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Brick-and-mortar shops and online stores compete for customers in Japan

Aalto University professors acted as travel guides for Finnish business leaders in Tokyo.
The group visiting Rakuten’s headquarters in October 2016.

Directors from Kesko, Posti Group and Unilever visited Tokyo in late October with a view to learning about local retail business models and concepts. The Finnish funding agency Tekes also participated in the trip. Professors Arto Lindblom and Lasse Mitronen from the Aalto University School of Business were responsible for the arrangements.

‘Japan is a fascinating and attractive destination for both researchers and company directors interested in the retail sector. In Japan, you can see a wide range of retail concepts and operating models that are developing at a rapid pace. They can give you a good idea of the changes and trends that will take place in the retail sector in the near future,’ explains Professor Lindblom.

Discussions with the locals revealed that the retail business in Japan is also facing turmoil and competition between various business models and marketplaces is heating up. Both conventional brick-and-mortar shops and modern online stores and electronic service platforms are vying for customers. Online marketplaces, such as Amazon and Rakuten, have enjoyed a sudden surge in popularity among Japanese consumers.

During their trip, the Finnish group visited the headquarters of Japan’s largest e-commerce company Rakuten in Futako-Tamagawa and met the top-tier management of the illustrious department store Matsuya. The group’s agenda for the visit also included an excursion to the new logistics centre of Yamato Transport, situated in Haneda. In addition, the group got together with Finnish business leaders living in Tokyo to hear their experiences of the Japanese business culture and retail practices.

Further information:
Professor Arto Lindblom, project leader
Aalto University School of Business
[email protected]

Professor of Practice Lasse Mitronen
Aalto University School of Business
[email protected]

The trip was arranged as part of the Global Marketplaces project, funded by Tekes. This project is aimed at increasing the understanding of digital marketplaces and the ecosystems, structures, operating logic and management methods that form around them. The Department of Marketing of the Aalto University School of Business is responsible for the realisation of the project. The project is funded by Kesko, Posti, Unilever and Solteq, as well as Tekes. It will run from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017.

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