We identify the ever-changing market conditions and share information in real-time in order to immediately incorporate it into store operations. Information exchange has overwhelmingly speeded up with LINE WORKS, and it also contributed to greater communication and motivation.

Tokyu Department StoreInterview with Mr. Utsugi, Ms. Kashima, and Ms. Omiya

  • Tokyu Department Store
  • Accounting/System General Info. Systems Dept.
    Planning Manager
    Utsugi Ryota (left)
  • Food Mgmt. Dept. 1 Confectionery/Luxuries MD
    Strategy/Development Buyer
    Kashima Yoshiko (center)
  • Food Mgmt. Dept. MD Strategy/Development BuyerOmiya Taye (right)

As the heart of the Tokyu Group retail business, the Tokyu Department Store operates sixteen stores in Japan, which include small specialty shops and company-related stores, and two overseas store locations. Employees of the Food Management Department, who frequently go on local and overseas business trips, use LINE WORKS as a means of speedy information sharing. We spoke together with Information Systems Department Planning Manager, Mr. Utsugi, Development Buyer, Ms. Omiya, and Confectionery and Development Buyer, Ms. Kashima, about incorporating the use of LINE WORKS.

Tell us about your business operations and the role you play.

- Mr. Utsugi:
I am in charge of the company information system and IT infrastructure and oversee the planning and development of business systems, as well as management and operations.

- Ms. Omiya:
As a buyer in charge of new projects and goods, I am in charge of inviting businesses and brands, as well as distribution strategies in new stores.

- Ms. Kashima:
I am the buyer in charge of confectionery and development and design policy for store operation improvement, floor remodeling, and the two largest events of the confectionery market: Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I spend a lot of time outside the office to meet with business partners and inspect other store locations as well as competing stores.

What were some problems you experienced prior to adopting LINE WORKS into your business?

- Mr. Utsugi:
Some stores used the SNS bulletin function, but mainly, stores used emails and phone calls for communication. However, it took a significant amount of time replying to emails because some employees would be out of the office and would have to return to the office in order to reply. Furthermore, when we wanted to share photos, we needed to move the photos from the digital camera to the computer, which was very time consuming.

The company did not supply mobile phones so there were employees using personal phones or personal LINE accounts for business-related communication. There was the concern of private information leakage and other security issues that could arise through such Shadow IT*, and not to mention the matter of determining the boundary between personal and business contacts.

*Shadow IT: Use of devices or services by an employee, in addition to the company’s IT system

- Ms. Omiya:
We mainly used emails to contact one another. Sometimes we waited until there was a meeting where all employees would attend to share information with one another. However, there was always the inconvenience including delay or omission of information.

What was the decisive reason that drove you to turn to LINE WORKS?

- Mr. Utsugi:
We thought that communication through phone calls and emails were not the best option, so we collected information about messenger or a chatting tool. However, because there were employees who were unfamiliar with the use of IT, we were worried about the feasibility of incorporating a new tool. We couldn’t even come up with a specific case in which a tool was used properly for on-site sales.

Then we began to receive inquiries from the Food Management Department like, “Is there a way we can share on-site images taken by buyers in real-time?”. Like this, employees from Food Management Department, especially who are spending many hours outside the office, raised an issue with inefficient communication through emails and phone calls.

This was the start of the examination on various UC products*, messengers, and business chats for an actual induction of a new tool. However, there were issues with accommodating user interface for overseas services. This led us to the conclusion that a sort of grace period would be necessary for us to be accustomed to its usage.

The LINE WORKS interface, however, was similar to that of LINE, and it was anticipated that it would solve the problem of difficulties with IT use for those unfamiliar with it. If one of the employees of the team can't use team communication tool, there is no meaning of using the tool. All employees must be part of it.

*UC product: Unified communications product

Following an actual survey about the results of trial use, approximately 90% of employees answered that LINE WORKS was easy to use because its interface was similar to that of LINE. And with it being so easy to use, training would not be necessary. There was also the decisive preference for LINE WORKS stemming from that there was a good auditing function as well as easy use of the admin console. We were able to smoothly introduce the tool with active utilization by younger employees.

How exactly is LINE WORKS used?

- Mr. Utsugi:
There are currently twenty-five employees of the Food Management Department, nine employees of the Information Systems Department and a total of fifty-seven employees are using LINE WORKS. Buyers also use LINE WORKS to share information in real-time. Specifically, they share new goods they found at the exhibits, conditions of retail stores while on business trips overseas, and display techniques of other company stores as future reference as well. The buyers also use the tool to share inspection results from business partner workshops.

The Information Systems Department use LINE WORKS for video conferences with stores in Sapporo, overseas, or other locations in distance. LINE WORKS is convenient because it allows us to have meetings without requiring any travel expenses.

- Ms. Omiya:
I visit every new store that opens, but I also receive immediate customer visit reports from employees through LINE WORKS. Because it is important to acknowledge the number of customers visiting the store on the opening day, the employees share photos through LINE WORKS to report condition of the store. Like this, prompt information exchange plays a crucial role in terms of establishing company strategies.

We can share information about the new stores which are collected during local and overseas business trips. In addition to this, we can also share daily report of out-of-office duties. Sharing images while holding consultations with business partners has also become more convenient. Actually, there was a buyer who visited a store and found out that one specific product was out of stock. With LINE WORKS, thankfully, he could quickly inform another buyer in the office and solve the issue immediately.

- Ms. Kashima:
LINE WORKS is convenient because we can also share information in real time when inspecting stores in local communities. Being able to share photos of progress with cases of remodeling enabled us to send and receive more accurate and detailed information. Furthermore, since I am in charge of confectionery, I made a group with those who are in charge of side dishes and we could share opinions with one another. In the sake of spreading motivation throughout the team members, we either share success stories or improvements that need to be made. At times, store managers even share their own opinions about the store.

What kind of changes took place following the use of LINE WORKS?

- Mr. Utsugi:
A buyer must grasp the ever-changing market trends and immediately reflect them in stores, and real-time communication through LINE WORKS has been a great help. Real-time sharing of information, as well, has increased business efficiency, and buyers can now focus better on their duties. Communication has also become much more dynamic as members are contacting one another using softer wordings than emails.

- Ms. Kashima:
Compared to the previous times when we shared information with one another at meetings, the speed has grown significantly faster after using LINE WORKS. Real-time information sharing has led us to experience positive changes on-site. Moreover, LINE WORKS stickers also help make communication livelier while creating a brighter atmosphere. LINE WORKS is not only used as a means of contact, but also as a means to establish better communication and motivate one another. The fact that anyone can share opinions and ideas is also a positive change. We can share tips on how to increase consumer purchases, how to decorate the front desk, and other store operation know-how, to help contribute in the increase of customer satisfaction.

※ All details, affiliations, and positions specified were gathered at the time of interview.