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7-Eleven Japan Looks to U.S. to Marry Online With Brick & Mortar

TOKYO -- Seven & I Holdings Inc. – parent company to U.S. division 7-Eleven Inc. – recently sent 50 department heads to America in an effort to turn the company’s Japanese brick-and-mortar stores into an online retail empire.

According to Reuters, Seven & I CEO Toshifumi Suzuki asked the department heads to visit retailers such as Macy’s Inc., shopping malls and Internet companies -- who use omnichannel integration -- to see how 7-Eleven Japan can marry a physical store presence with an online presence to boost sales.

"In the U.S. they observed, listened and they realized that this was possible, and now they’re all motivated," Suzuki told the news source, referring to the department heads.

Suzuki’s vision is to have customers order goods online from Seven & I’s department stores and supermarkets, which can be picked up from thousands of 7-Eleven stores across Japan. To do so, Suzuki has been in talks with major online players to create such pickup arrangements. However, is not one of them, the news outlet reported.

Currently, 7-Eleven’s Japanese stores don’t offer the same e-commerce options as its U.S. counterparts. The most noticeable example of this are Amazon lockers, where customers can pick up goods ordered from the online site at U.S. 7-Eleven locations.

"I’ve been talking for awhile inside the company about integrating the real [bricks and mortar] side with the Internet, but nobody was taking it seriously," Suzuki told Reuters.

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