Panasonic’s New Checkout Machines Scan And Bag Items All By Themselves

Can it still be considered self-checkout if the shopper doesn’t have to do a thing during the process? Yet another retail innovation aimed at expediting the checkout process scans and bags items so humans don’t have to.

Panasonic showed off new convenience-store checkout machines in Japan today that use special shopping baskets that detect the products inside and calculate the bill, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The customer sets the basket in a slot that pulls the bottom of the carrier aside, and the merchandise falls into the bag underneath. Customers can pay with cash or a card, as paper money is still widely used in Japan.

“We need a good solution also for customers who wouldn’t like a completely digitalized system,” said Yasuyuki Fukui, a Panasonic business-development executive.

Panasonic worked with convenience-store chain Lawson on the system, and will be trying it out at one of the retailer’s stores next to the tech company’s headquarters in Osaka.

It “could bring a revolution to the broader retailing industry,” said Sadanobu Takemasu, chief operating officer of Lawson. “We all face a scarcity of labor.”

That being said, executives at both companies insist they don’t want to get rid of human employees completely.

“Our store is also a point of communication for neighbors, where customers can enjoy chatting with clerks,” said Takemasu.

The company’s humanless checkout comes a week after Amazon announced it would be opening a convenience store called Amazon Go with no checkout lines in Seattle next year.