Do you know this monumental building for peace in Japan?

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This is the last week of my business trip to Japan. So I went to Hiroshima which is in the west part of Japan. Because I would like to look at one of the most famous old buildings in Japan.

This is called “Hiroshima Peace Memorial” ( In short, Genbaku dome in Japanese).  As  you know,  Hiroshima city was attacked by atomic bombing by US army in August 1945 and more than 100,000 people were killed.  This building could survive under the attack of this bombing.  Therefore, in 1996, the Genbaku dome was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Many foreigners come here and see what was going on there in 1945.  I am very glad for them to come to Hiroshima and share our thoughts with them.

 

It is good for many people from abroad to come here and think about peace of the world.  The problem is Hiroshima-city is located far from Tokyo, center of Japan.  Many people use “Shinkansen” or “Bullet train” to go from Tokyo to Hiroshima as it is very convenient.  It usually, however, costs more than 18,000 JPY (around 600MRG).  Some foreign tourists may give up going to Hiroshima because it costs too much.

To solve this problem, I would like to recommend using domestic flights from Narita to Hiroshima.  In my case, it costs around 8,000 JPY (6,000 JPY for a domestic flight,   around 2,000 JPY for access from cities to airports), although it takes a little more time compared with Shinkansen totally.  This flight is operated by Spring Japan.  I would like to recommend this flight for everyone as it is smooth and comfortable. This picture is the counter of Spring Japan in Narita airport terminal3.

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Most of foreigners arrive at Haneda or Narita international airport in Japan.  I think It is a good choice to visit Hiroshima after visiting Tokyo.  There are some international airports in the west part of Japan.  The biggest one is Kansai international airport in Osaka.  Hiroshima also has its international airport.  So they can go back to their home countries from these airports after visiting Hiroshima.

 

When I have a business trip to Japan,  I usually arrive at Haneda international airport in Tokyo and leave Japan from Kansai international airport because I should move around the west part of Japan during my business trip.  I used only Shinkansen to go from Tokyo to cities in the west part of Japan before.  However, as domestic flights are increasing, especially flights operated by low cost carriers are increasing dramatically, now that we can have a lot of choices going around Japan. Why don”t you use domestic flights and enjoy more in Japan, too?

 

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This is an additional information about convenience stores in Japan. Now there are many convenience stores inside ticket gates at stations. So you can enjoy shopping there just before getting on the train!

 

OK, I am going back to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.  See you there again!

 

Who will be the winner in the competition of convenience stores in Japan?

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Today I am in Tokyo, Japan. So I would like to write convenience stores in Japan.  Since 7-eleven opened in 1974, there are a lot of varieties of  convenience stores in Japan. But as the populations of Japan are decreasing  and too many convenience stores are already in Japan,  Competions of convenience stores are getting tougher and tougher. Therefore, small and medium sized store chains have a hard time and some of them are acquired d by big  convenience store chains.  Now it is almost clear that the big three, which are 7-elevenLawson and Family Mart, dominate the market.

There are many convenience stores in Japan.  Therefore, they have huge impacts to merchandise there. For example,  a cup of coffee is served at the counter of most of convenience stores. Some of them are self-serviced. The taste is very good, although it is reasonable (around 100JPY).  They are getting popular and compete with canned  coffee in vendor machines or coffee shops.  You can try this coffee when you come to Japan as there are many convenience stores near the stations.

 

In terms of usage of big data for business decisions,  I am very interested in Lawson because it analyses data from stores and predict what products are popular.  This picture is my “Ponta CARD”.  When I buy products at Lawson, I present it at the counter.  So Lawson knows what and when I buy there.  It works all over Japan, therefore a huge amount of data is collected and analyzed everyday.

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According to “Top Management Message October 7, 2015” by Lawson,  it introduces more advanced “semi-automatic ordering system”. Let see what it is.

“We began introducing our new semi-automatic ordering system from June to improve the delivery of products to our stores. The system is designed to recommend the most appropriate product lineup and number of items for delivery based on a range of data for ready-made snack meals and other categories, such as Ponta member purchasing trends, a store’s most recent sales data and information on heavy user purchases, information from other stores with a similar customer base, the weather, and finally information on the various campaigns conducted. The semi-automatic ordering system had been introduced in approximately 7,500 stores at the end of August 2015.” (1)

It is amazing!  Convenience store is usually not so big. Therefore, it is very important to know how many and what products are on store shelves. Data tells us how to do that accurately! I would like to research  what important factors are in this analysis going forward. You may be interested in them, too!

 

When you come to Japan,  you can find convenience stores at the every corner of the cities. There are many onigiri (rice ball), bento (lunch box), breads, beverages and sweets. Most of them are open 24 hours a day so you can enjoy shopping  anytime you want. Let us go there and see who will be the winner in the competition of convenience stores in Japan!

