Bic Camera and Electronics Shopping in Tokyo

August 23, 2007

It’s hard to describe electronics shopping in Tokyo. Points cards are a good place to start… Bic Camera has one of the best points cards schemes going. You get 10% of each purchase as points toward your next purchase. All stores have points systems, but many no one knows what they do or what they are for. Bic Camera is clear – you get cash off your next purchase.

We also understand that you can negotiate with the staff in Bic Camera and other electronics retailers. If you are buying a big ticket item, you can try to haggle on the price. I can’t imagine this at a department store in the west.

The next thing is the song. Each store has its own jingle. Bic Camera’s is pretty basic “bic o bic o bic o bic camera” (or something along those lines – you can listen to it here). Constantly as you walk through the store, you hear this song in the background of the beeping, blaring appliances around you. I described it to my brother as walking through a casino in vegas, but wait… there’s more.

At a few points on each floor there are guys yelling into megaphones announcing deals. At the top of most escalators, you will find these guys. I have no idea what they are saying but they sound like auctioneers and are incredibly enthusiastic in pitching their product.

The other interesting, and very different thing, is that some of the people on the floor are paid by manufacturers not by the store. If you ask a store clerk for info on a particular phone or camera, he is not unlikely to try to steer you to his manufacturer’s product – in fact he won’t be able to answer questions on other products.

Once we get a video camera, I’ll add sound. The picture just doesn’t do justice to the atmosphere.


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