TOKYO - An increasing number of unattended kiosks and vending machines are popping up in office buildings across Japan, catering to busy white-collar workers who have no time to go out and grab a snack, JiJi Press reported.
The kiosks and vending machines are installed by convenience store operators such as Lawson and FamilyMart. The range of products offered for sale are changed frequently to keep people coming.
Lawson introduced the "Petit Lawson" operations this month (July), where self-service kiosks installed in office buildings are stocked with easy-to-eat items such as confectioneries and cup noodles, according to JiJi Press. Each standee is equipped with a register for electronic money payments.
The Japanese convenience store chain hopes to launch 1,000 such kiosks by February.
FamilyMart, another convenience store chain, has vending machines that can dispense products with different storage temperatures, such as bread , onigiri rice balls and salads.
"I don't want to go to convenience stores outside because they are crowded," said a woman who bought a salad from a vending machine during lunch break at an office building in Tokyo's Marunouchi business district, as quoted by JiJi Press.
Suntory Beverage and Food has even gone a step further - with vending machines that promote good health through specific drinks.
For example, customers can earn points by walking certain distances with a smartphone pedometer, and then use those points to exchange for drinks from the Suntory's vending machines. These drinks have been approved by the government as having specified health benefits, according to JiJi Press.
Suntory plans to set up 10,000 such vending machines at 2,000 companies by the end of next month (August).
Confectioner Ezaki Glico, with its Office Glico launched in 1998, is a leader in such services for Japanese office buildings, according to JiJi Press.
The Office Glico service places plastic drawer boxes filled with snacks such as biscuits and chocolates at offices. Peckish office workers can buy the snacks by inserting money into a slot on top of the box.
There are a total of 130,000 Office Glico boxes installed at offices across Japan.