Lots of people want to know the ins and outs of running a business in Japan. I am always happy to share my ideas.
One of the biggest hurdles I overcame was that of office supplies, in particular finding posting and packaging materials. It used to be such a nightmare since my local office supply shop doesn't sell postage bags. I used to have to trek into the 100 yen shop (the dollar shop) everytime I had to post something. It was totally hit and miss as often they didn't have the right size or in fact any stock at all. It was expensive, time-consuming and frustrating.
Then a friend out me onto Askul. I applied for an account online and completed a short interview by phone (in Japanese) then I was good to go. The catalogue is sent out free of charge twice a year. You can order online. Monthly billing and payment from the convenience store couldn't be easier. Delivery is extremely fast, within 24 to 48 hours.
I get all my posting bags, packaging materials, photocopying paper, printer ink etc from there. I can even buy the coffee I need for Chatty Cafe. It's really streamlined my work process and eliminated unnecessary trips to the shops. It's not always the cheapest but I weigh up time saved and it wins most times. It's worth checking the 'outlet' section, the online coupons and reading through the catalogue for seasonal offers.