Never mind a loaf of bread and a pint of milk, soon you will be able to buy computer software, holidays and even a car from your local convenience store.
Lawson convenience stores, the second largest chain in Japan, set up computer terminals in 7,016 of its stores, enabling customers to shop online and place orders. The shopping network, launched in conjunction with IBM is called Loppi.
The success of Loppi has been put down to its avoidance of two major problems - credit card security and delivery, which are the biggest hurdles to consumers shopping on the Internet.
Once customers choose a product on Loppi they obtain a paper receipt and pay for it in the store with a Lawson debit card. Products are delivered to the store for shoppers to collect.
According to sources, a number of UK grocery chains are interested in setting up a similar project, and one could be launched here as soon as next year. In Japan the scheme has generated a 20 per cent increase in sales within participating stores in twelve months.
IBM is confident the scheme could be a great success here, especially as there is a move to preserve the corner shop. Sainsbury's only recently announced its plans to open a chain of local shops.
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