Convenience Store Aims to Increase Sales in Japan with Bookstore Combo

Customers can now spend time reading books in their local Family Mart convenience store

Entrance to the Family Mart convenience store
Family Mart convenience store
4.6/55 ratings

A Family Mart convenience store with a difference opened in Ogi, Saga Prefecture in August. The new store features rows of bookshelves within its shopping section and an eat-in area where customers can relax reading a book while grabbing a bite to eat.

The store is the first of its kind, though not the last. The new convenience- and book- store combo was launched under a comprehensive partnership with book brokerage company, Nippon Shuppan Haubai Inc., which has companies such as Sekibunkan Bookstore Co.

“Bookstores are rooted in communities and have a strong affinity with convenience stores,’ said a Family Mart official.

The partnership aims to open many more stores throughout the country incorporating book sections. It also plans to add to the catalog of books already available at their existing outlets.

Bookstores struggling to remain in business

Rural regions in Japan have suffered the most from bookstore closures. Many are unable to compete with online bookstores while others lack successors to take over the running of the family business.

Research company, Arumedia, states that there are only around 12,000 bookstores in Japan as of May 2018. That is a reduction of 44 percent from 2000. A survey conducted by book broker, Tohan Corp. showed more than 20% of all cities, towns and villages in Japan lacked a bookstore.

A Family Mart convenience store with a difference opened in Ogi, Saga Prefecture in August. The new store features rows of bookshelves within its shopping section and an eat-in area where customers can relax reading a book while grabbing a bite to eat.

The store is the first of its kind, though not the last. The new convenience- and book- store combo was launched under a comprehensive partnership with book brokerage company, Nippon Shuppan Haubai Inc., which has companies such as Sekibunkan Bookstore Co.

“Bookstores are rooted in communities and have a strong affinity with convenience stores,’ said a Family Mart official.

The partnership aims to open many more stores throughout the country incorporating book sections. It also plans to add to the catalog of books already available at their existing outlets.

The convenience store market is saturated in Japan so finding new ways to encourage customers in is always necessary

Convenience stores being more competitive while meeting community book needs

The convenience store market is saturated in Japan so finding new ways to encourage customers in is always necessary. The new book addition seems to be working to boost sales at such stores.

Convenience store franchise, Lawson Inc., has been working with major Japanese bookstore, Bunkyodo, to provide its customers with reading material while they shop. So far, they have opened ten convenience-bookstore hybrids and they are having the desired effect. According to an official Lawson employee working on the project, “per-customer spending is 100 yen higher on average”, excluding books, compared to ordinary convenience stores.

However, businesses need large plots of land to be able to open a hybrid store. So, it is not as easy for all convenience outlets to get in on the bookstore action.

Lawson has done the next best thing in 3000 of its stores by placing bookshelves next to the magazine racks. It hopes to extend this set up to 4000 stores by February of next year.

Convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, takes orders from customers for magazines and then holds them until they can pick them up in the store next time they visit. Gardening and other specialist magazines are popular requests, as they’re not so widely available.

Japanese people can enjoy a wide range of benefits from their local convenience stores. Many serve as a social hub. With tables outside, local customers can enjoy ramen noodles and drinks with their friends. Now, people have more of an excuse to spend time at their favorite store, engrossed in a good book.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Convenience stores with books give customers an added reason spend time in their local store while also building a better sense of community. 

What do you think?

1 point
Upvote Downvote
Advocate

Written by Catherine McGuinness

Writer and Journalist with a love for all things Japan.

Up/Down VoterContent AuthorVerified UserStory MakerYears Of MembershipEmoji Addict

Comments

The rules: We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Comments are moderated by SMEJapan community managers, so let’s keep the questions friendly. Remember  be  cool!  Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff.   Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!  🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

Renewable energy - solar panels and a wind turbine

Toyota to Invest 10 Billion Yen in Renewable Energy Fund

Roger Federer running through the tennis court during the match

Uniqlo Deal: Why Tennis Ace Roger Federer Decided to Sign with the Retail Brand