Rakuten UK
Type of site
Available inEnglish
RegistrationRequired for purchases
Launched1998 (1998) (as Play.com)
Current statusOnline

Rakuten.co.uk is a website owned by Rakuten, that operated as an online marketplace until August 2016.

The website replaced Play.com, which was originally established in Jersey as an online retailer of entertainment products. Rakuten had purchased Play.com in 2011,[1] and in 2013 the company switched to a new third-party marketplace format following a change in the law covering VAT for companies operating in Jersey and selling to consumers on the UK mainland.[2]

The Play.com website was replaced by Rakuten.co.uk on 23 March 2015.

Rakuten.co.uk was relaunched in October 2016 as a portal to earn loyalty "Superpoints" from UK online shops such as Topman, HMV and B&Q.



Former Play.com logo following its purchase by Rakuten

The business was founded in 1998 under the name Play247.com, but rebranded as Play.com in 2000. Play.com originally sold region 1 and 2 DVDs only, but since expanded its range to include CDs and video games and other electronic items. In 2004 it began to sell books and electronics, in 2006 it started selling personal computers, posters and T-shirts and in 2007 it started selling HD DVDs and Blu-rays, with sister site PlayUSA.com selling region 1 DVDs, HD DVDs and region A Blu-ray Discs and offering sales in a range of currencies. The site's interface was redesigned on a number of occasions.

Play.com was ranked second on the November 2006 UK "Hot Shops List" compiled by IMRG and Hitwise.[3]

In 2008, Play.com started selling DRM-free MP3s, clothing, accessories, and tickets for events, allowing customers to buy and sell tickets. They also held a consumer games show which was open to the public, with tickets available through Play.com. This event was backed by Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Activision, and THQ among others.[4]

On 15 January 2009, a survey published by Verdict Research found Play.com was the UK's second favourite music and video retailer, behind first place Amazon.co.uk and ahead of the now defunct entertainment retailer Zavvi which was third.[5] On 24 February 2009, it was reported that Play.com had topped the National Consumer Satisfaction Index,[6][7] ahead of Amazon.co.uk and iTunes.

In May 2009, Play.com launched a branded Visa credit card in partnership with MBNA. Cardholders received points for purchases made on the website and at other retailers. Points could then be redeemed against products bought on the Play.com website.[8][9]

The PlayUSA.com website was closed down in February 2011. In September 2011, Japan-based Rakuten purchased Play.com for £25 million.[10]

From March 2013, Play.com operated solely as an online marketplace, where third party retailers sold products with their listings hosted on the website.


  1. ^ Wood, Zoe (22 September 2011). "Play.com sold to Rakuten of Japan for £25m". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Jersey retailer Play.com closes direct retail business". BBC News. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. ^ "November Hitwise - IMRG Hot Shops List" Archived 21 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine - hitwise.com; retrieved 12 May 2007
  4. ^ Ian Ennis (31 January 2008). "Play.com Live: First Major UK Gaming Event". Ripten.com. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Amazon is UK's third favourite retailer". theBookseller.com. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  6. ^ "U.K. Consumers Most Satisfied With Play.com". Billboard.biz. 24 February 2009. Archived from the original on 25 August 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Ncsi-Uk". Ncsi-Uk. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Credit Card". Play.com. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Play.com offers credit card". Pocket-lint.com. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Play.com bought by Japanese firm Rakuten for £25m - Media News". Digital Spy. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.