NTT Docomo to shed 30% of handset stores in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
NTT Docomo shop in Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — NTT Docomo Inc. plans to reduce the number of its mobile handset retail stores in Japan by some 30% in several years to focus more on online services, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The move by the Japanese wireless carrier comes as the number of visitors to its mobile phone shops has dropped some 30%due to solid demand for its “ahamo” low-cost smartphone plan whose subscriptions are accepted only online.

The company plans to shed about 700 of its 2,300 stores across the country while beefing up its online services, the sources said.

Domestic rivals KDDI Corp. SoftBank Corp. , which are also offering low-cost smartphone plans with online-only subscriptions, may follow suit.

NTT Docomo will provide clients with online services that are similar to those offered at actual stores. Employees at stores to be closed will offer support for online services, a shift that will allow them to work anywhere.

At actual stores, the company will deal with customers wanting to receive in-person services and offer smartphone classes.