Japan convenience stores moving towards full automation

Date : 19 April 2017

Five major convenience store operators in Japan will introduce self-checkout counters that can scan all items in a basket, instead of one by one. It is estimated that an investment of up to JPY100 bn (US$918.8m) will be needed for the implementation of the technology in 50,000 stores.

Technology driving shopper efficiency

Seven & I Holdings, East Japan Railway, Lawson, Ministop and FamilyMart Uny will introduce the new style checkouts in 2018 in large cities, with the aim to fully integrate the technology in their respective convenience store networks in Japan by 2025.

RFID technology to drive roll out

All operators will be using the same technology in order to capture the price of items via radio frequency identification tags. These RFID tags can hold useful product information for suppliers and distributors to understand demand and ultimately maximise profits. The move is strongly backed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and will lead to a swifter shopping experience. If successful, this could be rolled out to other channels such as drugstores and supermarkets. Perhaps this is an indication on what we could see in the future - full automation in stores with no staff.