To cope with fewer employees in its stores, Aeon Japan will introduce self-checkouts this year and it has also started using UV-based sanitisers for its shopping baskets.
Cost to implement self-checkouts is less than 10% of Amazon’s system
Aeon will increase self-checkout registers that can read prices of items that customers purchase, through their smartphone app. This new system will start this year at Aeon’s 1,000 supermarket units. The time required for self-checkout is estimated to be less than one-tenth of the regular waiting time in standard checkout lines. The introduction cost at Aeon is estimated to be less than JPY10m (US$100,000) per store. This amount of investment makes it faster to be rolled out, compared with the self-checkout registers of unmanned stores such as Amazon Go. The latter costs millions of dollars due to the multiple cameras and sensors that need to be installed to track movements of shoppers.
Shoppers will have to scan products by themselves
Unlike unmanned stores, shoppers need to scan the products they would like to purchase and Aeon’s supermarket units will implement different solutions:-
- At 520 stores of United Super Markets Holdings (UMSH), customers need to download an app on their own smartphone. Payment can then be made automatically using the credit card they registered in the app, and shoppers can leave the store by scanning a QR code over a dedicated device
- While at 350 AEON Retail stores, rental smartphones will be provided. The information being scanned will then be transferred to an unmanned cash register, and customers can pay with a card
Aeon creates UV-based shopping basket sanitiser
In addition to self-checkouts, Aeon has now started to use an automated shopping basket sanitiser that disinfects baskets with ultraviolet light. The retailer said that it can sterilise a batch of 60 shopping baskets in about 12 minutes. This initiative reduces the burden for its employees who used to wipe each basket one by one to disinfect them.
Staff shortage has become an opportunity to embrace innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced retailers to leverage technology and explore innovative ideas that can help customers complete their shopping mission faster and safer. By digitising the path to purchase through the introduction of self-checkout registers, and elevating hygiene standards with the UV-based shopping basket sanitiser, Aeon has now transformed the manpower shortage into an opportunity to land more innovative retail execution.