What are Japan’s key retail trademarks when it comes to Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More?

To counterbalance weak domestic consumer consumption, more than ever, Japan relies on inbound tourism to boost its economy. In this context, the Japanese government is taking an active role by implementing tourism-friendly measures, with major benefits to the retail and the overall TFS industries. For example, in June 2018, the Japan Government announced relaxed tax-free shopping rules to encourage spending by foreign visitors. Tourists can now combine their consumable and non-consumable purchases to reach the minimum Tax Free shoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More spend amount of 5,000 JPY (47USD).

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in sight, the government aims to simplify and modernise TFS in the country by going paperless. For example, merchants will have to send real-time their digitally issued transactions to the Government starting in 2020. On our side, Global Blue is working hard to be at the forefront of the upcoming changes.

Concerning Globe Shoppers’, what are the most important profile evolutions you have witnessed?

The TFS market in Japan has evolved to be much more segmented and refined. Focusing on a sole nationality, most often Chinese, is not enough anymore. New emerging TFS nationalities such as Vietnamese and changing tourism trends require retail stakeholders to be much more pro-active and agile in the way they come into contact with globe shoppers.

For example, Chinese used to post the highest spending when travelling in the region. But emerging nationalities are starting to show up in our data, posting significantly higher average spendRefers to average value of a transaction (usually applying t... More compared to more developed nationalities. As such, Cambodians posted a 1039€ average spendRefers to average value of a transaction (usually applying t... More, the highest out of all nationalities observed, followed by Malaysians at 693€ and Vietnamese at 606€. Emerging nationalities will be an, opportunity for luxury retailers to address going forward and proposing tax-free shopping to these emerging nationalities, an audience more recently accustomed to luxury, can be just the right incentive to encourage their spending.

In parallel, travellers have never been more interested in experience than today. Tourists’ budgets allocated to shopping are decreasing to benefit other activities such as dining and cultural visits. In this context, it is critical for Japanese retail stakeholders to propose value-added services when it comes to shopping.

What lies ahead for Global Blue Japan?

APAC customers are increasingly tech-savvy and digital. It is therefore crucial for Global Blue to answer their needs in a way that makes their TFS journeys even smoother, for example, by offering them multiple refund options, such as refunds to Alipay or WeChat Pay digital wallets.

In addition, in response to increasing tourism arrivals, helping our merchants to improve their operational efficiency will be critical. Global Blue’s suite of products and services, such as our mobile issuing solutions, kiosks and digital tax-free form archive services, can help to improve the efficiency of TFS operations in-store. In addition, our unique data services can help merchants to plan for peak inbound tourism seasons.

Further, targeting specific profiles and nationalities of Globe Shoppers has never been more relevant in a context of increased tourism flows in Japan. Thanks to our suite of Intelligence and Marketing Services, we are able to create merchandising campaigns targeting specific customer groups such as VIP globe shoppers.