- JAPAN: Rakuten and Lawson to trial initiative that combines drone deliveries and convenience store mobile sales
Trial to begin at Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka store on October 31
Tokyo, 2017-Oct-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Rakuten, Inc. and Lawson, Inc. today (October 6, 2017) announced that the two companies will begin a trial initiative that combines mobile sales via dedicated vehicles and product deliveries through the use of drones. The trial will operate out of Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka Store (Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture) and will launch on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. This initiative, which pairs drone deliveries with convenience store mobile sales, will be the first of its kind in Japan.
Odaka District in Minamisoma City was designated as a district under evacuation orders due to the effects of the nuclear accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This designation was rescinded in July 2016, and the town is starting to regain its former liveliness as its residents continue to return home. However improving the shopping environment for daily necessities, food, and other products represents a high-priority challenge.
Lawson’s Minamisoma-Odaka Store opened in October 2016. It was the first convenience store to resume operations in the Odaka District. With this collaboration, mobile sales will be made twice a week to the Odaka District from the store. One of these will involve the delivery of fried foods, such as “Kara-age Kun” fried chicken, and other items that are unable to be loaded onto the mobile sales vehicle, by Rakuten Drone delivery drone to the mobile sales destination from the store*1. This service trial will be carried out for six months after which consideration will be given to the official launch of the service.
* The drone may not be able to fly due to weather conditions such as rainfall, wind, or extreme temperature.
Lawson began offering mobile sales in 2013, and now has approximately 80 stores in 28 prefectures engaged in such sales, primarily in rural, mountainous regions and to elder-care facilities in urban areas. Through mobile sales, Lawson is aiming to create “local shopping communities” that provide the joy of shopping and create connections with the community through mobile sales.
In May 2016, Rakuten lauched Rakuten Drone (then called Sora Raku), a service for providing drone delivery solutions. Since then, the company has earned a strong track record in drone delivery through the use of its drones at golf courses and joint demonstration experiments with local governments and other organizations. In February, Rakuten concluded a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture part of which includes the development of a new distribution system utilizing drones. This current initiative will serve as the first step towards the introduction of drone delivery via a collaboration with Lawson, which has previously partnered with other Rakuten Group services.
Through this collaboration, Rakuten and Lawson will work to improve the shopping environment in Minamisoma City, aiming to jointly contribute to the development of the local community.
Source: Rakuten Inc.