We adore Japanese snacks (the packaging! The exotic flavours!), but jostling with the crowd at a Don Don Donki or Daiso outlet can be a test of human endurance. Then we got a press e-mail update from Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) PR folks. For a short period from now till March 31, JETRO partners local online retailer RedMart to hold a Japan Hyper Fest, offering imported Japan-made confectionery, artisanal snacks and fresh produce.

The collaboration, which includes a range of Hokkaido products, also came about as JETRO aims to boost Hokkaido’s economy through exports, after a devastating magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck southern Hokkaido in September 2018 and severely disrupted their industries.

Out of curiosity, we had a peek at the foodstuff on RedMart. To be honest, the items aren’t unique to the e-tailer. You can get most of them at your nearest Don Don Donki store, or even Daiso at relatively competitive prices. The difference is that when you shop for your Japanese junk food blowout online, there are deliverymen to do all the heavy lifting of sending your purchases to your doorstep, and nobody cuts your queue at the cashier counter. The pleasure for such service comes at a $5.99 shipping fee, unless your order is above $40.

Still, there’s the thing about RedMart’s recent move to Lazada. Customers could previously shop for RedMart groceries via the retailer’s own dedicated website. But as of March 15, RedMart’s operations have shifted over to their new platform on the Alibaba Group-owned online shopping website Lazada, which bought over RedMart in 2016. While the RedMart branding will still be used there, this means that the RedMart app and website are now defunct, though you can buy their products via Lazada’s app and website.

“You can search the term ‘JETRO special’ or scroll down the page and click on the Japan Hyper Fest tab below the ‘Top Picks’ section to access the wide range of products,” JETRO’s PR rep tells us, adding that customers can also shop for the items via this link. It all sounds pretty troublesome to us. Can bring back RedMart’s own website or not?

We’ve always found Lazada’s layout tedious to navigate, unlike RedMart’s clean, user-friendly website. The joy of browsing RedMart for things we didn’t even know we need or want is gone now, and we’re not sure if we want to continue buying from RedMart-Lazada in future.

But good news for diehard customers, RedMart’s handy delivery timeslot reservation (that you can chope when you’re checking out your groceries) is still available, via Lazada. Though the function to amend your order after you’ve checked out (for when, say, you forgot to include a crucial bottle of soy sauce) is “not available yet”, we’re told.

Below are some Japanese products from the RedMart x JETRO collaboration that we think would make more sense to order online. If you don’t drive or live next door to Don Don Donki, it’s mercifully convenient to get perishable frozen foodstuff, heavy snack products and fragile items like cookies delivered.

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