TOKYO—A new Tokyo convenience store opens today, but no humans will be on hand to serve customers, reports Asahi.com. The Koto Ward test store is about 430 square feet and offers 600 items, according to retailing chain Daiei Inc. and NTT Data Corp., joint developers.
To shop, customers need to wave their smartphones showing a dedicated app at the store’s gate. Customers can settle their accounts faster than they do at self-checkouts in human-staffed convenience stores, the companies said. Artificial intelligence analyzes footage from 32 cameras on the store’s ceiling and data from sensors on shelves to identify products that customers purchase, and it charges the credit card link to their smartphones when they exit the store.
The unmanned shop is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and up to 10 people can shop simultaneously. Shelves are restocked once a day, in the morning.
The store was created to address ongoing staff shortages, but the absence of a checkout line also helps reduce the risks of transmitting COVID-19, according to Hiroshi Yamauchi, chief of the department of information and communication technology business, Daiei. “We want to use this pilot program to examine if we can operate the shop efficiently [without staff],” he said.
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