Seven-Eleven to deploy self-checkout registers nationwide by 2025

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A self-checkout register that Seven-Eleven Japan Co. adopts at its convenience stores, mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area at first, and across the country later.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. will deploy self-checkout registers at its stores across the country by 2025, allowing customers to make purchases by scanning items with barcode readers and completing payments without the help of a cashier.

The move is aimed at reducing the workload of staff at its convenience stores and reinforcing the model of noncontact sales, the need for which has risen amid the prolonged COVID-19 crisis.

Seven-Eleven has since September 2020 been installing semi-self-checkout registers, at which a clerk scans the merchandise using a barcode reader and the customer settles the payment by inserting cash or using some form of electronic money.

As of the end of August 2021, about 90% of the chain’s estimated 21,000 convenience stores across the country have been equipped with such registers.

Going forward, Seven-Eleven will upgrade these semi-self-checkout registers to enable customers to scan their own items and complete the payment. After testing such transactions at some of its stores, it will deploy self-checkout registers across the country by 2025.

However, payments of utility charges and purchases of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, which require confirmation of the purchaser’s age, will still be handled by store clerks.

Handling customers at checkout registers is said to account for about 30% of convenience store clerk’s workload. Because labor shortages have become chronic at retail operations, including convenience stores, the workload on each worker has been increasing.

With the adoption of self-checkout registers, store operators are aiming to improve their employees’ work environment and reduce personnel expenses.

Ryuichi Isaka, president of Seven & i Holdings Co., the parent company for Seven-Eleven Japan, told The Yomiuri Shimbun, “For them [convenience stores] to be chosen as ones that will generate employment, it is necessary to make them more friendly to workers.”

Other leading operators of convenience store chains will make similar efforts. By making sales at convenience stores noncontact, they aim to have customers come to their stores with a sense of assurance.

Lawson, Inc. installed registers that can also be used for self-checkout across the country by the end of February 2019. As of the end of November, about 50% of its stores use such registers to let their customers make contactless shopping. It has also been conducting experiments at some stores to handle sales of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes with self-checkout registers by using special devices that can scan a customer’s driver’s license.

FamilyMart Co. has set up exclusive, self-checkout registers at about 6,400 stores, or about 40% of its total outlets across the country.