Walmart Went Online in Japan

Rakuten and Walmart join forces to deliver several e-services to the Japanese market

A line of blue shopping supermarket carts stand against the yellow wall

Walmart has long been present in Japan. Although it operates under the brand name Seiyu, the company has been delivering almost the same set of services. The chain operates about 300 stores across the country. In July 2018, Seiyu was in the spotlight when Nikkei announced that Walmart is planning on withdrawal from the Japanese market and selling the chain due to low growth numbers, and considering entry to the Chinese market.

However, not only did the company remained in Japan, it has also increased its presence and introduced new services. In order to deliver them Walmart has tightly cooperated with Rakuten. During the last year this cooperation proved to be very fruitful as consumers in Japan can now enjoy grocery delivery and a wide selection of ebooks among other things.

In this article, we provide a short overview of three services that were introduced by Walmart and Rakuten in 2018.

Walmart Online Store

This February marks a 1-year anniversary of Rukuten and Walmart’s joint e-commerce platform Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store. This online shop offers around 1,200 products from the US to consumers in Japan, including toys, clothes, and outdoor goods. Having many years of experience in service provision and customer care in Japan, Walmart has made its online shopping easy-to-use for the local buyers. Namely, the purchase prices already includes all the associated costs of shipping the product from the US as well as custom duties and taxes. Thus, there is no need to worry about the final price, which quite often becomes an issue in the cross-border ecommerce.

Walmart has launched three new services in Japan in cooperation with Rakuten.

Grocery Delivery

Around the time last year, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Hiroshi Mikitani of Rakuten have also announced the launch of the grocery delivery service called Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper. Pursuing the goal of helping their consumers to live better and save money both companies are addressing a steadily increasing demand for online grocery shopping. The service puts the emphasis on quality, low prices, and provision of the items that could take at least some stress out of busy consumers’ lives. For example, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper offers the ready-made or partially prepared meals, cut vegetables, and so on.

Customers can register with their Rakuten ID and collect Rakuten Super Points while controlling their shopping experience. Moreover, the online platform provides personalized offers to its users thanks to utilizing big data and AI in its operation. In addition, the company has also established a fulfillment center to address and increase the fulfillment capacities, widen the selection, and improve customer experience.

eBook Shop

One more collaboration between two companies is the Walmart eBook by Rakuten Kobo, the online shop giving its customers access to more than 6 million digital items, including audiobooks. The company delivers localized online content in 24 countries out of the total 190 countries where this service is present.

Readers can choose from a wide variety of topics ranging from children’s stories to New York Times best-sellers. To access the library readers can use their desktops or application for Android and iOS devices co-branded by Walmart and Kobo. Moreover, Kobo will sell its own e-Readers at Walmart.

Michael Tamblyn, the CEO of Rakuten Kobo, said that “Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world, and one of the largest booksellers. Our strategy from day one has been to partner with the world’s best retailers, so that they can easily offer their customers the option of reading digitally. […] For us, this is another great opportunity to serve book lovers at Walmart, those people who make reading an important part of their lives.”

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Walmart shows an example of successful growths in the Japanese market due to strategic partnership and many years of expertise. 

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