One of the most interesting things about going to the local 7-Eleven convenience store in Japan is how they collect simple demographic data with the touch of a button. Next time you drop by a Japanese 7-Eleven, take a look at the cash register as the cashier pushes the buttons. Not only will you see how the company collects data, you'll watch the cashier guess your age!
On the register you will see two columns of about six buttons each, one side pink and the other side blue. The numbers show 12, 19, 29, 49 and 59. And below that is the button that finalizes your purchases and opens the register for change. Can you guess the meaning of the numbers and colors?
In order to open the register, the cashiers must input this data which also keeps a record of the date, time, and items purchased. This simple interactions feeds into the big data collection center of the company which can be used to predict which items need to be delivered throughout the day to match peak demand and reduce waste.
Today at one of the three local 7-Eleven's in the Nagoya Marunouchi area by the NUCB Business School campus, I found an even simpler way for the staff at this location to understand the customer demand. In English, the Japanese title reads "Customer Rankings of Desired Vegetables". This method of collection is basic - just take a sticker from the lower right side makeshift paper pocket and put the sticker on the vegetable you want them to carry. Do you think the colors of these stickers hold any meaning?
The next time you visit 7-Eleven, why not see if the cashier guesses your age correctly!