Lawson deploys robot cashier in efficiency drive

A revolution of sorts is under way at a convenience store in Osaka. Its leader is “Regirobo”, an intelligent checkout machine that automatically rings up customers’ purchases and bags them.

Lawson Inc. teamed up with Panasonic Corp. to create the photocopier-sized machine, which the convenience store operator hopes will reduce operating costs and improve productivity. The device went into action on Dec. 12, part of a test-run before a broader introduction.

To use Regi, shoppers must first scan items before placing them in a “smart basket” using a built-in barcode scanner. At the checkout, Regi “talks” with the basket and sums up the total cost. Once payment is made, the goods are dropped into a bag and returned ready to go.

Touting the fully automated self‐checkout as an industry first, Panasonic said on its website, “Since a store clerk does not need to scan products or pack bags at the cash register, labor savings can be realized.”

Regi joins a growing ‘workforce’ of mechatronic devices introduced to convenience stores in Japan in recent years, including the now-ubiquitous self-serve coffee machine.

The project is part of a broader collaboration launched in 2013 between Lawson and Panasonic on the themes of health, the environment and information and communications technology

In February, Panasonic will install electronic tags in Lawson store products. This will allow Regi to communicate directly with the merchandise, eliminating the need for scanning.

Lawson said it plans to introduce Regirobo to several of its stores starting in 2017, with a full-scale introduction set for 2018. A video of a shopper using Regirobo can be seen here.