Is Walmart In Japan In 2022? (Yes, But Not What You Think)
Japan is home to the third-richest country in the world. It’s no surprise that American companies would seek out Japan for business opportunities.
However, this can be difficult especially for Western companies that may lack knowledge of the specific culture in Japan or their shoppers.
If ever you visited the Land of the Rising Sun, or are just curious, you might have wondered: Is Walmart in Japan? Although the answer to your question is “Yes”, it may not be what you think.
Is Walmart In Japan In 2022?
Walmart’s Japan footprint is marked both by its retaining shares in Sieyu the Japanese supermarket chain as well as the partnership with Rakuten the country’s biggest eCommerce company. Sieyu had been a Walmart subsidiary until recently. But, in November 2020, Walmart announced it was going to sell 85 percent.
Japan has How Many Walmarts
Walmart Japan has no actual stores by its own brand. Walmart Japan is the owner and operator of Japanese Seiyu grocery chains.
According to Bridget Goldschmidt of ProgressiveGrocer.com, there are about 300 Seiyu locations all throughout Japan.
Some of these are located in Tokyo’s vicinity, including a number near Nagano or Kyoto.
Seiyu: What is it?
Seiyu is the name of the Japanese grocery chain that Walmart took full ownership of in 2008.
Founded in 1963, the chain had long been a trusted presence in Japan. Walmart acquired a 37% stake in the company and began their acquisition of it in 2002.
Walmart was finally able to buy the majority share three years later.
And three years after that, a mere six years after its initial investment, Walmart became the sole owner, absorbing Seiyu into its family of holdings.
Seiyu Supermarkets are similar to Walmart Neighborhood Markets and Seiyu hypermarkets are comparable to Walmart Supercenters.
And then there is one Seiyu General Merchandise store, which doesn’t sell any food, located in Tokyo.
Christian Monson published a piece about Japan’s shopping and highlighted some similarities and differences in Walmart and Seiyu.
For starters, Monson thinks the Seiyu Supermarkets are almost totally comparable to Walmart Neighborhood Markets.
Seiyu supermarkets can feel almost like Western supermarkets according to Mr.
Monson thinks that hypermarkets are the most different.
Seiyu hypermarkets can be found in basements of big buildings, in bustling cities like Tokyo.
That might be part of the reason why Walmart was so interested in acquiring Seiyu – Supercenters are not known for their accessibility in large cities.
Monson says that Seiyu’s products can have culturally-appropriate variations. For example, certain stores may sell kimonos suitable for all members of the family.
How did Walmart deal with Japan’s challenges?
Some people may ask blunter questions: What caused Walmart to fail in Japan?
Walmart had spent years slogging through Japan’s retail market without much success and announced their intention to give up 85 percent.
That same market has sent other retailers running , tails tucked: the French Carrefour and Alliance Boots from the UK.
Why is it so difficult to get by in Japan?
While this attitude may be somewhat unbending in some ways, it wasn’t fast enough to impact Seiyu’s underperforming sales.
The supply chain changed, and a beloved item disappeared from stores. Customers, who had been comfortable with it, decided to not buy Seiyu.
The same article also stated that Walmart’s higher-ups were more focused on managers than employees.
Walmart’s emphasis upon frozen foods was confusing for Japanese shoppers who used fresh produce and meats.
Is Rakuten Part Of Walmart?
Rakuten, a former joint stakeholder of Walmart and its business partner, is still a part of the company.
Rakuten purchased a 20% stake in Seiyu. Walmart will keep a 15% share.
Walmart and Rakuten teamed up in 2018 to launch an online shop called the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Shop.
The concept was an eCommerce platform, selling American goods, where Walmart fulfills the orders.
Additionally, Rakuten and Walmart teamed up to offer online grocery delivery and e-readers/ebooks/audiobooks, a la Amazon.
Rakuten, while not being part of Walmart’s portfolio, is closely linked to the company in many ways.
If you are looking to learn more about Walmart, you might also be interested in reading up on if Walmart is in India or Delhi, if Walmart is in New Zealand, and if Walmart is in the UK or London.
Walmart has been present in Japan ever since the beginning of 2000. But it is clear that things have not always gone as planned.
Walmart’s problems were caused by deep-rooted Japanese culture.
Walmart will be able to benefit from their close connections with Rakuten Japan Online, which is Japan’s largest retailer online, in future projects.
.Is Walmart In Japan In 2022? (Yes, But Not What You Think)