We should not disadvantage consumers by using ambiguous and false advertising and should not endanger consumers by providing products that are defective in safety. It is also important to prevent the use of our products and services by consumers from causing adverse impact on society including environmental damage.
J. Front Retailing believes that both companies that offer products and consumers who use them need to perform consumption activities so as not to adversely affect society.
There remain many consumer-related issues, for some of which laws including the Product Liability Act are in place, and new issues occur with changes in society. Thus the social awareness of consumer issues is increasing. In these circumstances, we will focus on voluntary and active efforts including the securing of food safety, the protection of personal information and the creation of consumer contact points. Meanwhile, department stores will strive to create safe and secure stores and environment and actively promote the efforts to offer useful services to consumers.
Companies help consumers live rich lives by providing products and services. However, some corporate behaviors may greatly affect consumers. J. Front Retailing Group (the “Group”) makes its business companies use Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute, which specializes in quality control, to maintain and improve their quality control so that both companies as providers and consumers as demanders can conduct sales or consumption activities without anxiety and enhance the quality of their lives.
In order to ensure food safety, department store and other food-related business companies conduct appropriate management in accordance with management rules concerning food labeling and expiration dates, while periodically checking the status of food control in cooperation with Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute. The Group has in place a system that enables prompt action to be taken in cooperation with compliance promotion staff of each company in the Group when a serious food-related accident occurs.
Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute (the “Institute”) operates in Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya. Its operations include tests to identify product performance and the causes of complaints, the verification of product labels and expressions in sales promotion media under relevant laws and regulations, and consulting, trainings and seminars concerning product control in general. The Institute sends certified consultants to the Consultation Corners for Consumers in a total of ten Daimaru, Matsuzakaya and associated department stores.
For the companies in the Group, the Institute conducts various tests to ensure the safety of products in use including quality tests of various products for sale, load bearing tests of wrapping paper and shopping bags and color fastness tests, as well as pre-sale tests, product label checks at stores and hygiene inspections of food floors and restaurants.
“Kurashi no Saiensu vol. 54” features “rice malt,” which supports Japanese food culture.
Daimaru and Matsuzakaya common paper bag for food products, which was provided for practical use after tests by Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute
To give an example, concerning the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya common shopping bag for food products, it withstood a load of up to approximately 40kg at rest in the Institute’s strength test before adoption and it was found not to be damaged after being moved up and down with a weight of 7kg inside it 10,000 times at a speed of 50 times per minute. As a result of these tests, it was provided for practical use. Since such data are shared among workers at the department stores, they can provide appropriate paper bags to shoppers depending on the weight of the products sold to them. Thus it helps improve services.
The Institute issues an information magazine “Kurashi no Saiensu” twice a year to provide information to society and consumers. Under the theme of “quality demanded by customers,” it provides information which is helpful in buying products and using services and explains various cases surrounding consumers in an easy-to-understand way.
The Institute also meets its corporate social responsibility by providing companies outside the Group with opportunities to ensure active response to consumer issues through seminars (charged) concerning the matters retailers should know to comply with laws and regulations and avoid consumer complaints using its rich expertise concerning quality tests acquired as an institute in the Group. The subjects of the most recent seminars include (1) “Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores quality control of textile products – From the analysis of quality complaints caused by materials” and (2) “JIS care labeling symbols consistent with international standards.”
Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute Co., Ltd. provides Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores with services associated with product quality control in general including proposal for, creation and implementation of self-control rules concerning quality control and food sanitation within the company and provision of information, creation of solutions, etc. when quality issues arise inside and outside the company. We place the Consultation Corners for Consumers in the stores of Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores and send certified consultants for consumers’ affairs to appropriately respond to customer’s request for consultation and provide appropriate advice. In order to support the companies in the Group in developing better relations with their customers, we will aim at continuous improvement for better quality control and help provide better quality products thinking of “what quality customers demand” first from “user’s perspective” and with “solid judgment backed up with performance.“
In order to ensure the protection of customers’ personal information, with basic policies and the codes of conduct relating to the protection and management of personal information in place, we educate the employees of all the companies in the Group and check their management status systematically. JFR Card Co., Ltd. and JFR Information Center Co., Ltd., both of which handle all the customer information data of Daimaru and Matsuzakaya, have acquired the “Privacy Mark” certification to protect customers’ personal information.
At the “Consultation Corners for Consumers” of the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores, consultants certified as advisory specialists for consumers’ affairs accept comments from customers regarding product quality. Comments from customers are sent to Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute online for scientific quality inspection. Consultants inform customers of the results. These test results are also provided to relevant stores and manufacturers to prevent recurrence and improve quality.
At each store, customer consultation staff is stationed on a full-time basis to provide customers with consultation. With regard to inquiries about quality, they conduct inspections with the cooperation of Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute and ensure that the results are reported to the inquiring customers.
The Consultation Corner for Consumers is placed in the Customer Service Office of each store directly managed by Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. Ltd. Consultants certified as advisory specialists for consumers’ affairs are placed there to provide various consultation services.
Customers visit us “when some trouble has occurred on the products they purchased” or “when they want to tell us something they found or ask us about product quality.”
When talking with customers, we always try to understand their anxiety and listen to them carefully. Depending on their needs, we serve as a bridge between customers and sales departments, or in some cases, concerning the product quality about which customers talked to us, Consumer Product End-Use Research Institute conducts product tests, examines and reports the test results.
Receiving comments from customers is a very valuable opportunity that makes us find something we did not notice from the company perspective. We have many experiences that teach us how important it is to always serve customers sincerely.
Another important role of consultants is to make store staff aware of an “appropriate response to enhance customer satisfaction” and, for this purpose, to periodically provide sales staff with training sessions concerning the material properties of products, etc. We believe that increasing product knowledge of workers to provide flexible services to each of our valued customers will lead to customer satisfaction.
