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Business Trends

SoftBank, Yahoo Japan and Aeon to set up online retail site

New 'marketplace' will compete with rivals such as Amazon and Rakuten

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group, Yahoo Japan and retailer Aeon will jointly operate an online retail website in an effort to compete with rivals such as Amazon.com in the Japanese market, according to an official at one of the companies.

The collaboration also aims to bring synergies to operations of brick-and-mortar stores. SoftBank's robotics and artificial intelligence expertise could help ease staffing challenges due to a tight labor market. SoftBank robots could be introduced in Aeon stores, for instance.

Yahoo and Aeon already have their own retail websites, but the new platform will likely be similar to Amazon's "marketplace," which offers a wide range of items such as food, clothing and daily necessities, including products from third-party sellers.

Japan's major shopping mall operator, Rakuten, has already partnered with Wal-Mart Stores of the U.S., and plans to launch an online supermarket in Japan this year.

Last November, Seven & i Holdings, the operator of Japan's 7-Eleven convenience stores, launched its own fresh-food delivery service in partnership with office supplies provider Askul.

Following the news, shares of Softbank were down 1.1% from Thursday to trade at 8,676 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in afternoon trading. Shares of Yahoo were down 1.4% at 505 yen, while those of Aeon were off 0.6% at 1,805 yen.

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