April 23, 2014 1:24 am JST

Yamato to expand store pickups for online purchases

TOKYO -- Yamato Transport will beef up a delivery service that allows consumers buying products from online retailers to receive their goods at convenience stores near their homes or workplaces.

     The Japanese parcel delivery company began offering customers the option of choosing where to pick up their packages in September 2012, and it has been increasing the number of pickup locations, which include its own sites. But only a few online retailers, such as cosmetics seller Orbis, participate in the service.

     Seven e-commerce companies, including industry giant Dinos Cecile, will come on board in June. The process of linking their computer systems with Yamato's takes about three months.

     Customers will be able to pick up their goods at some 20,000 convenience stores across Japan. In February, Yamato added 10,200 FamilyMart stores and about 6,250 Circle K Sunkus locations to its list of pickup sites. Including 4,000 Yamato locations, users will soon be able to choose from about 24,400 pickup locations, roughly triple the earlier tally.

     Demand for this service has been growing. For example, some women living alone feel uncomfortable having packages delivered to their homes. Users can simply drop by convenience stores on their way home from work, even late at night.

     Yamato handled 1.66 billion parcels in fiscal 2013, up 12% from the previous year. With this growth driven by the popularity of online shopping, the company has been modifying its collection and delivery network to cater to the e-commerce industry.

     Although Yamato lets customers designate delivery times, they are sometimes not at home, which means that packages must be redelivered. Convenience store pickup substantially boosts delivery efficiency, reducing the burden on drivers amid a personnel shortage.