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Japan's largest convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, enters food delivery market

The move comes as 7-Eleven tries to tap into the growing demand for food home delivery to compete with online rivals like Rakuten and Amazon.

Japan’s largest convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, is set to launch a new food delivery service called ‘Net Konbini’ that will allow customers to have their groceries delivered in as little as two hours.

The move comes as 7-Eleven tries to tap into the growing demand for food home delivery to compete with online rivals like Rakuten and Amazon.

Known as ‘Net Konbini’ - the commonly shortened form of ‘convenience store’ in Japanese - the new delivery service plans to cover 7-Eleven's entire network of around 20,000 stores, following a soft launch in 25 stores in Hokkaido in October.

The delivery service will allow customers to choose from 2,8000 products - including Japanese store staples such as rice balls and bento lunch boxes - and place their order 24 hours a day.

Thanks to a partnership with logistics firm Seino Holdings, delivery trucks will be able to pick up orders from 7-Eleven outlets and drop them off to customers.

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The convenience store company says that its large portfolio of brick-and-mortar stores will give it a competitive edge in the e-commerce and delivery business.

Although 7-Eleven has run its “Seven Meal” meal delivery service since 2000, the move is seen as a first in the nation for convenience stores.

Speaking at a seminar, 7-Eleven President Kazuki Furuya said: “Using 20,000 stores to immediately deliver any of 2,800 products is a service only Seven-Eleven can provide.”

Demand for home delivery has grown quickly in Japan.

Last year Amazon Japan rolled out its “Amazon Fresh” grocery service in the country and the country’s leading e-commerce operator Rakuten is planning to open an online supermarket service, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, in partnership with Walmart subsidiary Siyu.

According to a report by IGD convenience stores will be the fastest-growing bricks-and-mortar channel in Asia over the next five years, as consumers change their shopping habits and opt for smaller portions, packaged food and ready-to-eat products.