Monday, March 19, 2012

No. 19: A new idea on how to make the best use of a railway station (March 19, 2012)

Business trend
JR (Japan Railways) East will launch a new project to support farmers along its railway lines coming April. It will open a direct sales store in a station on its lines in the metropolitan area alternately through the year to sell the signature agricultural products and traditional artifacts of each rural area. Besides helping the direct sales stores achieve good results, the company will give advice to local farmers on what products are selling fast in the metropolitan area for joint development of specialty products in each rural area, and will take care of transport and delivery of products sold.

To be more specific, JR East’s employees who majored in agriculture in college will be the consultants for local farmers. They will give information on fast-selling vegetables and fruits and how to market them more efficiently and effectively in the metropolitan area. The company previously operated this kind of direct sales store irregularly, but it decided to open it on a regular basis to make up for the loss caused by decreasing number of passengers. The company gets a certain rate of profit margin on sales.

Peter Drucker said, “Business is to create and keep a customer.” Likewise, the great Ichizo Kobayashi, founder of Hankyu Railway, said, “If you are in short supply of customers, why don’t you create new customers?” It is not too much to say that the great lesson Kobayashi left to Japanese enabled the Japanese railway business to make such a remarkable progress.

An antenna shop selling local specialties in a railway station in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Railway companies are collaborating with local governments to collect funds for faster recovery of the devastated areas.

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