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Japan’s Rakuten Introduces Retail Tool For Digital Transformation

Rakuten, a Japanese tech company specializing in digital eCommerce solutions for retailers, is introducing a new subsidiary to bolster physical stores.

Tentatively called Rakuten DX, the new unit will launch schemes for digital transformation at retailers’ physical shops, Rakuten said in a statement on Monday (Nov. 16).

The subsidiary is tracking to launch in January of next year to meet the accelerating demand for online shopping and digital payments.

“Customer expectations are on the rise for new online services and seamless experiences across online and offline retail from supermarkets and other businesses operating brick-and-mortar retail stores,” Rakuten said.

The company offers 70-plus services such as online mergers with offline (OMO) and data marketing that tap technology to advance a new brick-and-mortar experience. The offshoot company aims to transform Japan’s physical stores across the food products and necessities segments.

Rakuten sees digital transformation as the essential driver of retail’s future and wants to speedup artificial intelligence (AI) innovations to improve inventory control, pricing, forecasting and cashierless technology.

For OMO initiatives, the company is aiming to harness online and offline purchasing data to facilitate a more personalized shopping journey for users.

Rakuten is also looking into new partnerships with companies eager for digital transformation, such as a recent tie-up with Tokyu Corporation.

Rakuten also announced it was teaming up with the U.S. investment firm KKR to acquire 85 percent of the $1.6 billion Japanese grocery chain Seiyu, which is owned by Walmart. KKR will own 65 percent; Rakuten, 20 percent; and Walmart will retain 20 percent ownership.

The planned June launch of 5G was postponed until September by Rakuten due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a second infection wave continued to hit most of the U.S. as well as Europe and other parts of the world, experts mulled if the digital-first economy could end up becoming the digital-only economy.

PYMNTS research showed that safety is among the key determinants in long-term eCommerce participation.

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