Delivery firms team up with convenience stores as labor shortage bites
A Seven-Eleven Japan Co. employee demonstrates a delivery service launched in a tie-up with trucking firm Seino Holdings Co. to deliver lunch boxes and other products. | KYODO

Faced with a severe labor shortage and grappling with heavy workloads amid a surge in online shopping, courier companies are teaming up with convenience stores to distribute parcels and relieve some of the burden on drivers.

In April, Yamato Transport Co., which runs the country’s largest door-to-door delivery service, began installing lockers at 30 Seven-Eleven convenience stores in Tokyo. Busy recipients can register online to have packages delivered to the lockers, then pick them up at their leisure.

The aim is to reduce the need for delivery workers to make repeated visits until they find the recipient at home.

Government data show that nearly 20 percent of packages were not delivered on the first attempt, a huge burden on delivery services that have seen workloads skyrocket as online retail sites such as Amazon.com gain popularity.

The number of packages Yamato handled in fiscal 2016 reached a record 1.87 billion, up 7.9 percent from the previous year. The figure has soared 59 percent over the past 10 years.

The issue came into sharp focus last year when Yamato took heat for failing to pay delivery workers for overtime hours. The company said it will hire 9,200 more workers this fiscal year and raise fees, and that it is considering doing away with same-day deliveries for clients including Amazon.

Facing a similar labor shortage, Japan Post Co. started a trial program in…