-effectiveness to the next level by offering seamless integration with various external platforms, such as Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook, at no additional expense. This integration extends even further to platforms like Etsy, Pinterest, TikTok, and Google, providing a compelling proposition for businesses looking to minimize initial costs. 

Shopify’s dedication to improving the customer shopping experience is evident through its abandoned cart recovery tool. This tool is seamlessly built into the platform, enabling merchants to send automatic email reminders to customers who left their carts without completing a purchase. This feature recovers potential sales and enhances customer engagement and retention.

Furthermore, Shopify offers various payment options, including cards, cash, contactless payments, mobile wallets, and gift cards. The platform also provides a user-friendly mobile POS app, allowing businesses to conduct transactions on the go. This mobile flexibility enhances the overall shopping experience for customers, making it more convenient and accessible.

Marketing Features

Marketing Features

Rakuten

Rakuten stands out with its promotional tools that enable store owners to attract and retain customers effectively. By default, Rakuten users receive 1% in points back, but the platform offers the unique Rakuten Points program, allowing sellers to offer shoppers as much as 20% points back daily. This flexibility is a valuable tool for enticing customers and driving sales. 

Moreover, Rakuten provides the means to run seasonal sales and major promotions and distribute coupons and temporary points bonuses. These tools empower sellers to craft enticing offers that capture the attention of potential buyers and encourage repeat purchases.

Thanks to R-Mail, its integrated email marketing feature, Rakuten’s customer outreach tools are equally impressive. With R-Mail, sellers can effortlessly send email magazines, promoting sales and new product launches and enticing past customers to return for more purchases. This feature sets Rakuten apart from competitors like Amazon, as it fosters direct and personalized communication with customers, strengthening the seller-buyer relationship.

Shopify

Shopify includes cart abandonment tools that allow businesses to re-engage customers who left items in their carts without completing a purchase. Additionally, Shopify provides up to 10,000 free email marketing sends each month, making it easier for sellers to reach their audience through targeted email campaigns.

One of Shopify’s key strengths is its support for multichannel selling. Integration with platforms like Facebook, Amazon, and Pinterest comes at no extra cost, enabling businesses to tap into new online audiences effortlessly. This feature is precious for expanding the reach of products and attracting a diverse customer base.

Shopify’s commitment to search engine optimization (SEO) is evident through its numerous SEO plugins in the Shopify App Store. A standout among these is the free SEO Booster, which assesses the store for SEO improvements and offers actionable insights. Shopify also simplifies basic SEO tasks by allowing users to easily add descriptions and titles to their content, ensuring that products and pages are well-optimized for search engines.

Ease of use

Getting started with Rakuten is a breeze and won’t cost you a dime. After registering, you can dive into shopping and earning Cash Back. Establishing your account is secure, requiring only your email and a password. Alternatively, you can sign up effortlessly using your Facebook or Google credentials.

Shopify is renowned for its user-friendliness. Despite being a feature-rich platform, it is structured in a way that simplifies the setup process. Setting up your store on Shopify involves four steps: adding your products, customizing your theme, creating a domain, and specifying tax and shipping details. Additionally, Shopify provides a responsive theme editor that allows you to fine-tune your store’s appearance before going live.

Customer support

Rakuten

Rakuten provides customer support through two primary channels: email and phone. For inquiries via email, you can reach out to them at [email protected]. Alternatively, if you prefer direct assistance over the phone. These contact options ensure that customers have accessible and convenient ways to seek assistance and resolve any queries.

Shopify

Shopify seems slightly ahead of Rakuten regarding customer support. Shopify provides 24/7 availability for phone support, live chat, and email support, proving users can access help whenever needed. Furthermore, Shopify’s commitment to accessibility is evident through its support materials in an impressive 21 languages. Users can also learn more with valuable images and video tutorials.

Apps Integration

Apps Integration

Both Rakuten and Shopify offer extensive app integration capabilities, enhancing the functionality and versatility of their respective e-commerce platforms.

Rakuten

Rakuten boasts a dynamic ecosystem of Marketplace Apps and Integrations, with a standout example being Itembase. This integration allows sellers to effortlessly launch eCommerce apps across a vast network of over 500 eCommerce channels, all through a single Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). By doing so, Rakuten eliminates IT bottlenecks and streamlines the process of expanding your online presence. 

Shopify

Shopify App Store is a treasure trove of more than 8,000 apps, offering a comprehensive array of solutions to cater to every facet of managing an online store. These apps cover various functionalities, including accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing, and seamless social media integration. Shopify’s extensive app ecosystem allows sellers to tailor their e-commerce operations to suit their unique needs and goals. 

Rakuten vs Shopify: Who Should Use?

Rakuten and Shopify: Who Should Use?

