ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Lawson, one of Japan’s largest c-store retailers, opened a convenience store in Tokyo staffed with avatars—a first for the convenience retailer, reports the Japan Times.
The on-screen avatars are remotely controlled by employees and can help customers at the self-checkout counter or in the aisles. They just can’t help with bill payments. The avatars are either Aoi or Sorato, which are the names of the female and male anime-style avatars.
The new store is Lawson’s first “Green Lawson,” which aims to promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The store will not offer plastic bags or disposable cutlery or straws starting January 10, and it stocks frozen boxed lunches to reduce food waste. The chain is also working on a made-to-order food preparation service and will collect paper bags from customers to use as shopping bags.
The chain plans to open 100 “green” stores by 2025, according to Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu.
“We hope to promote carbon neutrality across the entire company” by putting into practice measures that have proven successful at other Lawson stores, he told the Japan Times.
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven launched Singapore’s first 7Café concept store at Jewel Changi Airport. The café offers counter-served food and drinks, including specialty coffee, lemonade coolers and pastries, as well as fried chicken, burgers, sandwiches and onigiri.
"At 7-Eleven, we are always broadening our horizons and creating innovative offerings for our customers. The 7-Eleven Jewel Changi store seeks to provide a first-of-its-kind mini café experience with food being served at the counter for the convenience of our customers,” said Steven Lye, managing director of 7-Eleven Singapore. “We have also expanded our well-loved product range by adding a slew of new options. From items highlighting the iconic local flavors of Singapore to delectable ready-to-eat food options, there's something for everyone."
The 2023 NACS Convenience Summit Asia happens February 28-March 2 in Bangkok and will provide thought leadership and examples from best-in-class retailers. Register today. In 2024, NACS Convenience Summit Asia will take place in Singapore.