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Retailers boosting their ability to take online orders

JIJI

Major retail groups such as Seven & I Holdings Co. plan to beef up their online operations to meet growing demand.

As the nation’s demographics shift and more women enter the workforce, demand for Internet ordering and home delivery is “expanding rapidly,” according to an official at supermarket operator Seiyu GK.

To strengthen the online supermarket business, some retailers are improving their distribution systems.

Seven & I on Sunday will open an outlet dedicated to online supermarket operations in the Nishi-Nippori district in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo.

While the outlet will sell drinks, prepackaged meals and other products, it will be the first Seven & i supermarket to focus on delivering products bought online.

Ito-Yokado Co., a supermarket unit of Seven & I, started online operations in 2001. The business has expanded to the point that the company can’t accept all orders, especially those submitted in the peak late-afternoon period.

Therefore, the Nishi-Nippori outlet will use a system that can deal with up to 2,000 orders per day, five times the volume possible at a Ito-Yokado store.

The Seven & I group hopes to meet potential demand through the new outlet, said Ito-Yokado President Kazuhisa Toi.

Seiyu, a unit of U.S. supermarket giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also plans this year to set up a facility dedicated to deliveries that will complement transportation from each store.

Ryo Kanayama, Seiyu executive officer, said the company will provide ample services in areas it can’t cover at present. One area of improvement may be increasing coverage of southern Tokyo, where it has few stores.