I’m just back from Japan. One of the first things to hit me was how different the shops were. Being a sad case I took a few snaps to share with the team. Here’s my tourist with a smartphone view on Japanese retail.
Limited space: crowded floor to ceiling fixtures and loads of POS in electricals and chemists, and telescoping shelves in the 7-11 chiller.
Will it vend? It must vend! Vending machines abound. Beer, cigarettes, drinks, newspapers… How about champagne and fruit? You can even pay with your Oyster card in the station.
Different norms on ranges: This is an Island nation with a parallel development cycle for products (Galapagos Syndrome) – including 15 varieties of Kit Kats and a lemon variant of Orangina, Lemongina.
The ones that stood out for me were at convenience store Lawson:
- The on-the-go hot drinks fixture with too many coffee cans to count;
- The standalone energy drinks / vitamin drinks fixture;
- All the clothing you’d ever need if you had just pulled an all-nighter and needed to stay in the office (vest, shirt, underwear, tie)
Value retailing is prevalent here too: The 100 yen store (c50p) and the 300 yen store (c£1.50). Lots of Halloween promotions here – their masks and facepaints looked pretty awesome. Daiso is a good example and had neat, well stocked shelves – it didn’t feel like a jumble sale.
Presentation / attention to detail: I’d anticipated beautiful bento boxes arranged with military precision. Fruit was the only food that was expensive. This market stall presented in Tokyo had individually shrink wrapped items, and I stumbled across a 25 quid presentation box in a department store (a “branded fruit gift” I was told).
Some packaging surprises: sake in juice boxes, cartons, glass cans, bottles
Surprisingly there was little digtal POS: staff ratios seemed better than UK stores
My favourite shop? Don Quijote, an Aladdin’s Cave discounter selling everything from groceries to electricals to clothes. Open 24/7 in Shinjuku.