Rakuten and Walmart combine powers for new Japan grocery delivery service

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Walmart subsidiary Seiyu GK and Rakuten's joint venture online grocery delivery service will be launched in Q3 2018. ©GettyImages
Walmart subsidiary Seiyu GK and Rakuten's joint venture online grocery delivery service will be launched in Q3 2018. ©GettyImages

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Japan e-commerce giant Rakuten and retailer Seiyu GK, a Walmart subsidiary, have agreed on a joint venture to launch a new online grocery delivery service — Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.

The operation will be launched in Japan in the third quarter of 2018. Seiyu operates retail chain stores across Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu, selling fresh food, groceries and apparel, while Rakuten is Japan’s largest e-commerce site.

The new online grocery delivery service will aim to increase fulfilment capacity, improve product ranges and enhance convenience for customers.

“As global leaders in e-commerce and offline shopping, Rakuten and Walmart are uniquely positioned to empower our customers around the world with innovative services,” ​said Rakuten chairman, president and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

A dedicated fulfilment centre will be set up to support operations, and Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper will also offer deliveries direct from Seiyu stores.

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,”​ said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

“Here in Japan and everywhere we operate, we’re constantly exploring new ways to make every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile — no matter how customers want to shop.”

Quality at low prices

According to Walmart, the new online grocery delivery service’s merchandise offering will maintain Seiyu’s promise of quality at low prices.

It will include not only include fresh produce and daily consumables but also convenience items such as cut vegetables, partially-prepared foods and ready-meal kits, as well as popular local gourmet products from merchants on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace.

Walmart said it will further utilise Rakuten’s expertise in e-commerce to offer a website with an optimised user experience, as well as leveraging big data and AI to offer a more personalised merchandise offering.

Rewards and collaboration

Additionally, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper users will earn Rakuten Super Points and be able to use them on more than 70 services within the Rakuten ecosystem.

Walmart has also formed an exclusive retail alliance with Rakuten Kobo Inc. to sell eBooks and audiobooks, and to offer Rakuten Kobo eReaders, in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com in the US, starting later this year.

“At Walmart, we want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop, and no matter what they want to shop for, which includes adding new categories, products and brands,”​ said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, US e-commerce, Walmart.

“Stay tuned, there is more to come.”

This partnership follows similar link-ups between e-commerce outfits and food retailers.

Amazon.com Inc. bought Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion last year and is launching its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service, while China’s Alibaba and US grocer Kroger Co. have held discussions on a collaboration.

Amazon Fresh is already in Singapore, has already trialled its service in parts of Tokyo and is planning to enter Australia.

Last week we also reported how Tencent was joining forces with Carrefour​ in China, following similar moves into bricks-and-mortar food retail by Alibaba and JD.com.

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