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Shopping Receipt Potential Report by Study Group for Ideal Approaches to Management and Utilization of Purchase History Data

In 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a Study Group for Ideal Approaches to Management and Utilization of Purchase History Data, and since then, the study group has been holding meetings to discuss various issues concerning utilization of digital shopping receipts.
The study group reached a consensus about the potential of digital shopping receipts and the significance of standardization of receipts. In addition, it compiled the details of the agreement and other discussion results into a report. METI hereby releases the report.

1. Background

Consumer purchase histories are useful data for businesses in developing and providing new products and services based on accurate consumer understanding. Purchase history data are highly useful sources for businesses in ascertaining information on types of consumers, their shopping locations and purchased goods. However, many businesses only manage customer purchase history data for themselves. This situation causes difficulties in integrating data for the purpose of sharing the data among different retail companies to ascertain data on shopping behavior of specific individual consumers who visit a variety of stores.

To overcome this challenge, the study group focused on digital shopping receipts. Through this digital-shopping-receipts initiative, participating stores issue shopping receipts digitalized under a certain standard specification and participating consumers will accumulate this data on their smartphone applications, then it enables integrated management of such digital receipts issued by a various stores as individual-oriented consumer data.

2. Meetings and the Contest for Application Utilizing Data on Shopping Receipts

METI established a Study Group for Ideal Approaches to Management and Utilization of Purchase History Data consisting of retailers and experts, and since then, the study group held meetings to discuss the current situation of businesses in utilizing purchase history data and the potential of digital shopping receipts. In addition, as part of this effort, aiming to specify methods of utilizing such receipts, METI held a Contest for creating the Application for Utilizing Data from Shopping Receipts* and received proposals from the public for a variety of new ideas involving smartphone applications in which purchase history data are utilized.

*Note 1: Details of the contest (news release)

3. Outline of the study group’s consensus

As a result of these efforts above, the study group reached a consensus on the following issues and compiled the details of the discussion into a report.

  • Digitalized shopping receipts are so significant that Japan should popularize them across society.
  • While pursuing this popularization, individual-company-based development of unique specifications may cause problems for future data utilization. To avoid this situation, popularization of standard specifications is important.
  • While businesses are able to freely decide when to introduce digital shopping receipts, they are required to adopt a standard format and API** for such receipts at their own stores and e-commerce sites if they intend to introduce such receipts.

**Note 2: API, or Application Programming Interface, is one of the interface specifications used for transactions of data from digital shopping receipts.

4. Future prospects

Through these efforts by the study group, METI succeeded in confirming the potential of digital shopping receipts and the significance of standardization of these receipts. METI is now undertaking the creation of a standard format for such receipts under a separate project.*** It will release the format soon after its completion.

METI will continue to endeavor to develop a safe market for data distribution (e.g., purchase history data) that assures data providers of their security, and through this effort, it will also aim to develop an environment in which businesses are able to develop products and provide services based on more accurate understanding of customer behavior.

***Note 3:
For details of the FY2017 NEDO Project for the Development of Infrastructures for Creating New Industrial Models Taking Advantage of IoT Development of Standard Data Formats and APIs for Digital Receipts, organized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), see the following news release.

Reference: Members of the study group and companies that cooperated in the contest

  • Chair: Dr. Takahiro Hoshino, Professor, Keio University
  • Secretariat: Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
  • Participating companies:
    • ASKUL Corporation
    • AEON Co., Ltd.
    • Intage Inc.
    • Welcia Yakkyoku Co., Ltd.
    • KSP-SP Co., Ltd.
    • SUMMIT, Inc.
    • Takashimaya Company Limited
    • Trial Holdings, Inc.
    • Hakuhodo Inc.
    • Hands Lab Inc.
    • Lawson, Inc.


Release date

May 11, 2018

Division in Charge

Consumer Affairs, Distribution and Retail Industry Division, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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