Walmart and Rakuten Open First Ecommerce Store in Japan
The global partnership between two retail giants took another massive step forward this week. Walmart and Japan-based Rakuten announced the opening of their first ecommerce store in Japan, which will be known as the “Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store.” According to Walmart’s press release, the store will feature around 1,200 products from U.S. brands, including toys, clothing, and outdoor goods. Walmart will handle order fulfillment while Rakuten will take care of local deliveries.
Walmart said that orders will be air freighted directly to Japanese customers with a “no surprises policy” that includes shipping, duties, and taxes all in the product price.
“Walmart is committed to providing a trusted retail experience in Japan and we are always looking for new ways to better serve consumers here as their lifestyles and needs change,” Senior Vice President of Walmart International Nathan Kring said in the statement. “Through Seiyu, we have an in-depth understanding of this fast-changing market. The carefully curated assortment being offered on our flagship store reflects this insight and our ongoing dedication to Japanese shoppers.”
Walmart and Rakuten first announced their partnership back in January when they teamed up to offer grocery delivery in Japan—which officially went online in October—and Rakuten’s Kobo e-books and audiobooks here in the U.S.
This method of leveraging massive retail partnerships in Asia is nothing new for Walmart—the company partnered up with JD.com in China to both save and expand its presence in that country back in 2016. Additionally, the company purchased India’s Flipkart for $16 billion earlier this year.
It’s just another example of the super big box retailer finding ways to mold its strategy and business offerings around the globe in its continued arms race with Amazon. The two retail giants continue to go after one another in a punch-counter-punch sort of way, though they’re each approaching their retail expansion in different—yet obvious ways. Amazon, as the largest ecommerce retailer in the U.S., has worked to expand its physical footprint over the past year or so, while Walmart—already a successful brick-and-mortar retailer—has had to up its ecommerce game, especially on an international scale in order to compete more directly with Amazon.