I was extremely fortunate while in Japan last week, to have my hosts, President Takaki Nagamori and his great team at LEC, provide me with a tour of some of that country's major retailers. After those store visits, all I can say is that if you want to know how to be a great 21st century retailer of play, make a pilgrimage to Japan and visit Yodobashi Akiba. It was for me, a game changing experience.
This unique retailer, whose name in English means Yodobashi Camera, currently has 21 stores. The Tokyo store, which I visited along with the Osaka outlet, was 8 stories high and covered, by my estimation, approximately 1 million square feet. I would also estimate that there are a half a million unique sku's.
What was truly unique, however, was not the size but the incredible array of play merchandise sold. Yodobashi Akiba is a play retailer in the fullest sense of the word and one from which traditional toy retailers can learn a great deal. Below is a picture of a sign that tells you what is available on each floor:
Here is what it says:
1st Floor Macs, iPads, iPods, iPhones, Smart Phones, Tablets, etc.
2nd Floor Printers, computer Accessories, Office Equipment, etc.
3rd Floor Cameras, Camcorders, Pens, Watches, etc.
4th Floor TV’s, Home Theatres, Music Systems, etc.
5th Floor Refrigerators, Ovens, Washing Machines, etc.
6th Floor Video Games (machines and software), Toys, Educational Toys, Railway Models, Plastic Models, Figures, RC Toys, Electronic Pianos, Power Assisted Bicycles, Kick Scooters, etc.
7th Floor Records and Recorded Music
8th Floor Food Court
It was the 1st, 4th and 6th floors that really captured the essence of what it is to be in the business of play. I will write more about that in my next posting.