Seven & I to launch Omni7 online marketplace next month

Oct 01

Two years after announcing its much vaunted omnichannel strategy, Seven & I is launching the first stage in its integration of both offline and online sales channels, introducing large scale ‘click & collect’ to Japan for the first time. While Amazon can provide same day delivery in some areas, Seven & I is about to offer same day pick-up at 18,000 convenience stores nationwide within hours of any order.

 

In November Seven & I Holdings will launch Omni7, a new online store that is designed to be the heart of the group’s omnichannel strategy. The new online market will bring together merchandise from eight group companies: Seven Eleven, Ito-Yokado, Sogo Seibu, Loft, Akachan Honpo, Seven Netshopping, Seven & I Food Systems and Seven Culture Network. Omni7 will operate in tandem with sub-stores like e.Castel, the new luxury online store  by Sogo Seibu (see Page 7).

Omni7 will have 6 million SKUs available for order by 2018, with a heavy emphasis on private and exclusive brands to differentiate the business from competitors. Third party brands will be offered too such as Uniqlo, emulating Amazon Marketplace.

What makes Omni7 compelling is that, within a year, almost all orders will be available for same-day delivery nationwide through the group’s Seven Eleven convenience store network.

It is the ubiquitous store network, currently numbering 18,000 stores, that will give Omni7 its distinct competitive advantage. While Amazon and others offer same delivery in Tokyo and a few other urban areas for orders made early enough in the day, Seven & I aims to offer a same day service for the bulk of its product range within hours of any order, and, for the first time in Japan, provide the service right across the country within a year of launch. On the morning commute, customers can order a new tie from Sogo Seibu, match it with a pen from Loft, add a child’s birthday present from Akachan Honpo, and then pick up the entire order at the Seven Eleven by the station on the way home.

Not even Amazon can match this kind of speed of delivery over the entire country – and Rakuten’s system of vendor by vendor delivery looks doubly clunky and inconvenient. Omni7 will be the first business to offer such an effective service, and while Yamato plans something similar through competing convenience stores, it can only offer the fulfilment side of the equation, requiring one or more tie-ups with retailers to provide the full service – Rakuten is already pushing merchants to sign up.

At launch, Omni7 will provide same-day delivery for the seven prefectures in the Kanto region, with purchases available for pick-up from 7,000 stores in total. Orders will of course be available 24-7, 365 days a year. Seven Eleven of course hopes customers will do some top up shopping when picking up their online orders from stores.

Customers will be able to pick up their purchases from the store of their choice – either near to home or near to work, alleviating any need for parcel lockers or for customers to be at home for deliveries. On the other hand, with almost every Seven Eleven store having an electric car on hand for direct to door deliveries, orders can also be brought to customers’ homes if required.

Seven Eleven will also handle returns and refunds – likely to be a popular convenience given the growing tendency to buy and try – and an option to pay on pick-up will also be available.

To integrate the omnichannel even further and make the service available to the handful of people who still do not have internet access, new digital ordering terminals will be introduced throughout the chain.

While the venture has taken a couple of years to kick-start following the acquisition of Nissen, Seven & I remains on track to swivel its entire business to sell online and provide click & collect. As soon as 2018, Seven & I is forecasting gross merchandise sales of ¥1 trillion through the omnichannel route alone, roughly 16% of its current group sales, and not far off the expected sales of Amazon Japan that year.

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