We aim to maintain a relationship of prosperous coexistence with our franchised stores, growing and developing with them, while providing customers with day-to-day convenience and contributing to the development of local communities.
Following the action plan we established in April 2019 to support our franchised stores, we are taking steps to strengthen support for franchised stores, in part by increasing the efficiency of store operations, and actively trying new experiments to build an appropriate store management system suited to the times.
We started a trial of shorter store opening hours in some regions in June 2019 with the goal of building a store management system suited to the times. We also sent out a survey to all franchised stores in Japan on the topic of shorter opening hours. In October 2019, we expanded the shorter-hours experiment to about 620 stores across Japan in search of an appropriate balance between customer convenience and stable store management.
In light of the franchised store survey and result of trials so far, we decided to revise our franchise contract to enable store management flexible enough to meet franchised store needs and local circumstances. Specifically, franchised stores have the discretion to switch to shorter hours after consulting with headquarters and also have a choice between shorter hours every day or just once a week (on Sundays).
Since fiscal 2016, we have been analyzing, reorganizing, and drastically reducing store workload in order to increase the efficiency of store operations. In fiscal 2018, we reduced workload by about 5.5 hours per store per day as a result of simplifying our store operations manual and introducing new store equipment or improving existing equipment. For example, we introduced self-checkout registers as well as larger fryers for FAMICHIKI fried chicken and other fried items. In fiscal 2019, we aim to reduce workload by a further five hours per store per day through the continued introduction and improvement of equipment such as the introduction of new tablet devices for placing orders, promotion of cashless payment services, and introduction of new pullout shelves.
Incorporating IoT to Realize Next-Generation Convenience Stores
FamilyMart has joined forces with Panasonic Corporation in joint proving tests to realize next-generation convenience stores. The experimental technologies being demonstrated and tested at the newly opened FamilyMart Saedo Store in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture as a prototype convenience store in April 2019, include object detection based on image processing technology, payment through authentication by facial recognition, and point-of-purchase displays and digital shelf labels that automatically change their displays of product prices and other information.
We will continue to test these technologies in order to realize the new concept of a next-generation convenience store that not only addresses challenges for store management, but also helps solve problems for society and customers
Inside the FamilyMart Saedo Store
In line with our action plan to support franchised stores established in April 2019, we have revised our organization and system concerning store support. Within our Store Operation Division, we set up a new Franchised Store Solutions Group to respond to the opinions and needs from franchised stores. One of the most pressing challenges in the retail industry is the shortage of manpower. To address this, we put groups in place in the Store Staff Support Department to focus on hiring, labor management, and shift structure, respectively. Along with this, we prepared a system to support the recruitment, hiring, and retention of store staff.
We will continue to strengthen our support for franchised stores in cooperation with two regions, 21 districts, and 240 operating bases across Japan.
We continually work to enhance our systems and measures for supporting franchised store operations to ensure that they grow and develop with us. Measures enhanced starting in fiscal 2019 include raising incentive payments for 24-hour stores, promoting health management by making health checkup support services free of charge, and encouraging franchised stores to take more vacations by enhancing our support system for store managers. We will continue not only to provide economic support, but also to help create environments where people can work with confidence by facilitating health management for franchised store owners and staff and encouraging work-life balance.
Trusting relationships with our franchised stores are the foundation of our franchise business. Our top management values its opportunities to interact with franchised stores, including events like Kansha no Tsudoi, where we announce our strategies for each fiscal year, and visits to the stores. We also hold seminars to enhance store management and expand the functions and scale of the Franchisee Relations Office as part of efforts to build strong and trusting relationships with the stores.
To ensure that franchised stores operate with aims and values fully aligned with ours, we will continue increasing opportunities for dialogue, providing attractive products and services, and devising new store functions that incentivize customers to visit franchised stores and help grow their business. We will maintain our efforts to be a chain where the stores can operate with pride.