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Japanese convenience stores need empathy and entrepreneurs to thrive

Localization and personalization will help konbini stay relevant

| Japan

In Sayaka Murata's award-winning novel "Convenience Store Woman," a customer makes a repeat appearance. This elderly lady on her walking stick contentedly claims, "This place never changes, does it?"

The protagonist, the 36-year-old store lifer Furukura-san, ponders philosophically that nothing there stays the same: the store manager, the store assistants and the merchandise all change constantly. Yet the lady is emotionally attached to the store, whose spirit is inseparable from Furukura-san herself.

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