Monday, October 28, 2013

Japanese convenience stores: 3 reasons why they are so good!

Even before coming to Asia, I've heard a lot about the convenience stores, but didn't know what they were. Basically they are stores which offer the same products you find in the supermarket, drugstores and bookstores, everything in just one place.

This is a famous convenience store in Japan, you can find everywhere.

"But, what is the advantage of going to there instead of going to supermarket or drugstores and bookstores?" - you might be asking. Well, I will explain it in this post.

Basically, there are three advantages: conbinis (this is how the japanese call the convenience stores) are open 24 hours, they are everywhere and offer discounts and promotion for clients. These advantages are the three reasons why they are so good, specially if compared to many western countries where this kind of business is not so strong as in Asia.

When I just arrived in Japan, went to the closest conbini to buy some stuffs. After paying, the cashier asked me to put my hand in a box full of papers and get four of them which had pictures of an ice coffee, a coke and two snacks. Suddenly, she said: "Congratulations! You won all this!". 

I just went there to buy a bottle of water and credits for the cell phone, but ended caring a lot of things to home. Then, I realized that the convenience stores do this kind of action very often to get loyal clients. Another store to my work gave me a point card to get discounts because I buy things in there everyday. My coworker got two prizes after buying many goods and gathering many seals.

My coworkers were gathering these seals from goods bought in the conbini to change for exclusive products, like a Hello Kitty's plate. 
During my first weeks in Japan, I didn't know that conbinis were open 24 hours. As the commerce here mainly closes between 8pm and 10pm (yes, very early), I thought the same thing happened with the convenience stores. Until the day I saw one open during the night, since then I could stop running from work to get the supermarket still open.

Of course, the prices are a little more expensive (about 5% which is ok) and there is no much variety as the supermarkets, drugstores and bookstores do. But, you can still find the basic goods for your daily activities in any store close to you, including other services as ATM, photocopy & print.

This is the stand with "bento", cheap meals which can be found in any conbini. 

There are magazines and comic books for the clients to buy or to read right there.

The copy machines can be handled by the clients, each copy costs ¥10 (about U$10 cents).
I would like my country to have this kind of commerce too, but as some western countries are not so safe as Japan, could be difficult to run a store during the whole night. By the way, are there convenience stores in your country? So, take some pictures and upload them in Taptrip for the whole world to know.

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