Unmanned C-Store to Open in Japanese Post Office

FamilyMart is opening cashierless markets in unconventional places to stand out in a saturated c-store market.

October 22, 2021

Family Mart Convenience Store

TOKYO—Japanese convenience store FamilyMart Co. is opening unmanned convenience stores in Japanese post offices throughout the country.

The first c-store market is opening by the end of this month at a post office in the city of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture. FamilyMart plans to open 1,000 unmanned convenience stores by the end of fiscal 2024. Due to the convenience store oversaturation in Japan, the company is differentiating the stores by opening them in mostly unconventional locations.

The markets work by recognizing the products customers purchase through ceiling cameras and shelf sensors. Without a cashier, customers pay for their items using a special payment device.

FamilyMart and Japan Post Holdings established a partnership in 2016. Japan Post has worked with Lawson Inc. since 2008 to open convenience stores within post offices. Lawson and Japan Post had initially announced they would open 800 stores together, but only about 110 have gone online.

Unmanned c-stores are popping up across the globe. This week, Tesco opened a checkout-free store in Central London. The store, called GetGo, is 2,500 square feet with about 2,500 SKUs and is located in High Holborn. A cashierless convenience store opened in Toronto this month. Aisle 24 is a completely unmanned convenience store open 24 hours a day. Last month, an unmanned c-store called The Koto Ward test store opened in Tokyo, at about 430 square feet, and the store offers 600 items.