Technologies are advancing day by day and new products hit shelves. In the meantime, as consumer-related laws are established, enforced and revised one after another, we always strive to obtain the latest knowledge.
We will listen sincerely to what customers say and make daily efforts to make more customers smile.
At the department stores and other stores and offices, we organize self-defense fighting teams and conduct emergency drills and BCP trainings*1 in preparation for earthquakes and fires. We also promote the improvement of systems by introducing an earthquake early warning alert system, a safety confirmation system for all employees and satellite-based mobile phones.
Self-defense firefighting teams at the stores carry out drills on a regular basis with the participation of all workers including people from business partners to ensure that we can take prompt and appropriate actions including firefighting, evacuation guidance for customers and information collection. We have adopted a system in which an earthquake early warning alert, which is received when an earthquake measuring 5-lower or more on the Japanese intensity scale occurs, is automatically broadcast in the stores in real time*2.
The AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) are placed mainly in the department stores and we continuously train employees in their use.*1 BCP: A plan that allows an organization to continue to operate or restore business early in the event of a disaster.
From the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the “Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Covering the Measures for People Who Have Difficulty Returning Home” was enacted in April 2013. In line with that, the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores have organized a system in which they open part of their floor space to shoppers who have difficulty returning home as temporary evacuation space based on the ideas of “self help,” “mutual help” and “public help.”
Specifically, based on the estimated number of shoppers and employees who may have difficulty returning home when a great earthquake occurs, we store an equivalent quantity of hardtack and drinking water. We hold meetings with food suppliers and restaurant operators to ask them to sign a memorandum to the effect that they agree to provide their products (before the expiration dates) on our store shelves in case of stock shortage.
It is urgent in the light of social demand that department stores, which many customers visit, have more workers who know how to operate an AED. Therefore, we increase training opportunities so that more workers can operate an AED. We have placed AEDs in all the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores and provide normal lifesaving training sessions in these stores to enable initial response to emergencies.
Each of the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores has periodically provided “normal lifesaving training sessions” with cooperation from fire stations. We will establish a system that enables an appropriate response to emergencies by increasing the number of trainees through regular trainings, placing AEDs at appropriate sites that are easily recognizable and the sites where cardiac arrests are highly likely to occur, and clearly showing where they are located.
Each of the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores always reviews its facilities and services and make them barrier-free so that the disabled, the elderly and customers with children can shop at ease.
One of the characteristics of department stores is the provision of comprehensive services including customer services. In order to meet customers’ demands for services beyond their expectations, we conduct activities to know customers better.
The Management Planning Unit of the Head Office of Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores asks Daimaru Matsuzakaya email members to answer online questionnaires as monitors once a year and the results are used to analyze customer opinions and complaints concerning each store.
From these online monitor surveys we can find out each age group’s evaluation of the atmosphere, product selection and events at each store and the selection of products consumers expect department stores to offer, including seasonal items. The results of these surveys help us develop the ideal merchandise mix and retail space that consumers expect from department stores.
The Sales Planning Unit of the Head Office of Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores also conducts mystery shopper surveys concerning personal services such as customer services and functional services regularly once a year at 15 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores (nine flagship stores and six branches) and Hakata Daimaru Fukuoka Tenjin store and mystery shoppers survey and measure the service levels of sales space and facilities (information desks, cloakrooms, etc.) from the customers’ perspective.
The survey results of service levels of each item are quantified as indicators such as the degree of attainment and the degree of satisfaction. Such information is shared at relevant divisions to know the current levels and identify a target for improvement and used for future specific initiatives and further improvement.
Aiming to be the “number one service providers of services to foreign tourists to Japan,” Daimaru Matsuzakaya Sales Associates (DMSA) provides sales people with training concerning services to foreign tourists to Japan using the curriculums that are useful for customer services at stores six times a year at each store.
In addition, multi-language communication sheets (by sales department, by scene, etc.) and pocketable guides are used to support customer services so that foreign tourists to Japan can shop without stress. In April 2017, a total of 50 voice translation applications were newly installed at nine stores.
Daimaru Matsuzakaya Sales Associate (DMSA) is one of the largest companies in the Group with approximately 2,600 employees who are involved in sales and retail space operation at stores. DMSA will improve proposal capabilities and management capabilities concerning sales to contribute to strengthening sales capabilities and profitability of the stores of Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores while conducting business activities with a view to expanding the provision of sales services outside the Group.
DMSA will provide know-how on store operations in general as solutions by: (i) taking over the management of the operation of the entire store; (ii) taking over the sales and operation of a sales department; and (iii) providing human resource development programs. The company will develop expertise in each merchandise category expected of commercial facilities including department stores and commercial zones, human resources who can build and operate sales systems that respond flexibly to business fluctuation, and management know-how. In order to strengthen expertise, DMSA will create an in-house qualification “shoe coordinator” system to develop women’s shoes and men’s shoes “sales professionals” and provide one and only sales service at the sales departments whose operation is entrusted to the company. In order to respond flexibly to business fluctuation, DMSA will rebuild sales service know-how to propose and implement the most appropriate operation systems for the devices of the stores to respond quickly to consumer needs such as events and limited time sales. DMSA will also expand customer services and tax refund counter operations to satisfy yearly increasing inbound tourists. We will clarify the directions and steps of the development of the abilities of talented sales people and develop systems to meet sophisticated consumer needs for product offering and lifestyle proposals in the Group.
DMSA, which assumes the role of providing sales space and products to consumers in the most relevant manner at department stores with high-value-added services, will strive to appropriately provide useful products and services to meet customers’ expectations as well as providing information on safety and security.