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TechCrunch reports that Walmart is working with Japanese retailer Rakuten and has opened its first e-commerce store in Japan.

According to the story, the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store hopes “to help Walmart grab a slice of Japan’s e-commerce market, which is estimated to be worth 16.5 trillion yen ($148 billion) per year.

“The store, which sits on Rakuten Ichiba — Japan’s largest e-commerce store — will cover 1,200 ‘U.S. branded’ products that include clothing, outdoor items and kids toys. Walmart will fulfill orders in the U.S. and they will be sent by air to Japan where Rakuten will use its e-commerce smarts to deliver them. There’s no word on how long the process will take, but it will include shipping cost, duties and taxes in the final price.”

However, Walmart long has had problems cracking the code on Japanese retailing - there long have been rumors, denied by Walmart, that it wants to sell its Seiyu business there - and this is seen as a way of taking a different approach.

TechCrunch writes that “partnering with Rakuten, the $10 billion e-commerce giant that also covers financial services, travel, mobile and more, is a smart way to take a bite out of Japan’s online market with risk or exposure. Though it does have its limits. Amazon, Walmart’s big domestic rival, is taking on Rakuten directly, by contrast, and seeing some success albeit at a high cost of investment.”
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