In Japan, there are more than 50,000 convenience stores. Major operators are Seven Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson. Most convenience stores are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
■ Useful facilities for travelers
If you want to withdraw cash in Japan, you should look for a Seven-Eleven rather than other convenience stores or the normal Bank ATMs. Seven-Eleven has a Seven Bank ATM, which lets you withdraw cash in JPY if you have an international cash card with “International” written on it.
(2) Trash box
You will notice that there are few trash boxes in public places in Japan. Most convenience stores provide trash boxes beside the entrance or in front of the casher.
Many convenience stores have toilets that can be used by general customers, which at times can be very helpful.
■ Strategies of convenience store business
(1) New business tie-ups
In order to attract customers, companies are branching out with new business tie-ups. Seven-Eleven recently launched a bicycle-sharing service in partnership with Softbank. Bikes can be reserved online, then picked up and dropped off at any affiliated store.
Family Mart plans to open a store with a 24-hour fitness club directly above it, and another with a laundromat service or coin laundry.
Lawson has been offering nursing care consultation services since 2015. The company now provides the service at more than 10 stores. Advice from certified nursing care workers or care managers is available free of charge.
(2) Strategy to boost up sales for foreigners
Some outlets of Seven-Eleven began using new cash registers. Bar-codes on products are scanned to automatically print out the document shoppers need for tax-free shopping. The process takes about five minutes, one-third the normal time.
Lawson has five tax-free stores. When customers scan QR codes with their mobile phones, they can view a detailed explanation of the products in 11 languages. Lawson intends to put this system in more of its stores. Lawson outlets also have special sections for tourists, selling Japanese snacks, cosmetics and character goods.
Family Mart plans to also offer tax-free shopping at stores near tourist sites and hotels.
It is recommended that you use a convenience store when you have a trouble.
(# of stores) Seven-eleven:19,166, Family-mart:18,185, Lawson: 12,839, Mini-stop: 2,247
Regarding technologies used by convenience stores, please see this script.