Seibu Ikebukuro to Sell Products via Smartphone App

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The flagship Seibu Ikebukuro store is seen in Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

Beginning next fall, customers will be able to purchase products from the Seibu Ikebukuro department store in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, using a smartphone app, according to Sogo & Seibu Co., which operates the flagship store.

Starting from selected sales sections, the app system will eventually cover almost all products available at Seibu Ikebukuro, as well as at other Seibu department branch stores in the future. The move will enable Sogo & Seibu to focus on noncontact sales as an alternative to in-store customer service amid the coronavirus crisis.

When a customer consults about shopping using the app’s chat function, a salesperson will find and introduce products that suit the customer’s taste and need. Through video conference systems such as Zoom, customers can also receive detailed explanations from salespeople while viewing the products.

Because posting photos and descriptions of all the products in the store would involve a lot of labor and costs, as well as pose difficulties in inventory management, the company opted for the approach of introducing products in response to customers’ requests.

The company will also expand the app’s functions so that it will be linked to the department store’s membership card. By purchasing something through the app, cardholders will be able to accumulate points that can be used for payment on the purchase as well as further shopping.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. launched a similar service in November that allows users to consult the department store about products and purchase them.