Lawson offers key exchange for vacation rentals
TOKYO — Japan's Lawson rolls out a service Monday with a Canadian company to provide key storage for short-term vacation rentals, part of a trend of convenience stores becoming hubs for the sharing economy.
Lawson stores will host lockboxes installed by Vancouver-based Keycafe, which operates the lockers at roughly 500 places in eight countries including Japan.
A guest or other user picking up a key receives a code via email to open the appropriate locker, while the key owner gets an email notification when the key is taken or returned. The owner can allow the box to be accessed only at certain times or change the code for each pickup, reducing the risk of keys being stolen. The service costs the key owner 1,980 yen ($18) monthly for unlimited use or 690 yen per pickup.
Lawson debuts the service at an outlet in the Ginza Six shopping complex in Tokyo's central Chuo Ward. The store operator plans to expand the offering to 100 locations in urban areas frequented by foreign tourists — mainly in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya — by the end of fiscal 2018. The company hopes people who are collecting or returning keys will shop while at the store.
Lawson intends partnerships with short-term rental companies such as Airbnb and also envisions the key storage being used for car-sharing, property showings and housekeeping.
While reservations, payments and the like can be handled entirely online, local options are needed for other services such as key exchanges. Convenience store chains are taking advantage of their locations and 24-hour service to fill this gap. Seven & i Holdings unit Seven-Eleven Japan has teamed with a bike-sharing business run by SoftBank Group to host 5,000 bicycles across 1,000 stores by the end of fiscal 2018.
source : (Nikkei)