Japan convenience stores to cut out workers, scan entire baskets

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   April 17, 2017 at 9:30 PM
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April 17 (UPI) -- Japanese consumers can expect even more convenience at convenience stores.

By 2025 the country's major retailers, including Seven-Eleven Japan and other chain operators, will allow customers to use self-checkout computer kiosks to scan an entire basket of items without requiring individual scans, The Nikkei reported Tuesday, local time.

The easier method of checkout eliminates the need to scan each item's bar code separately, once a basket is placed on the counter.

Chips, or radio frequency identification tags, that can compute all items simultaneously are to be used at Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart and Ministop stores, where they will be in active use in major cities by 2018, according to the report.

The computer kiosks that scan the ultra-thin RFID tags cost between $9,000 and $18,000.

Placing the system in 50,000 stores would require an investment of $460-920 million, a move that is receiving support from the Japanese government.

Tokyo's economic ministry and retailers are expected to soon roll out a declaration of "100 billion convenience store electronic tags."

The success of the rollout might mean the technology could be phased in at supermarkets and drugstores.

As technology moves in, however, people are expected to move out.

Young part-time employees typically man convenience stores in Japan, but those workers may no longer be needed, according to The Nikkei.

The Japanese newspaper reported the policy is not aimed at taking jobs away, but to address "severe labor shortages in the distribution business."

Not enough part-time job seekers are filling vacant positions at the stores, according to the report.

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