Panasonic is joining the race to automate grocery store checkouts. Just one week after Amazon unveiled its cashier-free convenience store, the Japan-based electronics maker today showed off its own solution with a checkout machine that can detect items in your shopping cart, tally the bill, and automatically bag those items.
As detailed by The Wall Street Journal, Panasonic’s system would use a basket that scans items outfitted with electronic tags as they’re being put inside. When a customer checks out, they place their basket on a machine where the bottom of the basket slides out. The items inside are gently dropped into a plastic bag while the customer pays the bill.
Unlike Amazon Go’s system, Panasonic executives say their version of the automated grocery store could more strongly appeal to markets where cash is still king. “We need a good solution also for customers who wouldn’t like a completely digitalized system,” Yasuyuki Fukui, a Panasonic business-development executive, told WSJ.
The goal is to help save time and improve self-checkout machines rather than eliminate the need for human employees within the store, which they consider to be a place of community. The smart shopping basket would also require considerably less surveillance than Amazon Go’s system, which could monitor customers’ every move as they navigate the store.
Panasonic’s concept is currently being tested at a Lawson convenience store in Osaka, Japan where Panasonic is headquartered. The company is expecting to complete testing in February, with a wider rollout in 2018 if preliminary trials are successful.