, Japan

Check out these tech initiatives by Japan's retailers

Daiei saved 50% in opening costs for its upcoming unmanned store.

Japan’s retailers are gearing towards technological initiatives, with AEON affiliate Daiei planning to launch an unmanned supermarket in Tokyo, whilst Rakuten and Seiyu make use of delivery robots, IGD reported.

Daiei will open this unmanned store in Tokyo’s Koto area before it considers rolling it out to other districts in Japan. The shelves inside the store will still be stocked by staff, but there are no cashiers. The structure will be equipped with cameras and sensors that will identify what the shopper takes, so that he can be charged the correct amount.

The cost of opening Daiei’s unmanned store is estimated to be $274,000 (JPY30m) per 100 sqm, 50% cheaper than similarly sized unmanned stores.

Meanwhile, Rakuten and Seiyu are testing robots to deliver supermarket purchases from the Seiyu Mabori store in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, the first time in Japan that a robot will use public roads to deliver groceries. This is running from 23 March to 22 April.

Beforehand, they conducted a public road driving experiment in the Mabori coastal area in December 2020 to confirm that these robots can drive safely on public roads. A security personnel will also accompany the robot, and the vehicle will independently drive on public roads within the block at 4 km/h while being remotely monitored by a camera.

The delivery robot can be loaded with an equivalent of four supermarket shopping carts, and shoppers can order from a range of 400 items except for fresh and frozen foods and those that require special handling.

There are two ways to avail of this service. First, those in the Maborikaigan area of Yokosuka City can select products from the Rakuten Pay app in their mobile phones, and specify their address and desired delivery time when placing an order. Second is to bring the products purchased at the Seiyu Maborikaigan store to the service counter and request delivery.

During the limited period, delivery will be free during this limited period but additional charges may be considered in the future.

“After this experiment, the next goal is to autonomously drive multiple automatic delivery robots by remote monitoring without attendants,” Rakuten’s general manager for drone and UGV division Hideaki Mukai said.

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