Signpost’s Cashierless Kiosk Challenges Amazon

Tokyo kiosk now testing technology for seamless store with no cashier on duty.

November 12, 2018

TOKYO, Japan – After 10 years of work, Signpost Corp. has created an image-recognition system that lets shoppers smoothly make purchases from a small kiosk with no assistance from a store clerk, according to The Japan Times.

The kiosk has dedicated entry and exit points, and shoppers use the same electronic payment card that they also use for rail fares to enter the store and pay for merchandise. They simply tap the card on the way in. At the exit, they stand in a highlighted area and can check their purchases on a screen before tapping out.

The system is currently being tested in a kiosk on one of Tokyo’s busy train platforms.

Founder Yasushi Kambara calls the system “Super Wonder Register” and says it can be installed in any store. Investors are impressed. Shares of Signpost, which went public last year, have jumped more than 50% since the store was unveiled in October. The seamless shopping experience is almost identical to that at Amazon Go, the web retailer’s cashierless pilot at its Seattle headquarters.

Signpost plans to begin selling the system to Japanese and overseas c-stores, supermarkets and train station kiosks next year. Kambara says it will cost a retailer about $880,000 to install the Super Wonder Register system in a 5,400-square-foot store. The company hopes to install 30,000 systems in Japan by February 2021, including the Wonder Register, a simpler checkout terminal that identifies products using cameras.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, believes seamless shopping is the future of retail. Amazon is reportedly planning to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go outlets over the next few years. Amazon declined to comment to the Japan Times on Signpost’s new retail location.

Other companies, from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent Holdings Ltd., also are testing their own smart-store technology. The overall smart-store market is projected to be processing more than $78 billion in annual transactions by 2022, according to Juniper Research.

“Amazon won’t share their Go technology with others,” Kambara said. “They’re going to try and kill off existing retail stores, so we want to give retail shops the weapons they need to fight back.”