Yahoo, Softbank and Aeon could be cooking up an Amazon Japan challenger

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It has been reported that Amazon Japan may be subject to greater competition in the months to come. It’s said that Softbank, Yahoo Japan, and retailer Aeon are teaming up to launch a new online marketplace. Amazon already experiences stiff competition from Japanese company Rakuten.

Any potential alliance would reportedly combine Softbank and Yahoo Japan’s significant customer base and analytics technology with Aeon’s products and distribution network. Softbank, which makes the Pepper robot, might also supply robotic assistance to Aeon’s stores to cut costs and improve efficiency. Aeon operates 626 stores and outlets and 303 malls globally and is well-known as a significant bricks-and-mortar retailer in Japan. That high street network could offer click and collect advantages.

Amazon launched in Japan in the year 2000, three years after Rakuten, which remains more popular. Last April, research firm DI Marketing found that 70.2% of online consumers used Rakuten regularly, compared to 66.7% who use Amazon Japan.

Amazon has been investing to expand its footprint in Japan recently and has launched original shows for Amazon Video, is experimenting with food deliveries in a select number of metropolitan areas and has also opened a new photography studio in Tokyo to support its fashion retail operations. But it isn’t, perhaps, prospering as much as it might, with just 16% of Amazon users in Japan being Prime members. Don’t forget that roughly two-thirds of Amazon customers in the US are believed to be Prime subscribers.

Amazon Japan is probably the lesser known member of the Amazon family. But it is open for business to overseas merchants. Indeed, if you are worried about trading on the site, it is worth remembering that Amazon has made it easier for westerners to sell on the site by providing a console to manage inventory and sales in English. Japan is the 4th biggest ecommerce market in the world after China, USA, and the UK.

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