Walmart and Rakuten have inked an agreement which will see the former unveil a delivery service for groceries in Japan. According to the biggest retailer in the world, the service will be launched later this year. This comes at a time when Walmart is pursuing new strategies aimed at growing its global business in the face of challenges following Brazil’s economic woes and intense competition in the United Kingdom.
Walmart’s new service in Japan will replace the existing e-commerce grocery delivery offering that the giant retailer already has. The new service will be known as ‘Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper’. The wholly owned division of Walmart in Japan is called Seiyu GK.
With the new service orders will be placed by customers on the online marketplace platform of Rakuten. The joint venture of Walmart and Rakuten will then fulfil the order. According to the two firms a warehouse will be opened and this will be employed in servicing the orders. Seiyu stores will also be used for this purpose.
In Japan the delivery of fresh food has existed for decades though its growth has not been as fast as that of other e-commerce segments. According to the chief executive officer of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, the joint effort between the two firms was likely to lead to them cooperating in other areas as well.
The overseas operations of Rakuten are mostly in Europe and the United States. Last year in December Rakuten disclosed that it had set a goal of becoming the fourth biggest wireless carrier in Japan. The strategy Walmart is applying in Japan is similar to what the giant retailer did in China after it failed to grow its online retail business by itself. Walmart sold its Chinese e-commerce platform to JD.com and then acquired a 5% interest in China’s second-biggest online retail firm.
Termination of roles
The announcement concerning the joint venture between Walmart and Rakuten comes in the wake of the former disclosing that about 1,000 positions at its headquarters will be eliminated between this year and next year. Initially some of the departments that will be affected include real estate, merchandising, human resources and marketing.
“We’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively. Those efforts continue. We’re committed to handling every transition smoothly and ensuring everyone is treated as fairly and respectfully as possible,” said Walmart in a statement.
So far around 400 to 500 positions have already been eliminated with the affected being given 60 days to identify new roles.