For years, online supermarkets struggled to find their demographic in Japan, and with a supermarket virtually on every corner in cities across the country, few held high expectations for industry-disrupting growth. However, as pandemic trends fuel a shift towards online shopping in markets around the world, the tide is turning — and online grocery shopping in Japan is riding the waves to success.
Online grocery shopping is not new to Japan. Other innovative tech leaders have tried it. Prominent Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu and Rakuten blazed a new trail back in October 2018 with the launch of Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.
At the time, Rakuten’s e-commerce expertise and expanding customer base — 100 million strong members in Japan — combined with Seiyu’s excellence in supermarket operations provided a match poised to deliver new levels of convenience to grocery shoppers. The online grocery delivery service brought a new blend of offline and online shopping. It also allowed customers to log in with their Rakuten ID, laying the groundwork for disruption in the supermarket industry in Japan. Nearly four years on, Netsuper continues to show strong growth, with its user base up more than 40 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021.
Building on this success, Rakuten is now opening up the platform to allow grocery chains nationwide to take their offerings online with the launch of Rakuten Zenkoku Super.
No more trips to the grocery store?
Rakuten Zenkoku Super represents the next step in that disruption. The new service is designed to power supermarkets around the country to reach new demographics by providing them with a comprehensive online grocery shopping platform that delivers goods directly to consumers.
By leveraging the expertise gained through operating Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, Rakuten is uniquely positioned to support established supermarkets in their transition toward being equipped for online purchases and delivery. For retailers who sign up to adopt the platform, Rakuten acts as something of a one-stop shop, providing guidance and support on everything from online customer acquisition to marketing support, and even logistics.
The process for shoppers is simple and convenient, especially for those who already have a Rakuten ID. Logging in with Rakuten credentials streamlines the shopping process, as the user’s address and credit card details are stored for future purchases. That’s one less step between customers and fresh, delicious groceries straight from the supermarket.
Of course, a platform like Rakuten Zenkoku Super is only as powerful as the supermarkets that provide the goods available for purchase. Fortunately, in addition to Seiyu, another industry leader has also signed on. Based in Gunma Prefecture, Beisia operates more than 130 locations in Tokyo as well as 14 other prefectures, from Saga to Fukushima.
As Rakuten celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks back on its beginnings supporting local merchants and small businesses to reach consumers around the country at the dawn of the online shopping era, it’s not too hard to trace a direct path to this latest online shopping initiative.