You’re Not Going To Believe This One: To Change Its Name to



On Jan. 31 is changing its name to

No its not April’s fools day.

In May 2010 a Japanese company Rakuten bought for $250 million.  Now that company is going to rebrand as Shopping.

If you go to today you will see the name “Rakuten” right above

The URL will remain, but consumers who go to the site will be redirected to starting Jan. 31.

The company’s vast holdings have since expanded to include e-commerce subsidiaries in Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S.

Several of those carry the name, including those in Brazil, Austria and Germany and more are likely to be rebranded.

Although Rakuten is not a household name in the United States, the company is a significant player in the online global marketplace.

Its Japanese site, Rakuten Ichiba, racked up more than $34 billion in gross purchases in 2011, the most recent year for which figures were available.

“In the long term, Rakuten is going global,” said Roger Andelin, president and chief technology officer of “We want to be known for global shopping – a place where shoppers can connect with merchants all over the world. That is where this is heading.”

“We’re very confident that marketplace model of Rakuten in Japan that is now being taken worldwide is a fabulous shopping model,” Andelin said.


Source of story


  1. says

    This one is absolutely off the charts! DUMB beyond DUMB!
    I already forgot it and can’t spell it.

    So let me predict that their sales will go down the moment they change their name and they will rebrand again.

  2. jose says

    the guys in charge of Rakuten’s Marketing are making the dumbest mistake in their lifes. next they will let the domain expire.

  3. says

    Interesting move. It is going from the Generic to the Brand. It really depends on where the bulk of customers are based but it really needs to be handled carefully. A global play with one single global brand (including ccTLDs) might work. The -> might be a lesson these guys should study.

  4. says

    I will agree that it might be the dumbest move in their history, it also shows how much pride they have in their national brand. For those who have tried to sell a .com domain to the owner of the .de equivalent, and eventually failing to make a sale know what I am talking about here. I have tried to sell “domain upgrades” in .com where the owners hold ccTLDs from a dozen or so countries. Some fell through as they have more appreciation to their countries, even when it comes to domain names.

  5. thallewell says

    Good Lord! I can’t handle this domainer mentality anymore!

    What is wrong with this rebranding? When is the last time any of you purchased anything from I didn’t even know what they sold until I visited the site. Apart from being easy to remember how is having as the domain helping them at all?

    Take a moment and try to understand the value of a BRAND…

    A brand takes a meaning, an emotion, and gives it life in the mind of the consumer. A generic word can’t convey the EMOTION that a brand does and EMOTION is what sells.

    Mike, your own blog is It is a BRAND, and a good one at that. You have made it something special as a result of your hard work and dedication and now anyone that knows domains knows that is a GREAT blog. If you were to change over to you would be a deluded fool.

    When you try to brand based on a known word (like Buy) you run into trouble because most people already have some sort of relationship with that term and that relationship might not be what you want it to be. Creating a brand, while costly, allows a company to create that relationship with the consumer, it gives them a blank slate on the minds of the users. This is why we drink Coca-Cola, not “Sugar Water”. This is why we wear Calvin Klein, not “Clothing for Duchbags”, this is why we buy Macs not “hipster computers”, this is why we use “Google” not “”.

    When will we realize there is SO MUCH MORE to a business than it’s domain name?

    This rebrand is likely a good thing. Rakuten has a huge brand. Big enough to pay 250 million dollars for a company. This brand will now influence customers, they will hopefully start having emotional responses to the Rakuten brand just like earlier customers have.

    God Damn it, I feel like I’m part of a f*****g when I read comments like these. The cult of “Generic Domains are what make life worth living and don’t try to tell me otherwise or use logic to influence me”. I grew up in a mild cult, I know what the “group think” is like and this comment thread has NAILED IT! A bunch of people patting themselves on the back as they agree with each others bullshit.

    There are at least 500 major commonly used words in the English language, each of these words has a corresponding .com domain name (,, How many of the companies that own these domains, and have BRANDED the company name around the domain, are THE most successful companies in their industry…

    Is this an accident.

    Maybe we should ALL go back to school?


  6. says

    @Troy is so right.

    Quiz: How many of the Forbes global 2000 leading companies run their business off a generic domain?

    I guess Rakuten will continue holding to bring in those consumers who go for the generic term and mould to their brand.

  7. says

    All I can say is: EW! And the new logo is ugly and makes the site look like They can feel free to transfer to me since they no longer need it. 😀

  8. John Berryhill says

    I wonder if this means they will finally quit sending out ridiculous cease and desist letters to anyone with “buy” in their domain name.

    Thallewell, your points are well-taken. Some catch on, and some don’t. Fanciful terms are indeed the strongest trademarks because they are pure secondary meaning, with no other associations.

    I do take exception to one minor nit, however:

    “This is why we drink Coca-Cola”

    Coca-Cola is a cola drink with a coca extract in it. Although the original formula included full coca extract, the current formula still uses certain coca derivatives as flavor enhancers. It is, literally, a “coca” “cola” drink. The “Coca-Cola” mark was attacked many times in legal and administrative proceedings in the early part of the 20th century for allegedly being merely descriptive.

  9. says

    Hi MHB,

    Well I guess they got the Right of the Dot right in choosing .COM for a Global footprint, but the left of the dot choice reflects in my opinion the power that their current Ad company that they are working with has in influencing their Marketing Strategy when it comes to the name of their online company. You all should not be surprised this happens over and over again.

