By D. Marutschke
This publication discusses non-stop development thoughts of eastern comfort shop operators. The research highlights the efforts of businesses working less than lean administration structures to spot new, dynamic, firm-specific services in hugely aggressive markets.
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Additional resources for Continuous Improvement Strategies: Japanese Convenience Store Systems
First, one needs to ask in what way the CS system can be seen as an exemplary approach to enhance working standards through small and gradual improvements. This information provides a solid basis to address the broader issue how a lean system can sustain a culture of ongoing change even in the long term and how it can revitalize organizational capabilities in a highly competitive environment. Finally, the clinical study is aimed to answer the question of whether the process of continuous improvement per se leads to capability traps and, if so, to which type of capability trap.
If the accuracy of this ﬁrst hypothesis is conﬁrmed in sales data, order placements can be reﬁned by dividing the customer group into even more detailed subcategories, such as gender and speciﬁc age groups, providing the basis for the next step of improvement. Products and services The product line-up is essential for a CS chain to distinguish itself from other competitors. Although Japanese CS have smaller sales ﬂoor space than US equivalents (usually 100m2 against 162m2 ), they offer more stock-keeping units (3,000 compared to 2,500 in the US) (Yahagi, 1994).
According to the Historical overview and the CS system 37 convenience store manual by the SME Agency published in 1972, these stores were initially deﬁned as follows: • • • • • • • Location in residential areas Floor space smaller than 300m2 Product line-up focusing on daily items Self-service shopping Longer opening hours than regular shops in the same area Open the whole year Labor efﬁcient management (usually one store owner with several assistants) • Friendly and individual customer service A few years later, a Nikkei newspaper article used a more consolidated deﬁnition in 1979:8 • • • • • Floor space smaller than 330m2 Self-service shopping Product line-up focusing on daily items Opening hours are longer than 12 hours Closed only a few holidays in one year Especially the move from residential to rural areas of chains and a more diverse pattern of the stores led to the current and generally accepted deﬁnition by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) (It¯ o (2004): 115):9 • • • • Floor space between 30m2 and 250m2 Drinks and food as the main components of the product line-up Self-service shopping environment Daily opening hours of at least 14 hours, while the store must be open throughout daytime In contrast with Japan, stores in the US have generally more parking lots and are frequently located alongside busy roads and gas stations.