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Rakuten first-quarter profits surge on sales promotions, new tech investments

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten said net income for the first-quarter of fiscal 2017 more than doubled for the three months ending March 31, on the back of a positive customer response to sales promotions and new technologies.

Japan’s largest e-tailer said total quarterly net income reached 25.06 billion yen (US$220.3 million), up from 12.09 billion yen (US$104.7 million) for the same period a year earlier.

The Tokyo-based company said its operating income rose 73.2% to 40.4 billion yen (US$355.3 million), while first-quarter sales jumped 17.6%, for a total of 212.08 billion yen (US$1.86 billion).

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The e-tailer currently offers customers up to seven times the typical rewards points, a bid to poach business from rivals Amazon.com and Yahoo.

According to a press release, Rakuten said it has “cultivated loyal customers and conducted sales activities in order to win new users, as well as initiatives targeting greater customer satisfaction, strengthening services for smart devices and opening up the Rakuten ecosystem,” the company said.

This incentive has increased membership in Rakuten-brand credit cards and the use of revolving balances, boosting the company’s financial business.

“Results are on track for improvement in overseas internet services, due to contributions from the steady growth in U.S. subsidiary Ebates Inc. and other factors,” it added.

SEE ALSO: Rakuten confirms acquisition of Ebates

In February, Rakuten invested $26 million in AirMap, a company working on a global airspace management platform for drones. Meanwhile, in September 2016, the company acquired Fablic, provider of the C2C marketplace app Fril.

In the past year, it has also invested in American bot developer Run Dexter, digital content provider getAbstract AG, cross-border payment platform Currencycloud, and Japanese fintech company Folio – investments, which look to boost revenues further in the coming fiscal year.

The firm said that for the twelve months ended December 31 it is targeting double-digit growth over the previous year.

According to a recent report produced by JapanConsuming, e-commerce will be Japan’s largest single retail channel by 2022. In 2015, Japan generated roughly $80 billion in e-commerce sales. This compares to some $350 billion of e-commerce sales in the U.S. and China’s whopping e-commerce sales result, which exceeded $650 billion in 2015.