Is Walmart In Japan In 2022? (Yes, But Not What You Think)
Japan boasts the third-richest global economy, making it a natural choice for American companies to seek to make a home there.
That can be difficult, though, especially for Western companies, who may lack insight into the particular culture of Japan and its shoppers.
Have you ever visited the Land of the Rising Sun? Or are you just curious: Does Walmart have a store 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 presence is defined by the retaining of a share in Sieyu’s supermarket chain, and the partnership it has with Rakuten. Rakuten in Japan is Japan’s most prominent eCommerce firm. Until recently, Sieyu was a subsidiary of Walmart, but the American retail giant announced it was selling 85 percent of its shares in November 2020.
Japan has How Many Walmarts
Walmart Japan does not actually have Japanese store locations. Instead, Walmart Japan owned and operated Japanese Seiyu grocery outlets.
According to Bridget Goldschmidt of ProgressiveGrocer.com, there are about 300 Seiyu locations all throughout Japan.
They include several clusters in Tokyo as well as near Nagano and Kyoto.
What Is Seiyu?
Seiyu stands for the Japanese grocery store chain, which Walmart bought to its full ownership in 2008.
The Japanese chain, which was founded in 1963 had been around for a long time. Walmart first purchased a 37-percent stake in the business in 2002.
Walmart was able to acquire a majority of the stake 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.
There are three types of Seiyu stores: Seiyu Supermarkets, which are more like Walmart Neighborhood Markets; Seiyu Hypermarkets, which are like Walmart Supercenters.
There is also one Seiyu General Merchandise shop in Tokyo that doesn’t sell food.
Christian Monson wrote about Japan shopping. He described many similarities and contrasts between Seiyu’s and Walmart.
Monson is of the opinion that Seiyu Supermarkets have a lot in common with Walmart Neighborhood Markets.
Seiyu supermarkets feel very Western-like, according to him.
Monson is of the opinion that hypermarkets show the largest differences.
Seiyu’s Hypermarkets are found underground of huge buildings located in busy city centres 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 notes that Seiyu can sell products which are quite unique (and appropriate culturally); certain shops even have kimonos available for everyone.
Which Japanese Challenges did Walmart Have to Face?
As others ask, why did Walmart fail Japan?
After years of working in the Japanese market, Walmart finally announced that they would be giving up 85 per cent of their shares.
Another retailer has been forced to run, tails down: Alliance Boots UK and French Carrefour.
So why is it so tough to make it in Japan?
Although that may seem unbending, the change didn’t happen quickly enough to have a significant impact on Seiyu’s sales already struggling.
Changes in the supply chain caused a very popular item to disappear from shops. This alone led customers to abandon Seiyu.
This article states that Walmart managers tended to be more concerned with managerial staff than the store workers.
Walmart’s emphasis in frozen foods (very common in America) made it difficult and unpleasant for Japanese shoppers, who were used and used to fresh produce.
Is Rakuten Part Of Walmart?
Rakuten was and is a key stakeholder in Walmart.
Rakuten bought 20 percent of Seiyu’s shares (Walmart will still retain a 15 per cent share). This was after Walmart sold most of its shares.
Walmart was also joined by Rakuten for the launch of an online store, called Walmart Rakuten Ichiba.
The idea was to create an eCommerce platform for American goods that Walmart would fulfill.
Additionally, Rakuten and Walmart teamed up to offer online grocery delivery and e-readers/ebooks/audiobooks, a la Amazon.
Rakuten does not belong to Walmart. However, they are close friends in many areas and have multiple investments.
Walmart may be a good choice if you want to know more.
Walmart has had a presence in Japan since the early 2000s, though it is obvious that things haven’t necessarily gone the way they would hope for.
Deeply embedded Japanese culture and norms, very different from what Walmart is used to in the States, seemed to contribute to the retail giant’s floundering.
However, their close ties to Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retailer, should yield interesting and ongoing projects in the future for Walmart.
.Is Walmart In Japan In 2022? (Yes, But Not What You Think)