Themed on its vision of a convenience store in 2025, Lawson demonstrated the automated system at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba on Oct. 16, the event’s first day.
Many retailers including Lawson are struggling with serious labor shortages, and the unmanned payment system is aimed at solving the problem.
To use the service, customers must first enter credit card information into a smartphone app, which displays the user's Quick Response code.
Once shoppers have bagged everything they need, they simply place their smartphone over an app reader and pass the bag through a merchandise sensor as they exit the store.
Multiple items labeled with wireless RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags in one bag can be simultaneously recognized by the sensor.
The machine then automatically charges the bill to the buyer’s credit card, and after payment is taken, the receipt is displayed on their smartphone screen.
At the chain’s booth, familiar items including rice balls and snacks were lined up and labeled with RFID tags.
Visitors testing out the system were provided with a smartphone with the app installed so they could virtually purchase goods.
One reporter “bought” two snack packs of “Konnyaku Chips” and “Kinako Kurumi” (walnuts with soybean flour), and the system billed him for 346 yen (US$ 3). The description of “unmanned payment” was displayed on the receipt screen.
It will take another three to five years until the system is in practical use, partly due to the expensive special tags, according to a Lawson official.
It is rare for a retail company to exhibit at the Ceatec Japan trade fair.
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