Supermarket operators in Japan are boosting moves to win the loyalty of online customers by offering diversified services, in response to demand from people staying at home.
With people unsure about when the novel coronavirus pandemic will end, supermarkets have improved the efficiency of their “last mile” processes — linking products and consumers — by starting to offer a variety of services, ranging from a drive-through system to use of shared refrigerators.
Life Corp. is hoping to develop its food delivery service, which the grocery store operator started with e-commerce giant Amazon Japan G.K. in September last year.
Moving up its initial schedule, Life expanded its service area to Tokyo’s 23 wards and four cities in the capital, as well as the city of Osaka, by the end of July this year.
By transporting groceries with vehicles used to deliver items people ordered under Amazon’s services, Life is able to reach previously unprofitable areas.
The company has managed to offer customers a service in which products are delivered in as little as two hours, at lower cost than an in-house delivery service.
In May, Aeon Co. started a full-scale service in which customers are able to receive items that they order online via a drive-through system.
The company said that many customers have highly praised the service’s convenience, as they are able to pick up the products whenever they can, as long as it is during store hours. The service was available for some 70 stores throughout Japan as of the end of July.
Online shopping services are also offered at 180 Aeon stores, or around half of all such stores across the country.
In a service provided by Cookpad Inc., which operates a recipe-sharing website, people are able to pick up products they order online from shared refrigerators set up at railway stations, drugstores and other locations. The company is able to deliver products ordered by up to 50 people at once.
The Cookpad Mart service is popular for fresh food products, according to Cookpad. The company had made the service available at around 150 locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture by the end of July.
As the service allows people to drop by the refrigerators when they have time, an official at Cookpad said, “We have been receiving a growing number of requests that we set up (refrigerators) in the common-use areas of condominiums.”