Future Scenarios Envisioned by RICOH360 Vol. 3: RICOH360 Platform for Retail That Connects the Real and Virtual


This series features future scenarios envisioned by RICOH360.

It features how technology that records and analyzes the entire 360 degrees range can contribute to society and the lives of people, and what kind of world will be achieved as a result of this technology.
This scenario was created during a workshop by next generation leaders who will examine the value of RICOH360 and its ideal situation.
‍This article is illustrated with actual workshop materials.

Retail = Existence of a “Place” as a Community

There is little need to explain the evolution of retail with such as Japan’s first convenience store opened almost half a century ago, Rakuten Internet shopping started a quarter of a century ago, and globally, the marketplace started by Amazon with the goal of becoming the world’s top place to buy books.

There was once a time in Japan when there were no convenience stores, mail order, and Internet shopping in its long history of people “buying things.” At this time, local shopping districts and stalls opened during festivals and other events supported the consumption needs of ordinary people. These districts and stalls did not just let people to “buy things,” they brought a kind of community-like relationship, and were a “place” for seasonal events such as New Year’s Day, cherry blossom viewing, Gosekku (the five annual ceremonies) including Tanabata (the Star Festival), festivals to celebrate an abundant harvest, and to celebrate young people coming of age.

Asakusa, considered to be Japan’s oldest shopping district

As time passed, the community hub has moved online due to the popularization of technology such as the Internet and SNS. The connection between people has become weak, even among relatives. Along with this, many once bustling shopping districts have become run-down shopping streets all over Japan and several events such as simple local festivals have unfortunately disappeared. However, in recent years, it seems there are several regions and shopping districts that have shed their once obsolete status and recovered their former vitality. In fact, they are rapidly attracting customers and seeing favorable sales more than ever before.

Community Development That Makes Use of Things and Events Seen in Kawagoe

Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, is a castle town centered on Hatsukari Castle (currently the area where the city hall is located) in the northern part of the old town since before the Edo period, and it prospered as a commercial town. During the Showa period, stations were built for the Tobu, Seibu and former national railroads in the southern part of the city. This caused crowds to move to this area of the city and the old commercial area fell into disuse. However, activities began in 1980 to restore the old commercial area. Widely publicizing the attraction of “things” such as famous places, historical spots, and ancient temples including Kita-in Temple and Hikawa Shrine located in the old town area, and “events” in the form of experiences obtained from intangible cultural assets such as Kawagoe Festival, which prays for a good harvest, through the media and the use of the Internet and SNS as activities to attract customers for “community development” for its major activity has awakened the feeling in people of “wanting to visit the area to see what is there and have a fun time,” and has led to attracting customers far away, not just within the city. As a result, the entire area from the new commercial area to the old commercial area has succeeded as a “town (community)” that prospers.

Graph showing the numberof tourists in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

Source: Kawagoe City Hall website, chart created by referencing the chronological events of Kawagoe’s history (figures below 10,000 are rounded down)

Regional Revitalization and XR

In recent years, the national and local governments and shopping districts have been cooperating with IT providers and similar entities, and initiatives for regional revitalization and “town development” using XR (Extended Reality)* have increased.

According to the “FY2021 Collection of Knowledge for Shopping District Development Aimed at Regional Sustainable Development” (Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, METI), the following initiatives are being used with the aim of strengthening services for local residents and providing measures for the reduction in tourists in Kyoto’s Nishiki Market.

• EC site “Kyoto Kitchen” was established in June 2021 as a new product from an LLC.
• The “Nishiki VR Shopping District” service was also started using VR (Virtual Reality)* technology to promote sales by enabling people to simulate the experience of buying goods from shops.
• This service enables people to look around the shopping district in every direction and buy goods from the EC site of participating shops in VR.

“RICOH360 Platform for Retail” concept drawing

The progress in XR technology has contributed significantly to a situation of increased activity. However, these initiatives combine XR with real activities to aim at increasing the number of visitors to the area and the time these visitors spend there.

* VR means virtual reality. It is a system that provides a simulated experience to people such that the virtual space created by a computer seems real. VR is an artificial environment experienced through sensory stimulus (vision and sound) provided by a computer. The things that happen in the environment can be determined in part by human action. (Source: Wikipedia)
* XR means extended reality or cross reality. A general term for technology that combines both the real world and virtual world to enable people to perceive things that are not really there. (Source: Wikipedia)

Events That We Can Help With

Regional development is one of the major challenges in Japan where there is a low birthrate and aging and declining population. However, is it difficult to develop a region without traditional heritage or events such as those in Kawagoe City in the local area?
In recent years, there are also regions that have become the setting for Anime and are crowded with people on a pilgrimage to such places. Furthermore, if you just look, a region might have a rich natural environment and things or events that originate from this type of environment.
Is it impossible for these regions to send out information that attracts visitors without IT skills?
Using digital technology possessed by Ricoh for this type of challenge, we may be able to help in creating a “place (community)” where many people can come into contact. This is something we considered and then went on to investigate the use of a platform for retail that can connect the real and virtual. We gave it a name and called it “RICOH360 Platform for Retail.”
Focused users are initially local governments and groups that want to support consumers, large, medium and small retailers, and local shopping districts.
The Internet shopping environment is now used extensively due to its infiltration into our new way of life brought on by the spread of COVID-19 infections. Various services are expected to appear and grow in the Internet shopping environment in the near future, and VR is one field that is gaining much attention among these services. Using a system that can easily create VR images of things like products, stores, local specialty products, and famous historic spots on the “RICOH360 Platform for Retail,” a service that can rapidly actualize the VR world after quickly shooting images with the 360-degree camera RICOH THETA, will provide consumers with the feelings of the information sender and also local experiences, which will lead to increased sales and more customers visiting shopping districts as well as the revitalization of local shopping districts.

Various communication conducted on the “RICOH360 Platform for Retail” will contribute to the creation of a real community. The innovating trend involving VR, avatars, and the Metaverse is expected to bring about the creation of a new community.

“RICOH360 Platform for Retail” concept drawing

The origins of the word “Retail” (“Re” meaning once more and “Tail” meaning to cut) refers to the act of selling “things” or rather consumer goods in part or pieces once again to customers. This simple act (event) of selling and buying “things” during the long history of people’s activity as human beings has went through various changes during the ages at a fundamental level, but despite this we will help people to feel more excited and enjoyment for “events.”

Author: OKAOKA (pen name)

This article featured ideas discussed in a forward looking manner and asked the question “How can RICOH360 contribute to society?”
We will continue to develop RICOH360 as a brand that contributes to society and the future.


※The first 7-Eleven store in Japan opened in Koto-ku, Tokyo [May 15, 1974].

※In the U.S. in 1995, Yahoo!, Amazon, and others launched their services. In Japan, several companies started Internet shopping in 1996, and in the following year, 1997, "Rakuten Ichiba" started its service while many major companies entered the market

Microsoft Word - 07_Ichibangai Shotengai.doc (mlit.go.jp) Revitalizing a Shuttered Shopping Arcade in Just Three Years! How the "Community Revitalization Contractors" of Nichinan City, Miyazaki Prefecture are doing it | greenz.jp Green's

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, FY2021 Know-how on how to create a shopping district for sustainable regional development 2022


Nishiki VR Shopping Arcade" service using VR (Virtual Reality) technology