JAPAN – Japan’s leading supermarket operator, Aeon has entered into an exclusive partnership agreement with Ocado Solutions, a division of London-based online grocer Ocado Group to expand its e-commerce.

Aeon will leverage on Ocado’s nearly 20 years of expertise in operating online groceries delivery business to launch and operate “the next generation online supermarket.”

Ocado is one of the fastest growing supermarket in the UK and has established a proprietary and sophisticated home delivery system leveraging artificial intelligence (AI )and robotics driven by a state-of-the-art customer fulfillment center (“CFC”).

The retailer has built a business model to provide its know-how and technologies to others and provides end-to-end online grocery solutions-the Ocado Smart Platform (“OSP”)-to retailers around the world.

Through Ocado’s support, Aeon said it will launch a new company by March 2020 to enhance digital, using AI and robotics, to provide a more convenient online shopping experience for our consumers.

Leveraging OSP, Aeon plans to setup the first CFC in Japan by 2023 and aim to achieve sales of 600billion yen (US$8.2bn) by 2030.

Aeon hopes to realize a highly efficient operations and distribution system to deliver “anytime, anywhere, anything” through superb application interface to meet its customer needs.

The Japanese retailer plans to integrate these technologies in its existing online supermarket business, store pick up, click & collect.

Aeon said it will continue to team up with various partners in Japan and around the world, to improve and build infrastructure to global standard and continue to investment in services to accommodate the digital era.

The optimization of digital technologies is also being advanced with respect to store operations and logistics.

In this way, the company expects it will work to maximize customer satisfaction by demonstrating strengths in the fusion of digital and real stores.

With the partnership, Aeon is aiming to compete with the likes of Amazon Fresh and Walmart who recently forayed into the market. In 2018, Walmart launched an online grocery venture with e-commerce firm Rakuten operating as Seiyu.

Ocado and Marks & Spencer this year agreed to a 1.5-billion-pound joint venture, creating Ocado Retail and signalling the end of Ocado’s supply contract with upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose in September 2020.