Japan: increased investment in online grocery

Charles Chan
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 28 September 2020

In response to more consumers staying at home, retailers in Japan are investing more in their online grocery offer.

Convenience stores expanding into delivery

In May 2020, Lawson expanded the scope of stores offering the Uber Eats food delivery service to include some stores in 10 prefectures across Japan. Lawson started offering the delivery service in August 2019, initially within Tokyo. Fierce rival, 7-Eleven, is now also launching home delivery in Tokyo.

7-Eleven's new service is being tested at 39 stores in Tokyo, accepting online orders between 9 am and 10 pm. The retailer plans to expand coverage to at least 1,000 outlets from February 2021. The dedicated platform features 3,000 products available to order. To begin with, the retailer aims to fulfil orders as fast as two hours.

7-Eleven stores will help facilitate fast delivery, with orders prepared for dispatch at outlets located near the delivery location. Customers will need to live within a radius of 500 meters from a 7-Eleven. The retailer will provide each store a smartphone designed for the service to allow staff members to view and confirm orders. Seino drivers will pick up orders from the stores for delivery. Currently, fees range from JPY110 (US$1) to JPY550 (US$5), depending on the time of day, and are waived for orders of JPY3,000 (US$28) and above.

This is not the fast time 7-Eleven has ventured into ecommerce in Japan. It offers omnichannel service that allows customers to order products and pick up from a store. Furthermore, smartphone-enabled online delivery service, Net Convenience Store, was launched a few years ago. It now covers all stores in Hokkaido.

foodpanda launching in Japan

foodpanda will initially roll out its meal delivery services in six Japanese cities, including Kobe, Yokohama and Nagoya. In the same way it has done in other markets, we expect foodpanda to establish partnerships with retailers to deliver consumer goods in the future. foodpanda’s main competitors in Japan will be Demae-Can Co., Uber Eats, FineDine, Maishoku, Rakuten Delivery and Amazon Japan.

Eric Wei, foodpanda Japan’s CEO, said: “We are extremely excited to launch in Japan. This is a market we have long admired, and the expansion is an important step in making food and grocery delivery accessible to everyone in Asia, offering greater choice, speed and convenience to local consumers and business partners.”

Amazon and Life supermarket expand delivery coverage

Since partnering with Amazon in September last year, Life supermarket has expanded delivery to Tokyo’s 23 wards and four cities in the capital, as well as the city of Osaka. Life is reaching new areas, often unprofitable in the past, delivering groceries using vehicles under Amazon’s services. Orders have been fulfilled as fast as two hours, and at a lower cost than in-house delivery service.

Expansion of Click & Collect

In May, Aeon launched an online click and collect drive-through service. Customers can pick up their products anytime during store hours. The service is available for some 70 stores throughout Japan. Furthermore, online shopping services are also available at 180 Aeon stores.

More consumers are considering Click & Collect for grocery. Cookpad is a providing a service that allows users to pick up products they order online from shared refrigerators set up at railway stations, drugstores and other locations. The service is available at around 150 locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

In March, 7&i set up refrigerated delivery lockers at two 7-Eleven outlets in Tokyo. Customers purchasing goods on Ito-Yokado’s online store can have them sent to the 7-Eleven lockers to pick up at their convenience.