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Self-serve Convenience Stores Move Inside Companies

In Japan, businesses are allowing small standalone convenience stores in breakrooms and other places.
August 11, 2017

​TOYKO – Convenience store vending machines or kiosks are popping up in company breakrooms and other central locations to meet the needs of white collar employees, the Japan Times reports.

In July, Lawson debuted Petit Lawson, a self-service kiosk which sells items from candy to cup noodles in offices. Lawson estimated it would have a thousand kiosks installed by February.

FamilyMart Co. has a vending machine that stocks rice balls, bread and salads. “I don’t want to go to convenience stores outside because they are crowded,” said a female customer who purchased a salad from the vending machine at her company’s office in Tokyo’s Marunouchi business district. “I often use this vending machine because the products are frequently changed.”

The move comes as the industry is facing workforce issues. In April, Reuters reported that Japan’s growing labor shortage is threatening the nation’s ubiquitous convenience stores, an industry that relies on “an army of part-timers packing bento lunch boxes, manning cash registers and delivering goods 24/7.”