Amazon planning to set up virtual mall in Japan

The Japanese unit of is considering launching a virtual shopping mall, in a bid to snatch a share of the growing market from Web mall operators Rakuten and Yahoo Japan, a Reuters report said.

The report, quoting the Yomiuri daily, said Amazon Japan, which currently sold goods directly to consumers via its Web site, planned to start a virtual mall later this year to allow retailers to sell products such as clothes and food on its site.

The report further said Japan's $4-billion virtual mall market was expected to grow by 47% in the next two years, according to Fuji Keizai Management.

Web-based shopping malls generated nearly 40% of total sales done on the Internet or on mobile phones in Japan, the report said.

The report said an entry into the market by Amazon Japan, which boasted over 6 million users a year, could likely spur a shift in sites consumers used to shop online.

Rakuten currently held a 43% share of Japan's virtual mall market, followed by Yahoo Japan with 17%, the report said.

The virtual mall now accounted for about 30% of the products sold on's Web site, a spokeswoman at the Japan unit, quoted by Reuters, said.

The spokeswoman, however, gave no details on the virtual mall plan, including launch timing, the report further said.