Rakuten and Shopify serve different needs and audiences, so determining which platform to use depends on your specific business goals and requirements:

Rakuten:

  • Businesses expanding into the Japanese market
  • Businesses with diverse product offerings
  • Larger businesses with an established customer base and brand presence
  • Merchants with higher sales volumes

Shopify:

  • Small to medium-sized businesses and startups looking to establish an online presence quickly and cost-effectively
  • Businesses that want to create a unique online store tailored to their brand
  • Dropshipping, print-on-demand merchants
  • Merchants sell digital products
  • Individuals looking to start an online business, entrepreneurs, and those with limited technical knowledge
  • Brick-and-mortar merchants who want to expand to online selling

Integrating Rakuten with Shopify

Benefits of Integration

Integrating Rakuten with Shopify Benefits

Integrating Rakuten with Shopify can provide a multitude of benefits for online retailers. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Expanded Market Reach: By listing on Rakuten while operating a Shopify store, businesses tap into both a global audience (via Shopify) and a substantial market in Japan, where Rakuten is particularly dominant.
  • Centralized Inventory Management: Integration ensures synchronization of inventory levels across both platforms. This reduces the risk of overselling and streamlines restocking processes.
  • Consistent Branding: Retailers can maintain a consistent brand image across their independent Shopify store and Rakuten marketplace listings, enhancing brand recognition and trust.
  • Simplified Order Management: Orders from Rakuten can be managed directly from the Shopify dashboard, ensuring a unified view of all transactions, reducing administrative overhead, and speeding up order processing.
  • Efficient Marketing: Merchants can cross-promote their Rakuten listings on their Shopify store. They can also use insights from one platform to fine-tune marketing strategies on the other.
  • Streamlined Shipping and Fulfillment: With integration, shipping details, and preferences can be applied consistently, ensuring a smooth fulfillment process regardless of where the sale originated.
  • Enhanced Customer Data Collection: Data from Rakuten sales can be integrated into Shopify’s analytics, giving a more comprehensive view of customer behaviors, preferences, and trends.

Shopify – Rakuten Integration: Step-by-step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you seamlessly set up this integration:

Step 1. Setting up a Rakuten Seller Account:

  • Visit the Rakuten seller registration page and sign up for a seller account.
  • Complete the registration process. You may need to provide business, tax, and bank account information for payments.
  • Wait for Rakuten to review and approve your seller account, which may take some time.

Step 2. Configuring the Shopify-Rakuten Integration:

  • Navigate to the Shopify App Store and search for the Shopify Rakuten Integration app, Magnalister or the specific app that suits your needs.
  • Install the chosen app and follow the setup instructions provided by the app developer.
  • Connect your Rakuten seller account with the app by entering the necessary credentials and permissions.
  • Configure the integration settings, including shipping options, payment methods, and tax settings, to align with your business requirements.
  • Ensure you enable product upload, price synchronization, inventory synchronization, automatic order import, and order status synchronization according to your preferences.

3. Listing Products and Syncing Inventory:

  • Access your Shopify admin panel and navigate to the product section.
  • Select the products you want to list on Rakuten and ensure they are properly configured with accurate titles, descriptions, and images.
  • Use the integration app’s “Product Upload” feature to upload selected products directly to Rakuten. You can choose to upload individual products or entire categories.
  • Customize product details like titles and descriptions for Rakuten if needed.
  • Implement price synchronization to ensure that product prices on Rakuten are automatically updated based on your Shopify prices.
  • Enable inventory synchronization to keep stock levels up-to-date between Shopify and Rakuten. The inventory is adjusted accordingly when an order is placed on either platform.
  • Regularly monitor your product listings and inventory levels to ensure accuracy and prevent overselling.

Bottom Line

Shopify is a versatile e-commerce platform, while Rakuten primarily serves as a cashback and rewards platform. Integrating Rakuten with Shopify offers businesses access to the Asian market, transparent fees, and enhanced marketing support. This strategic move can expand your customer base and increase revenue potential.

FAQs

Shopify is an excellent choice for those starting a new online store because it offers a user-friendly interface, a wide range of customizable templates, and a variety of built-in features for managing your store. Rakuten is more suitable for established businesses and sellers looking to expand into the Japanese market. It may not be the best choice for someone completely new to e-commerce.
Shopify charges monthly subscription fees, transaction fees for third-party payment gateways (unless you use Shopify Payments), and additional costs for premium features and apps. Rakuten typically charges a registration fee and a monthly fee for using their marketplace. There may also be additional fees for various services.
Shopify offers a high degree of customization through its themes and apps. You can design your store to match your brand’s unique style and add functionality through apps. Rakuten provides some customization options, which may be more limited than Shopify. It’s primarily a marketplace so individual store customization may be limited.

Read more:


Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.