 

Source

1. Lawson website

http://lawson.jp/en/ir/message/backnumber/151007.html

 

 

Note: Toshifumi Kuga’s opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy.  The information in this article is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region market or investment.

Data from third-party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and I, Author of the article has not independently verified, validated such data. I and TOSHI STATS.SDN.BHD. accept no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from the use of this information and relies upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user. 

Do you know how “the community bus system” works in Japan?

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This is a picture of Shin Urayasu station and it’s bus terminal.  This week, I stay in Shin-Urayasu near Tokyo Disneyland as I have a business trip to Japan.   It is nice to stay here because the weather is always good.   So I walked outside and found small buses are going into the town.  It is called “community bus”.  Please compare a white bus in the left and a red bus in the right on the picture above.  A left white bus is smaller than a red one.  Let me explain how this community bus works as the important part of the city transportation system.

 

In Japan,  most stations in cities have bus terminals in them. Just like the pictures above, many people can go to the stations from their home by using  buses. Some of them live in places where they cannot walk to stations as it takes too much time.  Therefore, buses are needed for people in cities to reach stations.

The problem is that buses are usually too big to drive through small roads in cities.  Buses usually run through main streets and people should go to  bus-stops along main streets.  It takes time to go from home to bus-stops along main streets.  Unlike other countries in Asia, Japan is an aging society.  So many senior people live here. It is very difficult for seniors to walk from home to bus stops along main streets.

This is why  “community bus” are introduced.  This picture shows us  “community bus”.

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Please compare a motorcycle to the bus.  You can find this bus is not so big.  Therefore the bus can drive along small roads in residential areas.  Bus stops can be located near homes.  It is good for senior people as they can go to stations, shopping malls and hospitals by “community bus” more easily.  It runs every 20 minutes in Urayasu city.

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When you look at the picture above, you can notice that door steps are located lower than usual. Therefore It is easier for older people to get on and off “community bus” than big buses. Of course, it is more energy-efficient to bring a smaller number of people to destinations as it is lighter than a big bus.

 

Now many Asian cities including Kuala Lumpur have developed railway systems in cities to reduce traffic jams.  We also should consider, however, how we can go to and come back from the stations. Otherwise, railway systems cannot be used as main transportation systems because most people may continue to use cars.  In the future, with GPS system, we might be noticed that how we can use buses to go to destinations in a real-time basis through mobile devices. It must be more convenient as we do not need to wait buses at bus-stops for a long time!

What will be the flight service in the future? I write it in the air!

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Now I am in the air from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo as I have a business trip.  I always use Air Asia because it is convenient and reasonable. Since AirAsia has operated,  it is getting cheaper to flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo. It is very good, especially for younger generations. I would like to welcome them in Japan very much.  Then I am wondering what the flight service will be in the future. Let us consider it with me!

 

1. Service on flight

Low cost carriers, including AirAisa increase the number of customers per flight compared with legacy carriers to reduce the price of the flight. Therefore services for each customer are not the sane as legacy carriers.  I think, however, it will be improved dramatically supported by digital technologies.  At each site, electronic dashboard might be equipped and all information, such as flight schedules,  emergency evacuation methods might be provided.  These are translated into many languages with machine translations so there is no need to worry about language barriers. ( In my flight of AirAsia, English, Japanese and Malay are used in the flight announcement. ) Meals in a fight will be improved, too.  We might order meals on demand through the electronic dashboard whenever you want to eat. These data can be collected customer by customer.  Therefore, preference of each customer might be known in advance.  This technology is called “personalization”. So low cost carriers might predict what kind of meals are needed in the flight based on past experience of  each customer. It enables them to widen the variety of meals served because there is less risk to have a lack of inventories of meals on the flight.  To serve meals to each customer,  robots of cabin attendant assistants might support cabin attendants so that meals are served smoothly. I am excited if I can choose many varieties of meals on demand.

 

2. Immigration

Before getting on the board,  it takes time to pass immigration.  I always think it might be more effective with technologies called “face recognition”.  Computers can identify who you are by comparing to your face image stored on the passport. It is good to take less time to pass immigration for everyone. If it is connected to a database of INTERPOL,  it can enhance identification of criminals.

 

3.  Maintenance

Airplanes have a massive amount of parts. Therefore, maintenance is critically important to keep flights safe. Especially for low cost carriers, there is less time to maintain airplanes from landing to taking off again.  It can be enhanced by technologies   called “internet of things” and “predictive analytics“.  In internet of things,  each part has sensors and provide data periodically thought the internet.  Data from the sensors are collected and analyzed by “predictive analytics” to predict which parts are likely to fail in  advance.  Maintenance can be  more effective by using the results of  predictive analytics. Data from sensors can be transmitted from airlines to airports, even though they are in the air. Therefore failed parts or potential one can be identified before air plains land.  It enables us to decrease the time of maintenance.

