Ocado Solutions, a subsidiary of Ocado, has partnered with Japanese shopping centre giant Aeon to build the country’s first customer fulfilment centre.

The partnership, established in November 2019, formed Aeon Next Preparation Co with the plans to launch the online grocery business from an AI-fuelled warehouse by 2023.

Aeon Next has signed a deal to build a fulfilment centre measuring more than 27,500 sq m in Honda, Japan.

It will hold around 50,000 grocery products and will operate for 24 hours a day. 

Using Ocado Solutions, like those found in Ocado’s warehouses in the UK, the robotic pickers will be able to put together a 50-item order within six minutes.

AI algorithms will also be used to find the optimal routes for the most efficient home delivery.

Aeon Next said: “With the recent impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and the changing consumer lifestyle, there is a growing need for online grocery shopping. Aeon Next will provide customers with a service that enables them to shop comfortably from anywhere for fresh food and daily necessities, and from a wide selection of products. These products will then be conveniently delivered to their doorsteps.

“As the first large-scale automated warehouse in Japan leveraging Ocado’s robotics and AI, the new CFC will be a key showcase for the company’s domestic business. In order to achieve its mission of ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ delivery, a network of similar facilities is planned for construction in the next few years.”

Ocado chief executive Luke Jensen said: “Ocado is extremely excited about this announcement, which is a significant milestone for the partnership between Aeon and Ocado and a big moment for the story of online grocery in Japan.

”Over the past few months, more people than ever before have turned to online grocery, and with Ocado’s technology set to drive a world-beating quality of service from this and future CFCs, we can’t wait for Japanese customers to experience Aeon Next.”