Healthcare at convenience stores

May 15

Convenience stores are determined to become the hub of Japanese life, both selling essential goods but also a vast range of services, as well as becoming the local depots for online orders. The latest idea is to turn your local conbini into a quasi medical clinic, offering basic medical tests and products, particularly those targeting the senior market.

People will soon be able to visit their local convenience stores to find nursing and healthcare services and to get blood tests. This is just the latest service targeting elderly customers – and with convenience stores found in places other retailers can’t reach, it is likely to catch on.

Lawson opened the first Kaigo Lawson (Care Lawson) in Kawaguchi in Saitama Prefecture last month. It offers a new range of products including adult nappies, denture fixative and foods that are easier to chew.

More importantly, healthcare provider Wis Net operates a local information and health advice counter in the store. In addition to promoting its own nursing and other care services, Wis Net is also offering free bone density exams and plans to introduce other in-store health services. Lawson will expand Wis Net services to 30 stores by 2018.

Similarly, Familymart is using its tie-ups with 16 separate drugstore chains across the country to offer a similar range of services in hybrid conbini-drugstores. Although it signed the first tie-up only in 2012 and currently has just 32 stores, Familymart plans to have 1,000 hybrid stores in operation by 2019. At its store in Sotokanda in Tokyo, blood tests can be ordered for just ¥500 a go, including blood sugar and cholesterol checks.

Meanwhile, Seven Eleven says that in 2013, 30% of its customers were over 50. It has rolled its home meal delivery service out to three quarters of stores nationwide, and already has 660,000 registered customers, with 60% aged 60 or above. It also has its own hybrid drugstore format, run through a joint venture with Ain Pharmaciez.