Walmart, Japanese e-commerce firm Ratuken make joint bid for online grocery market

A strategic alliance between Walmart and Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce platform that is often referred to as, “the Amazon.com of Japan,” portends an epic battle of colossal e-commerce monsters across downtown Tokyo, as the Walmart- Rakuten alliance challenges Amazon.com, in a real-life faceoff of the behemoths.

While the deal certainly sets the scene for an epic showdown over Japan’s 82.6 million e-commerce customers, it’s most likely to deliver increased options for shoppers. The collaboration includes the launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan, beginning in the third quarter of 2018, and Rakuten Kobo eReaders being offered for sale in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com in the United States.

Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a Japanese subsidiary of Walmart, will collaboratively launch an online grocery delivery service in Japan, to be known as “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” The first deliveries are expected to go out, “in the latter half of 2018.”

Japanese consumers spent $19.8 billion on food deliveries in FY2016, according to the Yano Research Institute, however only 6.6 percent of that value was generated by online supermarkets, suggesting room for growth. The institute also said that the food delivery service market in FY2016 grew by 103.3 percent, year-over-year.

Seiyu GK already offers a grocery delivery service, and its existing infrastructure will be rolled into the new service, meaning that Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper won’t have to start from scratch.

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