 

Beyond low cost carriers,  the airplane in the air might be connected to other industries such as hotels. For example, the flight might be delayed due to bad weather and customers need reservations of hotels as the flight will land at the midnight. In such case, We can reserve hotels thought digital dashboard of each sheet. It is good to have reservations of the hotel even if we are in the air!

I hope my flights will be more comfortable in the future!  Could you agree?

 

 

 

Note: Toshifumi Kuga’s opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy.  The information in this article is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region market or investment.

Data from third-party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and I, Author of the article has not independently verified, validated such data. I and TOSHI STATS.SDN.BHD. accept no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from the use of this information and relies upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user. 

What will be a shopping mall in the future? It might be a community

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I like to go to shopping malls when I have a spare time.  There are restaurants, supermarkets, retail clothing, electrical equipment shops,  book stores, movie theaters, and so on.  Then I am wondering what will be a shape of shopping malls in the future.

 

1. Why do we need “real” shopping malls?

When we are busy and have no time to go shopping,  we would like to use e-commerce, such as Amazon.com.  So why should we go to a shopping mall?  The reason is that we would like to enjoy walking in big malls, seeing products, touching them physically and meeting friends there.  Shopping malls are good places to meet people as they are air-conditioned, located at convenient places such as near stations, have big parking lots.  In order to keep attracting people to shopping malls,  it should motivate people to come there.  Strategies might be different from countries.  In developing countries such as ASEAN countries,  new facilities and malls might be good motivators for people to go there. On the other hand, in developed countries such as Japan, shopping malls are in tough competitions each other.  It is getting harder to survive in the competition.  Populations of some of developed countries including Japan and Korea are decreasing gradually. Therefore, it is difficult to keep the number of people to come to shopping malls in the long run.  Only new facilities are not enough to compete in  developing countries’ markets.

 

2. How can the frequency of visiting shopping malls be increased?

The more frequently people are coming to the mall, the more people purchase products there. The problem is how people can be motivated to come to shopping malls consistently in the long period. I think a kind of mechanism should be introduced.  In order to encourage people to come to shopping malls,  many events are needed.  For example, amateur band performance contests,  kids programming contests,  digital art museums,  touring experience corners.  Digital technologies should be used at every event.  Amateur band performances might be broadcasted lively through the internet to mobile applications of members of shopping malls.  Kids programming contests can be held among several shopping malls by connecting each of them by the internet.  3D digital arts can be projected at super-high resolution level.  Virtual Reality enables us experience to go anywhere in the world.  These are just examples. There might be many innovations in the future. By supporting digital technologies,  Events could be held in parallel with  other events in a big shopping mall.  Each floor can have different events to motivate people to come there.  Therefore, combinations of many events should be optimized so that more people can enjoy them. I would like to call it  “Event portfolio management”.  To maximize the number of people coming to shopping malls, the best combinations of events should be identified. Costs, spaces and time allocations should be optimized to do that.  This is done by “Event portfolio optimization” with digital technologies.

 

3.  New services will emerge to support older people and busy mothers

When you do not come to shopping malls by car,  it is difficult to buy a lot of heavy products and bring them to your house.  In such case,  drones might bring them to your house instead of you. It is a good service for me because I do not drive a car in KL.  I do not need to worry about heavy products and continue to walk and enjoy events in shopping malls. This might be good! When I am getting older, it is almost impossible to bring heavy products by myself so I definitely need this service!  In addition to that,  young mothers may have a hard time to go shopping with many kids. Therefore, small entertainment facilities for kids might be needed. Mothers can take their kids there and go shopping alone.  These facilities will take care kids when Mothers are shopping.  There are a lot of virtual “puppets” so kids cannot be boring.  Kids’ behavior can be monitored and transmitted to Mother’s mobile devices so that mothers can be noticed what their kids are doing.  Everyone can be happy there!

 

Shopping malls are not just hardware.  These are communities for people to gather,  enjoy,  be satisfied with.  Therefore new entertainments and innovations are always needed going forward.  Supported by digital technologies,  they might be changed to satisfy us more and more. It must be exciting, isn’t it?

 

 

Note: Toshifumi Kuga’s opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy.  The information in this article is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region market or investment.

Data from third-party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and I, Author of the article has not independently verified, validated such data. I and TOSHI STATS.SDN.BHD. accept no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from the use of this information and relies upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user.