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Uber to expand 'dark stores' in Japan, becoming retailer

Meal delivery arm to increase physical footprint for fast online groceries

Uber Eats has been expanding its offerings in Japan beyond restaurants by listing products from retailers like convenience store chain Lawson and supermarket chain Seiyu. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

TOKYO -- Uber Technologies will expand its network of "dark stores" in Japan as part of its effort to boost its rapid grocery delivery business, stepping further into a new frontier of online shopping that is quickly growing into a battleground.

Uber's meal delivery service, Uber Eats, opened two dark stores -- distribution centers for online shopping -- in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district and Setagaya Ward since December, making a move toward becoming a retailer itself. Dubbed Uber Eats Market, they are dedicated facilities stocked with fresh and frozen foods that are ordered via the Uber Eats app and delivered by registered couriers in as little as 30 minutes. Compared to listing products by supermarkets or convenience stores, running its own operation enables Uber to use data to predict demand and manage inventory efficiently.

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