Cash remains the main method of payment in Japan, with the perception that Japan is a safe society with little likelihood of theft supporting the long-standing consumer preference for cash even when purchasing large-ticket items such as domestic appliances. The habit of consumers shopping frequently with a low spend per transaction does, though, add to cash’s strength in the market.
The deepening penetration of smartphones and their increasingly embedded role in daily lives are fundamentally reshaping how consumers search for information and shop. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for retailers to focus on the development of digital commerce activity that is suited to the specific requirements of mobile.
The efforts of store-based players to adapt to competition from e-commerce, changing consumer lifestyles and the increasingly embedded role of digital technology in consumers’ everyday lives are leading to a blurring of the distinctions between the traditional bricks-and-mortar and digital environments. The expansion of e-commerce is redefining the role of stores and forcing store-based retailers to focus on the unique qualities of physical outlets.
During the review period, SoftBank Group strengthened its digital capability through the acquisition of major players in the digital arena. SoftBank’s Yahoo! Japan, which changed its name to Z Holdings in October 2019, acquired Zozo, owner of well-known apparel e-commerce website Zozotown, which is particularly popular amongst younger consumers, in September 2019.
While increasing numbers of retailers are allowing digital payment apps, such as QR code payment, in their outlets, large convenience store players with nationwide chain networks are taking a further step forward by developing their own digital apps for payments and marketing. 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson, the three largest convenience store chains in Japan, each has its own app allowing consumers to receive coupons, collect and manage points, and gain access to free wifi at outlets.
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