New App Providing Easy Calculation of Global Shipping Costs Hopes to Boost Sales of Hida Furniture to Foreign Travelers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prof. Kyoko Yamori of Asahi University, left, and Fuminori Hori, executive officer of Nohhi Logistics Co. hold a tablet displaying an app jointly developed by the two parties, at Asahi University in Mizuho, Gifu Prefecture.

GIFU — To boost sales of acclaimed Hida-brand wood furniture from Gifu Prefecture that is popular with foreign tourists, a local university and a logistics company have jointly developed an app that provides global shipping costs when users input basic information.

Foreign customers have balked at purchasing Hida furniture in the past due to shops being unable to inform them of shipping costs. It is hoped that such squandered sales opportunities will be prevented with the new app, developed by Asahi University in Mizuho, Gifu Prefecture, and Nohhi Logistics Co. in Gifu City.

The “Nohhi Yushutsu Soryo Shisan System” (Nohhi export cost estimation system) app provides a rough estimate of shipping costs, including for domestic overland shipping, international air shipping and transport within the destination country. The cost is calculated upon entering the product’s length, width, height and weight and the destination.

Estimates are made using publicly available data from major international freight companies, among others. The app provides two approximate shipping rates: one through Nohhi Logistics and another through general logistics services. The rates cover the cost of shipping from the store to the address provided by the shopper. They do not include customs duties. The app does not show costs for ocean freight as these rates can fluctuate significantly.

The university and the logistics firm have been conducting joint research on the potential for cross-border e-commerce in Gifu since 2016 as an industry-academia collaboration. The app’s development was a part of this effort, focusing on foreign tourists and aiming to support and promote local industry.

While the app can calculate transport costs of a range of items including knives, the two parties decided to focus its use on Hida furniture — popular with travelers from abroad but too cumbersome to buy as a souvenir to take home. The app has been provided free of charge to stores handling the products.

“As Hida-brand furniture is very popular among foreign tourists, a system that visualizes shipping costs on the spot with a smartphone has been eagerly awaited,” said Prof. Kyoko Yamori, an expert in information management at Asahi University’s Department of Business Administration. “We hope [this app] will help solve the problem of missed sales opportunities.”

Fuminori Hori, executive officer of Nohhi Logistics, said, “We hope our years of experience and initiatives in logistics are effectively applied to university research and contribute to the local economy.”