‘Internet supermarkets’ increasingly popular in Japan

Supermarket outlets offering same-day delivery of foods and other products on Internet-based orders are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, with the number of such outlets expected to rise by 80% over the previous year to about 300 in fiscal 2009.

Ito-Yokado Co, a major retailer under Seven & I Holdings Co, and other major supermarket operators are raising the number of their stores for online services to benefit child-rearing housewives and elderly people who find it difficult to go to supermarkets.

Such supermarket outlets are now located mostly in urban areas, but they are likely to spread across the country with regional supermarkets also starting online services.

Ito-Yokado posted sales of 13 billion yen through online services in fiscal 2008 through February, up 2.6 times from the previous year.

Most of the customers were housewives in their 30s and 40s while about 10% were elderly people, according to Ito-Yokado.

The company offered online services at 99 outlets as of July 31 and had a membership of 420,000 customers.

It plans to increase the number of such outlets to 130 or 70% of its total stores within fiscal 2009 through next February.

Another retail giant Aeon Co is giving online services at 31 Jusco and other outlets and plans to roughly double the number of such outlets within fiscal 2009.

Seiyu Ltd is providing online services at 47 outlets and Izumiya Co is offering such services at 10 outlets. Uny Co plans to increase the number of such outlets from two to 10 shortly.

Okuwa Co, a midsize supermarket operator in Wakayama, is also accepting orders via fax or by phone, taking into account that many elderly people may find it difficult to use a personal computer.

Users must register their memberships on supermarkets’ websites and pay fees of 300 to 500 yen per delivery. They can receive free delivery if their purchases exceed certain levels.

source : http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/internet-supermarkets-increasingly-popular-in-japan