7-Eleven to Open Unmanned C-Stores in Japan

Customers will use their smartphones to pay for items.

February 06, 2024

This spring, 7-Eleven Japan will begin operating small outlets without any storefront staff, reported Nikkei Asia. The company aims to open the unmanned stores in locations it had difficulties opening in the past, such as in tower condominiums and inside factories.

Each location will be operated by a single employee, who is responsible for stocking products and ordering items.

The stores will be approximately 50 square meters and offer 1,200 products, less than half of 7-Eleven Japan’s usual number of products, reported Nikkei Asia.

The retailer already operates a few experimental stores in Tokyo and Osaka and will begin opening more locations in Tokyo this spring. According to Nikkei Asia, 7-Eleven Japan has already begun negotiating with around 20 companies that are interested in installing the unmanned stores on their premises.

7-Eleven Japan currently aims to have several dozens of the stores in the country.

Inside the stores, customers will use their smartphones to pay for items. Upon entering, they will use a dedicated app to scan a QR code. Then, customers will scan the barcode of the item they wish to purchase with their phone and pay with a debit or credit card, with no need to stop at a cash register.

In a recent Forbes article, 7-Eleven was touted as a perfect example of an organization that can improve and innovate not only by looking at competition, but by looking within its own company—specifically, looking at 7-Eleven in Japan.

According to the article, 7-Eleven is not just a convenience store in Japan, “it’s a vital part of Japan’s fast-paced lifestyle.”

Forbes took the idea of looking to Asia for innovation further, encouraging the company to consider what makes it so popular in Japan and determine what parts of that could also work in the United States. And Forbes said that other companies can sit down and determine this as well, by asking two main questions:

  • What do they do that we aren’t doing?
  • Can we do that, too?

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