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Taiwanese convenience stores are ultimate one-stop shop under the sun

2015/05/10 20:51:41

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) Beyond merely buying snacks, customers in Taiwanese convenience stores can grab a cup of joe, book train or concert tickets, collect online purchases, pay utility bills, send out laundry, manage bank accounts, return library books or even exchange for the local currency.

After more and more cyclists started to ride bicycles around the island, some convenience stores at key locations have set up special zones for cyclists. 7-Eleven and Family Mart, the top two convenience store chains, have started to provide NT dollar to Chinese yuan exchange services for Chinese visitors in three stores respectively.

That might partly explain why Taiwan has so many convenience stores, probably the highest concentration in the Asia-Pacific or in the world, even more than Japan.

In 2013, the five largest convenience store chains had 10,014 stores in the country, according to a news release by the ministry-level Fair Trade Commission in December 2014.

Some 7,397 stores are located in the six municipalities -- Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung -- which means they are clustered in urban areas, especially in northern Taiwan, since 4,649 stores (46.43 percent of the total stores) are located in Greater Taipei and Taoyuan (with 8.75 million residents, some 37.31 percent of Taiwan's 23.45 million people).

There were 2.878 billion visits to convenience stores in 2013, which translates into an average of 122.73 trips for every man, woman and child in the country that year.

With the Web of Things and Omnichannel retailing becoming prevalent in the economy, Taiwan's convenience store chains are trying to take advantage of their popularity with the use of mobile apps and mobile devices to tap into the new opportunities.

7-Eleven (more than 5,000 stores), Family Mart (some 2,900 stores), Hi-Life (some 1,250 stores) and OK Mart (some 890 stores) are the four largest convenience store chains in Taiwan.

While foreign tourists are often amazed by their around-the-clock, all-year-round services to customers of almost-all needs, convenience stores will keep playing no small role in Taiwan's economy.

(By Chen Cheng-wei and Kuo Chung-han)