For whatever reason, the tech giants don't like cashiers nor the traditional check-out process at stores.
Amazon recently unveiled its cashier-less, checkout-less store in Seattle, and now according to The Wall Street Journal, Panasonic, which is known for making televisions and other consumer products, has made a "convenience-store checkout machine" that can scan and bag items on its own. This Panasonic system is basically a smart shopping basket designed to identify the merchandise in the basket and serve up an accurate bill total.
All the customer has to do is place their basket in the appropriate slot, then the bottom of the basket will slide to the side, and the merchandise will fall into a plastic bag underneath. Customers can pay with cash or a card and carry their stuff away. Panasonic said it developed the system because the retailing industry faces a "scarcity of labor", even though according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 3.4 million cashier jobs in the US alone. However, employment of cashiers might only grow by 2 per cent from 2014 to 2024.
Still, there's no denying that both Amazon's store and Panasonic's system immediately threaten the safety of cashier jobs. Panasonic is testing its system in a Lawson store near its Osaka headquarters. The Lawson store has become a showcase for Panasonic products ranging from solar panels to energy-efficient lights. Lawson has said it doesn't want to eliminate employees from stores.
Right now, customers still need to manually scan each item before putting it in their basket, but the Panasonic system should be fully operational by February, when electronic tags can be attached to each item. Similarly, Amazon's store can determine automatically what items customers take from the shelves and charge their account when they leave. The company said the store relies on technology found in self-driving cars.
Panasonic and Lawson plan to put more of the new checkout machines in Lawson stores later next year and in 2018.