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April 18, 2017

Panasonic looks to change the future of shopping

A new method of shopping self service, designed to eliminate long queue times by scanning items simultaneously, is to begin trials later this year.

By Joe Clark

A new method of checkout automation, capable of scanning all of a customers bagged shopping items at once, is being rolled out across Japan.

Reji Robo, is a new shopping method developed by Panasonic that makes shopping checkouts that much easier. The new technology works by using radio frequency ID tags to monitor exactly what is in a shopping basket, eliminating the need to scan items individually.

The new technology has been adopted by Seven-Eleven Japan and four other major convenience brands including FamilyMart, Ministop, Lawson, and Newdays. It’s hoped that this new system will debut in large cities next year and see full adoption in all Japanese outlets by 2025.

Once placed on a specially designed checkout the shopping baskets bottom will fall away, placing all items in a shopping bag, and tallying the cost of all items simultaneously. Customers will then be able to review their purchases and pay quickly and easily, greatly reducing queue times. The tags will also be capable of storing manufacturing and expiration dates.

The less than 1mm thin RFID tags cost roughly 10-20 yen a piece and will be scanned by machines that could cost between 1 million and 2 million yen. In order to encourage adoption for businesses selling items for less than 100 yen, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will attempt to encourage mass production and adoption through the creation of a council for the simultaneous self scanning technology this year.

Technologies like this have become very important to Japan in recent years, as the country’s distribution services have recently seen huge shortages of manpower nationwide. Currently the ratio of job offers to job seekers is at an extraordinarily high level of 2.8.

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The introduction of this system could encourage investment of 50 billion to 100 billion yen, and several Japanese convenience chains are considering fully automated outlets.

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