Bic Camera, Rakuten looking at JV

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(Source: Inside Retail Asia | December 22, 2017)

Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten and consumer electronics retailer Bic Camera are considering a JV that will marry virtual and real stores.

They expect to sign a basic agreement soon with a view to setting up their partnership early next year to work toward launching their e-commerce site in April.

Bic Camera already has an online store on Rakuten Ichiba virtual mall. Through integrating their systems, Bic Camera will upgrade its online store into a joint site that will offer improved services, such as easy booking for delivery and installation.

Buyers will also be able to search for brick-and-mortar Bic Camera locations that carry the product that interests them. Eventually, the scope of their cooperation will be expanded to cover in-store pickups of online orders, common shopping points and joint delivery services.

While online sales account for nearly 30 per cent of consumer electronics and appliance sales in Japan, shoppers say they want to touch and see products before buying, reports Nikkei Asian Review. They also criticise the lack of attentive delivery and installation services they can find at physical stores.

For Bic Camera, 9.2 per cent of its sales, at ¥72.9 billion (US$643 million), were online for the year to the end of August. While the company has its own e-commerce site, it does not anticipate much negative impact from launching the store with Rakuten.

“Most of the Rakuten Ichiba shoppers will be new customers for us, because people who buy in the ‘Rakuten economic zone’ are different from those who buy from our website,” says a Bic Camera official.

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