    Companies want online names that are stand alone names that are suitable to Ad campaigns. They are usually not interested in naming their online company generically. Most companies are taught to rely on Advertising companies. This is the way of B-School training and this habit will be hard to break for most companies.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  10. thallewell says


    Thanks for reminding me of the Coca Cola story. I knew that but unfortunately my brain forgot to remind me when I was typing. It’s interesting, Coca Cola is a brand that started out descriptive and generic (a coca cola) then, due to billions in marketing and lots of time, became unique as we began to look at is as a brand, not a description…

    It sort of makes my point even better though, at least as far as pointing out the true value of a brand.


  11. says

    Only handful of us is able to see outside own domainers arse. This global rebrand is obviously good decision ($34B company does not give a foock about some $250M they paid for some dying unbrandable brand)

  12. says

    Are we finally seeing a real push against the generics?

    About f$2cking time, but probably not.

    Are we finally seeing the reality that the internet is not all English as a first language?

    About f$2cking time, but probably not. was a private business and it’s now part of a publicly listed business so the rebranding makes sense. People are quite comfortable buying Babolat or Mitsubishi or Hyundai… most rich people shop at Nieman Marcus, or is that Neiman Marcus, or Neimann Marcus? So the name doesn’t matter as long as it’s uniform and the products are valued.

    What I don’t get is that for all the domainers shouting about the value of the generic being TRAFFIC and naming a conference T.R.A.F.F.I.C. what difference does the companies brand make? The traffic is the value, isn’t it? Or is that the lie? still goes to their site.

    Is the value of the domain the domain, the brand, or the traffic? I wish the well respected and successful domainers would make up your freaking mind what the value really is in a domain.

    Bottom line: “.com” on a company name is so 1990s and, frankly, lame. It’s like calling yourself Cyber”something”. Shit, kids don’t even call it the web anymore.

  13. says


    so you’re saying branding experts think using another name besides your world wide brand name is a good idea??

    you people have been brain washed by the domain king because you want it to be true, and to a degree it is true of course, but sober up people, the domain king has very little business experience and cannot actually tell you what the value of generics are besides type ins and his latest mini me is just repeating the same old spin of yester year

    just look at the kings post. not unlike when he predicted amazon would go broke, that’s right, he spewed this for years because they didnt have a generic domain name lol

    This one is absolutely off the charts! DUMB beyond DUMB!
    I already forgot it and can’t spell it.

    So let me predict that their sales will go down the moment they change their name and they will rebrand again.

  14. Grim says

    Is there a retailer using a generic word as a brand that is as successful as Amazon, or other online stores like NewEgg, Frys, etc? Since I’ve bought 90% of stuff online at Amazon since 1997, I haven’t gone out of my way to become familiar with any.

    In any event, this is likely a good move, since developed brands always have more pull than generic words or phrases. (Consider brands and their generic counterparts like Kleenex vs. Facial Tisues, Xerox vs. Copiers, Q-tips vs. cotton swabs, etc.) When grocery stores introduced’ generic foods’ to their shelves during the ’80s, the generics were always perceived as being of lower quality compared to the brands, even if the exact same thing was in the generic package.

    While developing a brand takes more time and is significantly more difficult than simply slapping a generic word on a product or service, once developed and marketed, the brand holds a more powerful position in a consumer’s mind, because the brand presents an image of much more than what is simply in the ‘box.’ Rakuten may be unfamiliar to many people now, but if it’s marketed properly, it shouldn’t be any surprise if it becomes as well known as any other common brand that we’re familiar with.

  15. elbandito says

    what you are failing to understand is the real reason they changed their name. In Japan, Rakuten is a household name and the pompous CEO 0f the company just wants his global competitors and the real threat to his Japanese empire, Amazon and eBay to see him whipping out his little carrot in front of them domestically.
    He bought into a company that was profitable just over two years ago. He brought in his own management team who immediately put the company in the red and are cluelessly watching the death spiral every day and wondering why people in the US dont shop the same way they do in Japan.
    It really doesn’t matter what name they use, they are doomed for failure because of their business philosophy. In Japan merchants would trade their child to sell on the Ichiba Marketplace. In the US, most merchants have their own sites and want their own customers that they dont have to pay a commission for. In the world of razor thin margins, Rakuten will never have competitive pricing as long as merchants have to offset commissions by charging more for the product.
    The only two reasons merchants sell on Rakuten are for incremental sales and customer acquisition. Unlike Amazon these dummies actually give merchants the email addresses of customers who buy their products and the merchants add every single one of them to their own direct email lists. If I’m a Rakuten Merchant (hint hint) every sale is a potential customer I can poach away from them and get to shop with me in the future…. Duh

  16. says seems like a far better name than, which sounds like a foreign last name, and which I have no idea how to pronounce. They were lucky to have the name “,” and not they are squandering it. Also, there used to be great phone support at that site, but it seems that is no more.

  17. says

    I know this is old news but this is still one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of in my lifetime. Unless they are the stupidest people on earth they will still hang on to the domain and redirect it to “” or whatever. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  18. Jeffrey Levy says

    When they were still, everyone in America that shopped online knew about them. Now, if you mention the name to any American they will respond “I have never heard of them”. They could have been a big player in the USA. Nobody will type R A K U T E N into a browser. But BUY.COM was a no brianer and a winner.

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